How can I change an element's text without changing its child elements?


I'd like to update element's text dynamically:

<div>
   **text to change**
   <someChild>
       text that should not change
   </someChild>
   <someChild>
       text that should not change
   </someChild>
</div>

I'm new to jQuery, so this task seems to be quite challenging for me. Could someone point me to a function/selector to use?

If it is possible, I'd like to do it without adding a new container for the text I need to change.

Mark’s got a better solution using jQuery, but you might be able to do this in regular JavaScript too.

In Javascript, the childNodes property gives you all the child nodes of an element, including text nodes.

So, if you knew the text you wanted to change was always going to be the first thing in the element, then given e.g. this HTML:

<div id="your_div">
   **text to change**
   <p>
       text that should not change
   </p>
   <p>
       text that should not change
   </p>
</div>

You could do this:

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

var text_to_change = your_div.childNodes[0];

text_to_change.nodeValue = 'new text';

Of course, you can still use jQuery to select the <div> in the first place (i.e. var your_div = $('your_div').get(0);).


Update 2018

Since this is a pretty popular answer I decided to update and beautify it a little by adding the textnode selector to jQuery as a plugin.

In the snippet below you can see that I define a new jQuery function that gets all (and only) the textNodes. You can chain of this function as well with for example the first() function. I do a trim on the text node and check if it's not empty after the trim because spaces, tabs, new lines, etc. are also recognized as text nodes. If you need those nodes too then simple remove that from the if statement in the jQuery function.

I added an example how to replace first text node and how to replace all text nodes.

This approach makes it easier to read the code and easier to use it multiple times and with different purposes.

The Update 2017 (adrach) should still work as well if you prefer that.

jQuery.fn.textNodes = function() {
  return this.contents().filter(function() {
    return (this.nodeType === Node.TEXT_NODE && this.nodeValue.trim() !== "");
  });
}

$(document).ready(function(){
  $('#replaceAll').on('click', function() {
    $('#testSubject').textNodes().replaceWith('Replaced');
  });

  $('#replaceFirst').on('click', function() {
    $('#testSubject').textNodes().first().replaceWith('Replaced First');
  });
});
p {
  margin: 0px;
}
<script src="https://ajax.googleapis.com/ajax/libs/jquery/2.1.1/jquery.min.js"></script>
<div id="testSubject">
   **text to change**
   <p>text that should not change</p>
   <p>text that should not change</p>
   **also text to change**
   <p>text that should not change</p>
   <p>text that should not change</p>
   **last text to change**
</div>
<button id="replaceFirst">Replace First</button>
<button id="replaceAll">Replace All</button>


Update 2017 (adrach):

It looks like several things changed since this was posted. Here is an updated version

$("div").contents().filter(function(){ return this.nodeType == 3; }).first().replaceWith("change text");

Original answer (Not working for current versions)

$("div").contents().filter(function(){ return this.nodeType == 3; })
.filter(':first').text("change text");

Source: http://api.jquery.com/contents/


See In action

Markup :

$(function() {
  $('input[type=button]').one('click', function() {
    var cache = $('#parent').children();
    $('#parent').text('Altered Text').append(cache);
  });
});
<script src="https://ajax.googleapis.com/ajax/libs/jquery/2.1.1/jquery.min.js"></script>
<div id="parent">Some text
  <div>Child1</div>
  <div>Child2</div>
  <div>Child3</div>
  <div>Child4</div>
</div>
<input type="button" value="alter text" />


<div id="divtochange">
    **text to change**
    <div>text that should not change</div>
    <div>text that should not change</div>
</div>
$(document).ready(function() {
    $("#divtochange").contents().filter(function() {
            return this.nodeType == 3;
        })
        .replaceWith("changed text");
});

This changes only the first textnode


Just wrap the text you want to change in a span with a class to select.

Doesn't necessarily answer your question I know, but, probably a better coding practice. Keep things clean and simple

<div id="header">
   <span class="my-text">**text to change**</span>
   <div>
       text that should not change
   </div>
   <div>
       text that should not change
   </div>
</div>

Voilà!

$('#header .mytext').text('New text here')

For the specific case you mentioned:

<div id="foo">
   **text to change**
   <someChild>
       text that should not change
   </someChild>
   <someChild>
       text that should not change
   </someChild>
</div>

... this is very easy:

var div = document.getElementById("foo");
div.firstChild.data = "New text";

You don't state how you want to generalize this. If, say, you want to change the text of the first text node within the <div>, you could do something like this:

var child = div.firstChild;
while (child) {
    if (child.nodeType == 3) {
        child.data = "New text";
        break;
    }
    child = child.nextSibling;
}

$.fn.textPreserveChildren = function(text) {
  return this.each(function() {
    return $(this).contents().filter(function() {
      return this.nodeType == 3;
    }).first().replaceWith(text);
  })
}

setTimeout(function() {
  $('.target').textPreserveChildren('Modified');
}, 2000);
.blue {
  background: #77f;
}
.green {
  background: #7f7;
}
<script src="https://ajax.googleapis.com/ajax/libs/jquery/2.1.0/jquery.min.js"></script>

<div class="target blue">Outer text
  <div>Nested element</div>
</div>

<div class="target green">Another outer text
  <div>Another nested element</div>
</div>


Here is yet another method : http://jsfiddle.net/qYUBp/7/

HTML

<div id="header">
   **text to change**
   <div>
       text that should not change
   </div>
   <div>
       text that should not change
   </div>
</div>

JQUERY

var tmp=$("#header>div").html();
$("#header").text("its thursday").append(tmp);

Lots of great answers here but they only handle one text node with children. In my case I needed to operate on all text nodes and ignore html children BUT PRESERVE THE ORDERING.

So if we have a case like this:

<div id="parent"> Some text
    <div>Child1</div>
    <div>Child2</div>
    and some other text
    <div>Child3</div>
    <div>Child4</div>
    and here we are again
</div>

We can use the following code to modify the text only AND PRESERVE THE ORDERING

    $('#parent').contents().filter(function() {
        return this.nodeType == Node.TEXT_NODE && this.nodeValue.trim() != '';
    }).each(function() {
    		//You can ignore the span class info I added for my particular application.
        $(this).replaceWith(this.nodeValue.replace(/(\w+)/g,"<span class='IIIclassIII$1' onclick='_mc(this)' onmouseover='_mr(this);' onmouseout='_mt(this);'>$1X</span>"));
	});
<script src="https://code.jquery.com/jquery-3.0.0.min.js"></script>
<div id="parent"> Some text
    <div>Child1</div>
    <div>Child2</div>
    and some other text
    <div>Child3</div>
    <div>Child4</div>
    and here we are again
</div>

Here is the jsfiddle of it working


I think you're looking for .prependTo().

http://api.jquery.com/prependTo/

We can also select an element on the page and insert it into another:

$('h2').prependTo($('.container'));

If an element selected this way is inserted elsewhere, it will be moved into the target (not cloned):

<div class="container">  
  <h2>Greetings</h2>
  <div class="inner">Hello</div>
  <div class="inner">Goodbye</div> 
</div>

If there is more than one target element, however, cloned copies of the inserted element will be created for each target after the first.


Simple answer:

$("div").contents().filter(function(){ 
  return this.nodeType == 3; 
})[0].nodeValue = "The text you want to replace with"

Problem with Mark's answer is that you get empty textnodes aswell. Solution as jQuery plugin:

$.fn.textnodes = function () {
    return this.contents().filter(function (i,n) {
        return n.nodeType == 3 && n.textContent.trim() !== "";
    });
};

$("div").textnodes()[0] = "changed text";

This is an old question but you can make a simple function like this to make your life easier:

$.fn.toText = function(str) {
    var cache = this.children();
    this.text(str).append(cache);
}

Example:

<div id="my-div">
   **text to change**
   <p>
       text that should not change
   </p>
   <p>
       text that should not change
   </p>
</div>

Usage:

$("#my-div").toText("helloworld");

2019 vesrsion - Short & Simple

document.querySelector('#your-div-id').childNodes[0].nodeValue = 'new text';

Explanation

document.querySelector('#your-div-id') is used for selecting the parent (the element which text you are about to change)

.childNodes[0] selects the text node

.nodeValue = 'new text' sets text node value to "new text"


This answer is possibly inspired by Dean Martin's comment. Can't say for sure since I've been using this solution for years now. Just thought I should post this probability here because some people care about it more than the fact that this is the best solution.