Understanding JavaScript Event Propagation

Event propagation is an important concept in JavaScript that describes how events are handled and traverse the DOM tree. It consists of two phases: capturing and bubbling. In this guide, we'll explore event propagation in detail and provide examples to illustrate its usage.

The DOM Tree

The Document Object Model (DOM) represents the structure of an HTML document as a tree. Events triggered on elements in the DOM bubble up or propagate down this tree.

Event Phases

Event propagation involves two phases:

  1. Capturing Phase: Events start from the root of the tree and move down to the target element.
  2. Bubbling Phase: Events start from the target element and move up the tree to the root.

Event Propagation Example

Consider a simple example with nested HTML elements to demonstrate event propagation:

Box 1
Box 2
Box 3

Let's add event listeners to these boxes to observe event propagation:

const box1 = document.getElementById("box1");
const box2 = document.getElementById("box2");
const box3 = document.getElementById("box3");
box1.addEventListener("click", function() {
console.log("Box 1 clicked");
}, true); // true indicates capturing phase
box2.addEventListener("click", function() {
console.log("Box 2 clicked");
}, true);
box3.addEventListener("click", function() {
console.log("Box 3 clicked");
}, true);

In this example, we use event listeners with the true parameter to enable capturing phase. Clicking on Box 3 will trigger the capturing phase, resulting in messages in the console that demonstrate the order of event propagation.

Stopping Event Propagation

You can stop event propagation using the stopPropagation() method:

box2.addEventListener("click", function(event) {
console.log("Box 2 clicked");
event.stopPropagation(); // Stops further propagation
}, true);

With this modification, clicking on Box 3 will no longer trigger the capturing phase for Box 2 because propagation is stopped.


Understanding event propagation is crucial for managing and controlling events in web applications. By knowing how events bubble and capture through the DOM tree, you can create more interactive and responsive web pages.

Happy coding!