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4.3.2 The noscript element

Categories:
Metadata content.
Flow content.
Phrasing content.
Contexts in which this element can be used:
In a head element of an HTML document, if there are no ancestor noscript elements.
Where phrasing content is expected in HTML documents, if there are no ancestor noscript elements.
Content model:
When scripting is disabled, in a head element: in any order, zero or more link elements, zero or more style elements, and zero or more meta elements.
When scripting is disabled, not in a head element: transparent, but there must be no noscript element descendants.
Otherwise: text that conforms to the requirements given in the prose.
Content attributes:
Global attributes
DOM interface:
Uses HTMLElement.

The noscript element represents nothing if scripting is enabled, and represents its children if scripting is disabled. It is used to present different markup to user agents that support scripting and those that don't support scripting, by affecting how the document is parsed.

When used in HTML documents, the allowed content model is as follows:

In a head element, if scripting is disabled for the noscript element

The noscript element must contain only link, style, and meta elements.

In a head element, if scripting is enabled for the noscript element

The noscript element must contain only text, except that invoking the HTML fragment parsing algorithm with the noscript element as the context element and the text contents as the input must result in a list of nodes that consists only of link, style, and meta elements that would be conforming if they were children of the noscript element, and no parse errors.

Outside of head elements, if scripting is disabled for the noscript element

The noscript element's content model is transparent, with the additional restriction that a noscript element must not have a noscript element as an ancestor (that is, noscript can't be nested).

Outside of head elements, if scripting is enabled for the noscript element

The noscript element must contain only text, except that the text must be such that running the following algorithm results in a conforming document with no noscript elements and no script elements, and such that no step in the algorithm causes an HTML parser to flag a parse error:

  1. Remove every script element from the document.
  2. Make a list of every noscript element in the document. For every noscript element in that list, perform the following steps:
    1. Let the parent element be the parent element of the noscript element.
    2. Take all the children of the parent element that come before the noscript element, and call these elements the before children.
    3. Take all the children of the parent element that come after the noscript element, and call these elements the after children.
    4. Let s be the concatenation of all the Text node children of the noscript element.
    5. Set the innerHTML attribute of the parent element to the value of s. (This, as a side-effect, causes the noscript element to be removed from the document.)
    6. Insert the before children at the start of the parent element, preserving their original relative order.
    7. Insert the after children at the end of the parent element, preserving their original relative order.

All these contortions are required because, for historical reasons, the noscript element is handled differently by the HTML parser based on whether scripting was enabled or not when the parser was invoked.

The noscript element must not be used in XML documents.

The noscript element is only effective in the HTML syntax, it has no effect in the XHTML syntax. This is because the way it works is by essentially "turning off" the parser when scripts are enabled, so that the contents of the element are treated as pure text and not as real elements. XML does not define a mechanism by which to do this.

The noscript element has no other requirements. In particular, children of the noscript element are not exempt from form submission, scripting, and so forth, even when scripting is enabled for the element.

In the following example, a noscript element is used to provide fallback for a script.

<form action="calcSquare.php">
 <p>
  <label for=x>Number</label>:
  <input id="x" name="x" type="number">
 </p>
 <script>
  var x = document.getElementById('x');
  var output = document.createElement('p');
  output.textContent = 'Type a number; it will be squared right then!';
  x.form.appendChild(output);
  x.form.onsubmit = function () { return false; }
  x.oninput = function () {
    var v = x.valueAsNumber;
    output.textContent = v + ' squared is ' + v * v;
  };
 </script>
 <noscript>
  <input type=submit value="Calculate Square">
 </noscript>
</form>

When script is disabled, a button appears to do the calculation on the server side. When script is enabled, the value is computed on-the-fly instead.

The noscript element is a blunt instrument. Sometimes, scripts might be enabled, but for some reason the page's script might fail. For this reason, it's generally better to avoid using noscript, and to instead design the script to change the page from being a scriptless page to a scripted page on the fly, as in the next example:

<form action="calcSquare.php">
 <p>
  <label for=x>Number</label>:
  <input id="x" name="x" type="number">
 </p>
 <input id="submit" type=submit value="Calculate Square">
 <script>
  var x = document.getElementById('x');
  var output = document.createElement('p');
  output.textContent = 'Type a number; it will be squared right then!';
  x.form.appendChild(output);
  x.form.onsubmit = function () { return false; }
  x.oninput = function () {
    var v = x.valueAsNumber;
    output.textContent = v + ' squared is ' + v * v;
  };
  var submit = document.getElementById('submit');
  submit.parentNode.removeChild(submit);
 </script>
</form>

The above technique is also useful in XHTML, since noscript is not supported in the XHTML syntax.