.before()

.before( content ) Returns: jQuery

Description: Insert content, specified by the parameter, before each element in the set of matched elements.

  • version added: 1.0.before( content )

    contentAn element, HTML string, or jQuery object to insert before each element in the set of matched elements.

  • version added: 1.4.before( function )

    functionA function that returns an HTML string to insert before each element in the set of matched elements.

The .before() and .insertBefore() methods perform the same task. The major difference is in the syntax-specifically, in the placement of the content and target. With .before(), the selector expression preceding the method is the container before which the content is inserted. With .insertBefore(), on the other hand, the content precedes the method, either as a selector expression or as markup created on the fly, and it is inserted before the target container.

Consider the following HTML:

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

We can create content and insert it before several elements at once:

$('.inner').before('<p>Test</p>');

Each inner <div> element gets this new content:

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

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

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

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

<h2>Greetings</h2>
<div class="container">
  <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.

In jQuery 1.4, .before() and .after() will also work on disconnected DOM nodes:

$("<div/>").before("<p></p>");

The result is a jQuery set that contains a paragraph and a div (in that order).

Examples:

Example: Inserts some HTML before all paragraphs.

<!DOCTYPE html>
<html>
<head>
  <style>p { background:yellow; }</style>
  <script src="http://code.jquery.com/jquery-latest.js"></script>
</head>
<body>
	<p> is what I said...</p>
<script>$("p").before("<b>Hello</b>");</script>
</body>
</html>

Demo:

Example: Inserts a DOM element before all paragraphs.

<!DOCTYPE html>
<html>
<head>
  <style>p { background:yellow; }</style>
  <script src="http://code.jquery.com/jquery-latest.js"></script>
</head>
<body>
	<p> is what I said...</p>
<script>$("p").before( document.createTextNode("Hello") );</script>
</body>
</html>

Demo:

Example: Inserts a jQuery object (similar to an Array of DOM Elements) before all paragraphs.

<!DOCTYPE html>
<html>
<head>
  <style>p { background:yellow; }</style>
  <script src="http://code.jquery.com/jquery-latest.js"></script>
</head>
<body>
	<p> is what I said...</p><b>Hello</b>
<script>$("p").before( $("b") );</script>
</body>
</html>

Demo: