Understanding Template Literals in JavaScript

Introduction

The 2015 edition of the ECMAScript specification (ES6) added template literals to the JavaScript language. Template literals are a new form of making strings in JavaScript that add a lot of powerful new capabilities, such as creating multi-line strings more easily and using placeholders to embed expressions in a string. In addition, an advanced feature called tagged template literals allows you to perform operations on the expressions within a string. All of these capabilities increase your options for string manipulation as a developer, letting you generate dynamic strings that could be used for URLs or functions that customize HTML elements.

In this article, you will go over the differences between single/double-quoted strings and template literals, running through the various ways to declare strings of different shape, including multi-line strings and dynamic strings that change depending on the value of a variable or expression. You will then learn about tagged templates and see some real-world examples of projects using them.

Declaring Strings

This section will review how to declare strings with single quotes and double quotes, and will then show you how to do the same with template literals.

In JavaScript, a string can be written with single quotes (' '):

const single = 'Every day is a good day when you paint.'

A string can also be written with double quotes (" "):

const double = "Be so very light. Be a gentle whisper."

There is no major difference in JavaScript between single- or double-quoted strings, unlike other languages that might allow interpolation in one type of string but not the other. In this context, interpolation refers to the evaluation of a placeholder as a dynamic part of a string.

The use of single- or double-quoted strings mostly comes down to personal preference and convention, but used in conjunction, each type of string only needs to escape its own type of quote:

// Escaping a single quote in a single-quoted string
const single = '"We don\'t make mistakes. We just have happy accidents." - Bob Ross'

// Escaping a double quote in a double-quoted string
const double = "\"We don't make mistakes. We just have happy accidents.\" - Bob Ross"

console.log(single);
console.log(double);

The result of the log() method here will print the same two strings to the console:

Output
"We don't make mistakes. We just have happy accidents." - Bob Ross
"We don't make mistakes. We just have happy accidents." - Bob Ross

Template literals, on the other hand, are written by surrounding the string with the backtick character, or grave accent (```):

const template = `Find freedom on this canvas.`

They do not need to escape single or double quotes:

const template = `"We don't make mistakes. We just have happy accidents." - Bob Ross`

However, they do still need to escape backticks:

const template = `Template literals use the \` character.`

Template literals can do everything that regular strings can, so you could possibly replace all strings in your project with them and have the same functionality. However, the most common convention in codebases is to only use template literals when using the additional capabilities of template literals, and consistently using the single or double quotes for all other simple strings. Following this standard will make your code easier to read if examined by another developer.

Now that you’ve seen how to declare strings with single quotes, double quotes, and backticks, you can move on to the first advantage of template literals: writing multi-line strings.

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