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How to get the next and previous siblings of an element with vanilla JS

It’s “siblings week” here at Go Make Things. This week, I’ll be looking at various ways to get and work with sibling elements using vanilla JS.

Today, we’re going to start simple and look at how to get the next and previous sibling of an element.

An example

Let’s say you’ve got a list of items.

	<li>Item 1</li>
	<li>Item 2</li>
	<li>Item 3</li>
	<li>Item 4</li>
	<li id="find-me">Item 5</li>
	<li>Item 6</li>
	<li>Item 7</li>
	<li>Item 8</li>
	<li>Item 9</li>

You want to get the list item immediately before and after #find-me.

To get the sibling before an element, use the previousElementSibling property. To get the sibling immediately after an element, use the nextElementSibling property.

var item = document.querySelector('#find-me');
var prev = item.previousElementSibling;
var next = item.nextElementSibling;

Here’s a demo.

What about nextSibling and previousSibling?

You may have seen or heard of nextSibling and previousSibling.

They do more-or-less the same thing, but they can return whitespace before and after your element instead of an element. For that reason, I prefer previousElementSibling and nextElementSibling.

Browser Compatibility

The previousElementSibling and nextElementSibling properties work in all modern browsers, and IE9 and up.