setAttribute('style', ...) workaround for IE

08 January 2007   41 comments   Javascript

Mind That Age!

This blog post is 10 years old! Most likely, it's content is outdated. Especially if it's technical.

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I knew had I heard it before but I must have completely missed it anyway and forgotten to test my new Javascript widget in IE. None of the stylesheet worked in IE and it didn't make any sense. Here's how I did it first:

var closer = document.createElement('a');
a.setAttribute('style', 'float:left; font-weight:bold');
a.onclick = function() { ...

That worked in Firefox of course but not in IE. The reason is that apparently IE doesn't support this. This brilliant page says that IE is "incomplete" on setAttribute(). Microsoft sucked again! Let's now focus on the workaround I put in place.

First I created a function to would take "font-weight:bold;..." as input and convert that to "'bold'" etc:

function rzCC(s){
  // thanks\
  // retrieving-css-styles-via-javascript/
  for(var exp=/-([a-z])/; 
  return s;

function _setStyle(element, declaration) {
  if (declaration.charAt(declaration.length-1)==';')
    declaration = declaration.slice(0, -1);
  var k, v;
  var splitted = declaration.split(';');
  for (var i=0, len=splitted.length; i<len; i++) {
     k = rzCC(splitted[i].split(':')[0]);
     v = splitted[i].split(':')[1];


I hate having to use eval() but I couldn't think of another way of doing it. Anybody?

Anyhow, now using it is done like this:

var closer = document.createElement('a');
//a.setAttribute('style', 'float:left; font-weight:bold');
_setStyle(a, 'float:left; font-weight:bold');
a.onclick = function() { ...

and it works in IE!


ivo van der Wijk = "..." usually does the trick for me
Peter Bengtsson
Really? I'll give that a try.
Hooray! Thank-you.

In my case, involving styles of a div element, this worked only after I append the div to the body node, but yes!
Yes, this is a really short solution! Thank you all for not giving up on this topic. By the way - it's not possible to code a lot of JavaScript for HTML using the DOM only, is it?
Nice !!! Thx
sanjeev worked!!!
thanks, it works well!

var closer = document.createElement('a');
//a.setAttribute('style', 'float:left; font-weight:bold');

_setStyle(a, 'float:left; font-weight:bold');
a.onclick = function() { ... }


var closer = document.createElement('a');
//closer.setAttribute('style', 'float:left; font-weight:bold');

_setStyle(closer, 'float:left; font-weight:bold');
closer.onclick = function() { ... }

If type 'closer' it's work

Thanks Peter :D
Just what I was looking for.

Thanks a lot!
Wow that was great buddy ! You saved me a lot of weeks. I need to personally thanks you too.
Hi, it helped me to fix appending of new style values, without overwritting all previously declared ones (just those that are meant to change). Thanks.
If you still don't like eval(), try this:[k]= v;
You know objects, arrays, objects...
adrian lee
Thanks a lot! perfect code!!!
Luis Serrano
This is great! I've improved it just a bit:

_setStyle: function (aElement /* object */, aDeclaration /* CSS Declaration */) {
try {
if (aElement) {
aDeclaration = aDeclaration.replace(/\s+/g,''); // remove all white spaces
if (document.all) { // IE Hack
if (aDeclaration.charAt(aDeclaration.length-1)==';')
aDeclaration = aDeclaration.slice(0, -1);
var k, v;
var splitted = aDeclaration.split(';');
for (var i=0, len=splitted.length; i<len; i++) {
k = rzCC(splitted[i].split(':')[0]);
v = splitted[i].split(':')[1];
return (true);
} else { // The clean way
aElement.setAttribute ('style', aDeclaration);
return (true);
} catch (e) {
return (false);

Hope you like it. Good job mate ;)
Luis Serrano
I forgot to tell why I decided to "improve" it: if you put a white space in the css declaratio, such:

background-color: #FFFFFF;

the original code will miss it. You had to put it together for it to work, like:


Oh, and the function declaration in my version is for prototype. If you don't use this technique just change the declaration to:

function _setStyle (aElement /* object */, aDeclaration /* CSS Declaration */)

That's it.

I found myself having issues with this same problem today and have found out a few interesting things.

In IE (they just have to be different don't they) the style attribute is actually treated as an Element. You can set the different style properties by using the syntax shown below.

oNewDiv = createElement('div');'border', '1px solid #000');'backgroundColor', '#fff');

Of course, this fails terribly in firefox :(

However, I have always been able to set styles without the setAttribute function in a cross browser supported way like: = '#fff';
This won't work at all for me, using IE 7 or 8..
Raj Shah
eval() is devil. this workaround is not going to help. infact it will hang your IE and fill your memory with bunch of variables.

If you code little smart using conditions if(document.all) { code here }else{ code here } then everything will be cool.

I've tried and it's working in all browsers.
Try using cssText for ie.'cssText', 'left:150px;.........
you could create function if you wanted.
Emanuele Caldarola
thanks very very very much!
Emanuele Caldarola
I have added this code:

@ivo van der Wijk=You're a genius man!!!
I know it sounds very exagerrated but what the hell... u just saved me a couple of hours of searching

Try this:

var closer = document.createElement('a');"left";"bold";
a.onclick = function() { ...

It works on all browsers !! Enjoy it !!
Hi Quiquelie,
Your code is cool thanks :) i was literally searching for onclick cross browser functionality
Marko Sacher
how is this?[k]= v;
instead of eval(...)
Works like a charm! I definitely needed this dynamic!! Thanks so much!
I like how you automatically escaped the newline in the commented code ;-P
set one or more objects to one or more styles
works in FF,IE,Safari

function a_obj_setstyle(a_obj,a_prop){
for (ko in a_obj){for(kp in a_prop){
Mohsen Elgendy
OMG, your a very smart, you just saved my ass, my client was going to kill me ,, lol

Thanks a lot body ;)
Marcellino Bommezijn
This is how it works in IE"float:left;margin-right:7px;margin-bottom:7px";
Steve Bucknall
The simple solutions are always the best.
You're the best web programmer!!!!!

I hate IE...

Thanks a lot!!!!
Hello guys,

If you have short form in your style like :

font: normal normal bold xx-small verdana, serif;

This cut function will cut the spaces and mix the css -->
Oh thats work great... thankssssssss.....
I had a similar issue with setAttribute not working on IE. I put it in a try block, and in the catch block I used outerHTML for the IE version. outerHTML is read/write, so my function could dynamically get the code of the existing control, and then replace whatever had to change. One quirk is that IE rewrites the control's code in outerHTML, so I had to work around that a little, but it worked.
Alex Huang
thanks ur code, but if i want to remove one of css that i added, how can i do that????
document.getElementById('name').className = "yourClass";
People, DO NOT USE eval(). Especially not in such an easy cases.

is almost identical (I'll explain) to this:[k] = v;

When you create an object: var obj = { a: 1, b: 2, c: 3 };
You can (get or) set the values like:
obj.a = 10
which is identical to:
obj["a"] = 10

As to where that eval(""+k+"='"+v+"'"); differs from the direct method is that if you'd try to set for example a background image, this'd be the css:
background-image: url('/images/someImage.png')
If you use that in the eval, this is the code that'll be evaluated:'url('/images/someImage.png')'
Which obviously results in a syntax error because of the single quotes. Of course that could be solved by first replacing \ into \\ and then ' into \'.

Eval is evil, there are rarely ever situations where there's need for eval, and even if there are try your absolute best to find a way around.
Such a small change avoids:
1. The performance hit you have from using eval()
2. Making your code less secure (for example, if some 3rd party code executes: _setStyle(someElement, "width: 10px' alert('My evil message, muauauauaua') var rndDump = '; height: 10px;"), it would of course run the injected code)
3. Spreading bad code like this across other people's sites, possibly harming the identity and privacy of people browsing the web.
Peter Bengtsson
It's been many years since I wrote that but I think the point is that the stupid eval was necessary because of IE.
Then again, I've stopped caring about it working in IE.
Unless you're doing commercial work that's always a good choice :P.
Nevertheless even in IE this eval wasn't necessary :).

And I also know that this is an old article, but these are still the articles beginners find when they run into this issue, and that's why I made the comment.
Event at my old company where I had co-workers who all finished collage for web development, and they still didn't know how to write proper javascript and had all sorts of hacky scripts like this one in their code.
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