How to get the HTML for a DOM element in javascript-ThrowExceptions

Exception or error:

Imagine I have the following HTML:

<div><span><b>This is in bold</b></span></div>

I want to get the HTML for the div, including the div itself. Element.innerHTML only returns:


Any ideas? Thanks

How to solve:

Expanding on jldupont’s answer, you could create a wrapping element on the fly:

var target = document.getElementById('myElement');
var wrap = document.createElement('div');

I am cloning the element to avoid having to remove and reinsert the element in the actual document. This might be expensive if the element you wish to print has a very large tree below it, though.


Use outerHTML:

var el = document.getElementById( 'foo' );
alert( el.outerHTML );


First, put on element that wraps the div in question, put an id attribute on the element and then use getElementById on it: once you’ve got the lement, just do ‘e.innerHTML` to retrieve the HTML.

<div><span><b>This is in bold</b></span></div>

<div id="wrap"><div><span><b>This is in bold</b></span></div></div>

and then:

var e=document.getElementById("wrap");
var content=e.innerHTML;

Note that outerHTML is not cross-browser compatible.


If you want a lighter footprint, but a longer script, get the elements innerHTML and only create and clone the empty parent-

function getHTML(who,lines){
    if(!who || !who.tagName) return '';

    var txt, ax, str, el= document.createElement('div');
    txt= el.innerHTML;
    ax= txt.indexOf('>')+1;
    str= txt.substring(0, ax)+who.innerHTML+ txt.substring(ax);

    el= null;
    return lines? str.replace(/> *</g,'>\n<'): str;
    //easier to read if elements are separated


var x = $('#container').get(0).outerHTML;


You’ll want something like this for it to be cross browser.

function OuterHTML(element) {
    var container = document.createElement("div");

    return container.innerHTML;


as outerHTML is IE only, use this function:

function getOuterHtml(node) {
    var parent = node.parentNode;
    var element = document.createElement(parent.tagName);
    var html = element.innerHTML;
    return html;

creates a bogus empty element of the type parent and uses innerHTML on it and then reattaches the element back into the normal dom


define function outerHTML based on support for element.outerHTML:

var temp_container = document.createElement("div"); // empty div not added to DOM
if (temp_container.outerHTML){
    var outerHTML = function(el){return el.outerHTML||el.nodeValue} // e.g. textnodes do not have outerHTML
  } else { // when .outerHTML is not supported
    var outerHTML = function(el){
      var clone = el.cloneNode(true);
      outerhtml = temp_container.innerHTML;
      return outerhtml;


old question but for newcomers that come around :



var el = document.getElementById('foo');

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