How to Decode HTML Entities Using JavaScript

Sahil Bhosale Feb 02, 2024
  1. Decode HTML Entities Using Vanilla JavaScript
  2. Decode HTML Entities Using he Library
How to Decode HTML Entities Using JavaScript

HTML entities are a set of character codes used to represent characters reserved by HTML. It starts with ampersand & and ends with a semicolon ;. This image provides you with a list of HTML character codes with their respective entity name.

This article will look at how to decode the below string using JavaScript. This string contains various characters like a, b, c, and HTML character entities like &nbps;, <, ', etc.

var str = 'Give&nbsp;us some&#39;<h2>time</h2>&#39; &amp; space <br> Please';

The entire string is stored inside the str variable. There are two ways to decode HTML entities. One way is by using vanilla JavaScript, and the other is by using an external library.

The external library we will be using is the he library. This is one of the most commonly used libraries for encoding and decoding HTML entities.

Decode HTML Entities Using Vanilla JavaScript

One of the simplest ways of decoding HTML entities is by using vanilla JavaScript. The tag used to achieve this is the textarea.

First, we will create a function called decodeEntity(), which takes a string as an input. We will pass the str variable to this function as an argument.

Inside this function, we will first create a textarea element using document.createElement() and then storing the reference of this variable inside the textarea variable.

function decodeEntity(inputStr) {
  var textarea = document.createElement('textarea');
  textarea.innerHTML = inputStr;
  return textarea.value;


var str = "Give&nbsp;us some&#39;<h2>time</h2>&#39; &amp; space <br> Please";
var he = require('he');

We will store the string str inside the textarea using the innerHTML property. The browser automatically converts the str back to its proper HTML format at this step. All the HTML entities will be decoded, and all the HTML tags will be retained.

Finally, using the textarea.value, we will return the decoded string value.

Decode HTML Entities Using he Library

The he is an external library to encode and decode HTML entities written in JavaScript. This library can easily be downloaded by running the below command. The node.js (any version) must be installed on your system for the below command to execute successfully.

To learn more about the he library, visit this link.

npm install he

After we have installed the he library, we can then import that library inside our JavaScript file using the require function and pass the library’s name, he, as a string to this function.

Then we will store the reference of that inside a variable called he. You can use any name to represent this variable.

var str = 'Give&nbsp;us some&#39;<h2>time</h2>&#39; &amp; space <br> Please';
var he = require('he');

The he library has a function called decode() which takes two parameters html and options.

The html parameter is a string that consists of encoded HTML entities and is mandatory to pass. The options parameter is optional and it takes two values isAttributeValue and strict. We don’t need this second parameter, so we will not use it.

We will pass the str variable mentioned above to the he.decode() function, and the resulting output will be as follows.

Give us some '<h2>time</h2>'&space<br>Please

It is easy to decode HTML entities using an external JavaScript library.

Sahil Bhosale avatar Sahil Bhosale avatar

Sahil is a full-stack developer who loves to build software. He likes to share his knowledge by writing technical articles and helping clients by working with them as freelance software engineer and technical writer on Upwork.


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