Manipulating the DOM with jQuery: 10+ useful code snippets

by Jean. 32 Comments -

The Document Object Model is an API which allows developers to access, read, and modify the content of a web page. In this article, I’m going to show you 10+ extremely useful code snippets to manipulate the DOM using jQuery.

Add a CSS class to a specific element

A very clean way to change an element look and feel is to add a css class, instead of adding inline styles. Using jQuery, this is pretty easy to do:


Removing a CSS class from a specific element

It’s great to be able to add some CSS classes, but we also need to know how to remove unwanted classes. The following line of code will do that:


Check if a specific element has a CSS class

If your application or site is frequently adding and removing classes to a particular element, it can be very useful to be able to check out if an element has a certain CSS class.


Switch CSS using jQuery

As we saw with the previous examples, adding or removing css styles to an element is very simple using jQuery. But what if you want to completely remove the document css file and attach a new stylesheet? Good news, it is extremely simple as well, as shown in the following example:

$('link[media='screen']').attr('href', 'Alternative.css');


Append HTML to an element

When you need to append some html to an element, the append() method is a life saver:


Check if an element exists

When working with Javascript, we often need to check if an element exists or not. Using jQuery and the length property, it is very simple to do: If length == 0, no elements are used on the page. Otherwise, some are used.

if ($('img').length) {
    log('We found img elements on the page using "img"');
} else {
    log('No img elements found');


Get the parent element of an element

When working with the DOM, you may need to know which element is the direct parent of another element. The closest() method will let you know:

var id = $("button").closest("div").attr("id");


Get element siblings

The siblings() method is a very handy tool to get siblings of an element. As shown below, using this method is extremely simple:


Remove an option from a select list

When working with select lists, you may want to update the content according to the user actions. To remove an option from a select list, the following code will do the trick:

$("#selectList option[value='2']").remove();


Get the selected option as text

Extremely useful when you need to quickly check out what a visitor selected from your select list.

$('#selectList :selected').text();

Apply a “zebra” effect on tables

When using tables, it is a good idea, for better readability, to give a different style to one line out of two. Using jQuery, this can be done easily, without any additional html markup.



Count children of an element

If you’d like to count how many div elements are children of #foo, the following line will let you know. Simple and efficient!

$("#foo > div").length


Comments (32) - Leave yours

  1. uberVU - social comments said:

    Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by jmgall: Manipulating the DOM with jQuery: 10+ useful code snippets #webdevelopment…

  2. Ricardo Verhaeg said:

    Thanks.. I really find useful about the closest() I was using the parents() before but it was not what i expected!
    Very nice tips also!

  3. Thomas said:

    “When working with the DOM, you may need to know which element is the direct parent of another element. The closest() method will let you know:”

    You can get the direct parent with $(‘#element’).parent();
    closest() returns the next ancestor matching the given selector, which is not necessarily the direct parent.

  4. Marco said:

    That’s a supercool post Jean. Bookmarked cause it’d save a lot of headaches, especially “Add a CSS class to a specific element” and “Apply a “zebra” effect on tables”. Kudos.

    • Ricardo Verhaeg said:


      “The .parents() and .closest() methods are similar in that they both traverse up the DOM tree. The differences between the two, though subtle, are significant:
      Begins with the current element
      Travels up the DOM tree until it finds a match for the supplied selector
      The returned jQuery object contains zero or one element

      Begins with the parent element
      Travels up the DOM tree to the document’s root element, adding each ancestor element to a temporary collection; it then filters that collection based on a selector if one is supplied
      The returned jQuery object contains zero, one, or multiple elements”

      So the basic difference is that with parent you may find multiple parents and with closest you get only the first found parent.

      • Danillo Nunes said:

        You are describing parents, not parent.

        To understand (I hope I can write some code here…):

        <div id="level-one" class="foo bar">
        <div id="level-two" class="foo">
        <div id="target">

        $("#target").parents(".foo") // Returns #level-one and #level-two
        $("#target").closest(".foo") // Returns #level-two
        $("#target").closest(".bar") // Returns #level-one
        $("#target").parent(".foo") // Returns #level-two
        $("#target").parent(".bar") // Returns nothing

  5. Dexx said:

    Gah!! “When you need to append some html to an element, the append() method is a life saver:” — I’ve been looking for this for a week!

    Thank you so much for sharing this, great site!


  6. bob said:

    or you could just read up on the docs…
    not a bad post but you’re missing a semicolon on a couple of examples, and to get a direct parent of a div you can just use $(‘div’).parent(); rather than .parents(); – optionally with a selector.

  7. smit said:

    Hello Guys,
    How to check similar class in dom.

    jQuery(“.c_”+[somethig to match])
    Can anyone tell me how to do this?

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