Difference between event.preventDefault() and return false [Answered]

Query explained:

When I want to prevent other event handlers from executing after a certain event is fired, I can use one of two techniques. I’ll use jQuery in the examples, but this applies to plain-JS as well:

1. event.preventDefault()

$('a').click(function (e) {
    // custom handling here

2. return false

$('a').click(function () {
    // custom handling here
    return false;

Is there any significant difference between those two methods of stopping event propagation?

For me, return false; is simpler, shorter and probably less error prone than executing a method. With the method, you have to remember about correct casing, parenthesis, etc.

Also, I have to define the first parameter in callback to be able to call the method. Perhaps, there are some reasons why I should avoid doing it like this and use preventDefault instead? What’s the better way?

What is the difference between event.preventDefault() and return false? Answer #1:

return false from within a jQuery event handler is effectively the same as calling both e.preventDefault and e.stopPropagation on the passed jQuery.Event object.

e.preventDefault() will prevent the default event from occuring, e.stopPropagation() will prevent the event from bubbling up and return false will do both. Note that this behaviour differs from normal (non-jQuery) event handlers, in which, notably, return false does not stop the event from bubbling up.

Answer #2:

From my experience, there is at least one clear advantage when using event.preventDefault() over using return false. Suppose you are capturing the click event on an anchor tag, otherwise which it would be a big problem if the user were to be navigated away from the current page. If your click handler uses return false to prevent browser navigation, it opens the possibility that the interpreter will not reach the return statement and the browser will proceed to execute the anchor tag’s default behavior.

$('a').click(function (e) {
  // custom handling here

  // oops...runtime error...where oh where will the href take me?

  return false;

The benefit to using event.preventDefault() is that you can add this as the first line in the handler, thereby guaranteeing that the anchor’s default behavior will not fire, regardless if the last line of the function is not reached (eg. runtime error).

$('a').click(function (e) {

  // custom handling here

  // oops...runtime error, but at least the user isn't navigated away.

Answer #3:

This is not, as you’ve titled it, a “JavaScript” question; it is a question regarding the design of jQuery.

jQuery and the previously linked citation from John Resig seem to be the source of misunderstanding of how event handlers in general work.

Fact: An event handler that returns false prevents the default action for that event. It does not stop the event propagation. Event handlers have always worked this way, since the old days of Netscape Navigator.

The documentation from MDN explains how return false in an event handler works

What happens in jQuery is not the same as what happens with event handlers. DOM event listeners and MSIE “attached” events are a different matter altogether.

Answer #4:

When using jQuery, return false is doing 3 separate things when you call it:

  1. event.preventDefault();
  2. event.stopPropagation();
  3. Stops callback execution and returns immediately when called.

Answer #5:

You can hang a lot of functions on the onClick event for one element. How can you be sure the false one will be the last one to fire? preventDefault on the other hand will definitely prevent only the default behavior of the element.

Answer #6:

I think


is the w3c specified way of canceling events.

You can read this in the W3C spec on Event cancelation.

Also you can’t use return false in every situation. When giving a javascript function in the href attribute and if you return false then the user will be redirected to a page with false string written.

What is the difference between event.preventDefault() and return false? – Answer #7:

I think the best way to do this is to use event.preventDefault() because if some exception is raised in the handler, then the return false statement will be skipped and the behavior will be opposite to what you want.

But if you are sure that the code won’t trigger any exceptions, then you can go with any of the method you wish.

If you still want to go with the return false, then you can put your entire handler code in a try catch block like below:

$('a').click(function (e) {
      your code here.........
  return false;

Answer #8:


It simply stops the default action of an element.

Instance Ex.:-

prevents the hyperlink from following the URL, prevents the submit button to submit the form. When you have many event handlers and you just want to prevent default event from occuring, & occuring from many times, for that we need to use in the top of the function().


The reason to use e.preventDefault(); is that in our code so something goes wrong in the code, then it will allow to execute the link or form to get submitted or allow to execute or allow whatever action you need to do. & link or submit button will get submitted & still allow further propagation of the event.

<!DOCTYPE html>
<html lang="en" dir="ltr">
      <meta charset="utf-8">
      <script src="https://ajax.googleapis.com/ajax/libs/jquery/2.1.1/jquery.min.js"></script>
      <a href="https://www.google.com" onclick="doSomethingElse()">Preventsss page from redirect</a>
      <script type="text/javascript">
         function doSomethingElse(){
           console.log("This is Test...");

About ᴾᴿᴼᵍʳᵃᵐᵐᵉʳ

Linux and Python enthusiast, in love with open source since 2014, Writer at programming-articles.com, India.

View all posts by ᴾᴿᴼᵍʳᵃᵐᵐᵉʳ →