Difference between stopPropagation and preventDefault?

shafikshaon profile image Mohd. Shafikur Rahman ・3 min read

To know the difference between stopPropagation and preventDefault, we need to know about Event.

What is event?

The Event interface represents an event that takes place in the DOM tree to arrives at its target.

Event propagation has two phases:

Capturing: The browser checks to see if the element's outer-most ancestor <html> has an onclick event handler registered on it in the capturing phase, and runs it if so.

Then it moves on to the next element inside <html> and does the same thing, then the next one, and so on until it reaches the element that was actually clicked on.

The event starts from the window object down until it reaches the event.target.

Bubling: It's the opposite of capturing phase. The browser checks to see if the element that was actually clicked on has an onclick event handler registered on it in the bubbling phase, and runs it if so.

Then it moves on to the next immediate ancestor element and does the same thing, then the next one, and so on until it reaches the element.

The event bubbles up from the event.target element up until it reaches the window object.

event capturing and bubling


The Event interface's preventDefault() method tells the user agent that if the event does not get explicitly handled, its default action should not be taken as it normally would be.

The event.preventDefault() method prevents the default behavior of an element. For example, it prevents <a href="/some-link/">Some link</a> elelment navigating.

Blocking default click handling

Toggling a checkbox is the default action of clicking on a checkbox. This example demonstrates how to prevent that from happening:

document.querySelector("#id-checkbox").addEventListener("click", function(event) {
         document.getElementById("output-box").innerHTML += "Sorry! <code>preventDefault()</code> won't let you check this!<br>";
}, false);
<p>Please click on the checkbox control.</p>

  <label for="id-checkbox">Checkbox:</label>
  <input type="checkbox" id="id-checkbox"/>

<div id="output-box"></div>

If you click on checkbox, then you will show something like this

Sorry!  preventDefault()  won't let you check this!


The stopPropagation() method of the Event interface prevents further propagation of the current event in the capturing and bubbling phases.

By default, all event handlers are registered in the bubbling phase. So if you click on a HTML element, the click event bubbles from the clicked element outwards to the <html> element.

So, we need to use stopPropagation which makes it so that first handler is run but the event doesn't bubble any further up the chain, so no more handlers will be run.

$("#but").click(function (event) {
// since propagation was stopped by the #but id element's click, this alert will never be seen!
$("#foo").click(function () {
    alert("parent click event fired!")
<script src="https://ajax.googleapis.com/ajax/libs/jquery/2.1.1/jquery.min.js"></script>
<div id="foo">
    <button id="but">button</button>

For IE9 and FF you can just use preventDefault & stopPropagation.

To support IE8 and lower replace stopPropagation with cancelBubble and replace preventDefault with returnValue

Kepp learning!


  1. https://developer.mozilla.org/en-US/docs/Web/API/Event/preventDefault
  2. https://developer.mozilla.org/en-US/docs/Learn/JavaScript/Building_blocks/Events
  3. https://stackoverflow.com/questions/5963669/whats-the-difference-between-event-stoppropagation-and-event-preventdefault


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