How to Dynamically Add and Remove HTML Classes with jQuery

Adding a new HTML class manually is straightforward; however, creating an interactive website requires the ability to modify, insert, and remove HTML classes dynamically. jQuery makes this easy. Below is an example demonstrating how to add and remove a class named my-new-class from a <div>.

// Add class

// Remove class

Beyond jQuery, you can also manage HTML classes using vanilla JavaScript:

// Add class
document.getElementById('elem').className = 'my-new-class';

// Remove class
document.getElementById('elem').className = document.getElementsByTagName('div')[0].className.replace(/(?:^|\s)my-new-class(?!\S)/g, '');

Although direct JavaScript manipulation is less succinct than jQuery, it’s a viable option for those preferring not to use a framework. Additionally, the modern classList API offers an even more convenient method for class manipulation.

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Manipulating Classes with the classList API

The classList API, much like jQuery, provides methods for easy modification of HTML classes.

For a div containing multiple classes, classList allows retrieval of all classes:

var classes = document.getElementById('elem').classList;

Accessing the browser Console will display the list of classes.

Console showing classList output

To modify classes, utilize .add() and .remove() methods:

var elem = document.getElementById('elem');

// Add class

// Remove class

Adding multiple classes is straightforward, simply separate each class with a comma:

elem.classList.add('my-new-class', 'my-other-class');

To verify the presence of a specific class, .contains() returns true if found, and false otherwise:


Class toggling based on user interaction, such as a mouse click, is achieved with .toggle():

var button = document.getElementById('button');
function toggle() {
button.addEventListener('click', toggle, false);

Explore the functionality through these links:

See demo Download codes

Concluding Thoughts

The classList API, a sleek addition with HTML5, simplifies class manipulation in modern browsers such as Firefox 3.6, Opera 11.5, Chrome 8, and Safari 5.1. However, it’s not supported in Internet Explorer 9 and earlier. For compatibility in these cases, consider using Polyfills to implement the classList API in Internet Explorer.

Additional Resources

Note: This post was first published on January 17, 2014.