How to Manipulate the DOM in JavaScript – Most Commonly Used Techniques


Dynamic web pages owe their interactivity to the Document Object Model (DOM), a programming interface that represents the structure of a document as a tree of objects. JavaScript is the language of the web, and understanding how to manipulate the DOM is crucial for creating dynamic and responsive web applications. In this guide, we’ll explore the most commonly used techniques for manipulating the DOM using JavaScript.

Understanding the DOM:

What is the DOM?

  • The DOM represents the HTML or XML document as a tree structure where each node corresponds to a part of the document. JavaScript provides methods and properties to interact with these nodes.

DOM Manipulation Techniques:

  1. Selecting Elements:
    • Use methods like getElementById, getElementsByClassName, and getElementsByTagName to select DOM elements.
const elementById = document.getElementById('myElement');
const elementsByClass = document.getElementsByClassName('myClass');
const elementsByTag = document.getElementsByTagName('div');

Query Selector:

Utilize the querySelector and querySelectorAll methods to select elements using CSS-style selectors.

const element = document.querySelector('#myElement');
const elements = document.querySelectorAll('.myClass');

Manipulating Content:

  • Change the content of elements using properties like innerText, innerHTML, or textContent.
element.innerText = 'New Text';
element.innerHTML = '<b>Bold Text</b>';

Changing Attributes:

  • Modify attributes of elements using the setAttribute and getAttribute methods.

element.setAttribute(‘src’, ‘newImage.jpg’);
const srcValue = element.getAttribute(‘src’);

Creating and Appending Elements:

  • Dynamically create elements using createElement and append them to the DOM with appendChild or insertAdjacentElement.
const newElement = document.createElement('p');
newElement.textContent = 'Dynamic Content';

Event Handling:

  • Attach event listeners to elements using addEventListener to respond to user interactions.
element.addEventListener('click', function() {
  alert('Element Clicked!');

Styling Elements:

  • Change the style of elements using the style property or by adding/removing classes. = 'red';

Best Practices and Considerations:

  1. Performance:
    • Be mindful of performance when manipulating the DOM, especially with large-scale applications. Minimize unnecessary reflows and repaints.
  2. Cross-Browser Compatibility:
    • Check and ensure your code works across different browsers. Consider using libraries like jQuery for simplifying cross-browser compatibility.
  3. Code Readability:
    • Write clear and readable code. Consider breaking down complex manipulations into smaller functions for better maintainability.


Mastering DOM manipulation in JavaScript is a fundamental skill for web developers. The ability to dynamically change content, respond to user actions, and create a responsive user interface is at the core of creating engaging web applications. By incorporating these commonly used techniques into your JavaScript toolkit, you empower yourself to build dynamic and interactive web pages that elevate the user experience.

As you delve deeper into web development, continue exploring advanced DOM manipulation techniques, understand the intricacies of asynchronous operations, and stay updated on modern JavaScript frameworks that simplify complex interactions. The journey into the world of DOM manipulation is both exciting and essential for anyone aspiring to be a proficient web developer.

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