1. 6 User interaction
    1. 6.1 The hidden attribute
    2. 6.2 Inert subtrees
    3. 6.3 Activation
    4. 6.4 Focus
      1. 6.4.1 Introduction
      2. 6.4.2 Data model
      3. 6.4.3 The tabindex attribute
      4. 6.4.4 Focus management APIs
    5. 6.5 Assigning keyboard shortcuts
      1. 6.5.1 Introduction
      2. 6.5.2 The accesskey attribute
    6. 6.6 Editing
      1. 6.6.1 Making document regions editable: The contenteditable content attribute
      2. 6.6.2 Making entire documents editable: the designMode IDL attribute
      3. 6.6.3 Best practices for in-page editors
      4. 6.6.4 Spelling and grammar checking
      5. 6.6.5 Autocapitalization
      6. 6.6.6 Input modalities: the inputmode attribute

6 User interaction

6.1 The hidden attribute

Support: hiddenChrome for Android 67+Chrome 6+iOS Safari 5.0+UC Browser for Android 11.8+Firefox 4+IE 11+Opera Mini all+Safari 5.1+Edge 12+Samsung Internet 4+Android Browser 4+Opera 11.1+

Source: caniuse.com

All HTML elements may have the hidden content attribute set. The hidden attribute is a boolean attribute. When specified on an element, it indicates that the element is not yet, or is no longer, directly relevant to the page's current state, or that it is being used to declare content to be reused by other parts of the page as opposed to being directly accessed by the user.

Because this attribute is typically implemented using CSS, it's also possible to override it using CSS. For instance, a rule that applies 'display: block' to all elements will cancel the effects of the hidden attribute. Authors therefore have to take care when writing their style sheets to make sure that the attribute is still styled as expected.

In the following skeletal example, the attribute is used to hide the Web game's main screen until the user logs in:

  <h1>The Example Game</h1>
  <section id="login">
    <!-- calls login() once the user's credentials have been checked -->
    function login() {
      // switch screens
      document.getElementById('login').hidden = true;
      document.getElementById('game').hidden = false;
  <section id="game" hidden>

The hidden attribute must not be used to hide content that could legitimately be shown in another presentation. For example, it is incorrect to use hidden to hide panels in a tabbed dialog, because the tabbed interface is merely a kind of overflow presentation — one could equally well just show all the form controls in one big page with a scrollbar. It is similarly incorrect to use this attribute to hide content just from one presentation — if something is marked hidden, it is hidden from all presentations, including, for instance, screen readers.

Elements that are not themselves hidden must not hyperlink to elements that are hidden. The for attributes of label and output elements that are not themselves hidden must similarly not refer to elements that are hidden. In both cases, such references would cause user confusion.

Elements and scripts may, however, refer to elements that are hidden in other contexts.

For example, it would be incorrect to use the href attribute to link to a section marked with the hidden attribute. If the content is not applicable or relevant, then there is no reason to link to it.

It would be fine, however, to use the ARIA aria-describedby attribute to refer to descriptions that are themselves hidden. While hiding the descriptions implies that they are not useful alone, they could be written in such a way that they are useful in the specific context of being referenced from the images that they describe.

Similarly, a canvas element with the hidden attribute could be used by a scripted graphics engine as an off-screen buffer, and a form control could refer to a hidden form element using its form attribute.

Elements in a section hidden by the hidden attribute are still active, e.g. scripts and form controls in such sections still execute and submit respectively. Only their presentation to the user changes.

6.2 Inert subtrees

This section does not define or create any content attribute named "inert". This section merely defines an abstract concept of inertness.

A node (in particular elements and text nodes) can be marked as inert. When a node is inert, then the user agent must act as if the node was absent for the purposes of targeting user interaction events, may ignore the node for the purposes of text search user interfaces (commonly known as "find in page"), and may prevent the user from selecting text in that node. User agents should allow the user to override the restrictions on search and text selection, however.

For example, consider a page that consists of just a single inert paragraph positioned in the middle of a body. If a user moves their pointing device from the body over to the inert paragraph and clicks on the paragraph, no mouseover event would be fired, and the mousemove and click events would be fired on the body element rather than the paragraph.

When a node is inert, it generally cannot be focused. Inert nodes that are commands will also get disabled.

While a browsing context container is marked as inert, its nested browsing context's active document, and all nodes in that Document, must be marked as inert.

An element is expressly inert if it is inert and its node document is not inert.

A Document document is blocked by a modal dialog subject if subject is the topmost dialog element in document's top layer. While document is so blocked, every node that is connected to document, with the exception of the subject element and its shadow-including descendants, must be marked inert. (The elements excepted by this paragraph can additionally be marked inert through other means; being part of a modal dialog does not "protect" a node from being marked inert.)

The dialog element's showModal() method causes this mechanism to trigger, by adding the dialog element to its node document's top layer.

6.3 Activation

Certain elements in HTML have an activation behavior, which means that the user can activate them. This is always caused by a click event.

element . click()

Acts as if the element was clicked.

6.4 Focus

6.4.1 Introduction

An HTML user interface typically consists of multiple interactive widgets, such as form controls, scrollable regions, links, dialog boxes, browser tabs, and so forth. These widgets form a hierarchy, with some (e.g. browser tabs, dialog boxes) containing others (e.g. links, form controls).

When interacting with an interface using a keyboard, key input is channeled from the system, through the hierarchy of interactive widgets, to an active widget, which is said to be focused.

Consider an HTML application running in a browser tab running in a graphical environment. Suppose this application had a page with some text controls and links, and was currently showing a modal dialog, which itself had a text control and a button.

The hierarchy of focusable widgets, in this scenario, would include the browser window, which would have, amongst its children, the browser tab containing the HTML application. The tab itself would have as its children the various links and text controls, as well as the dialog. The dialog itself would have as its children the text control and the button.

If the widget with focus in this example was the text control in the dialog box, then key input would be channeled from the graphical system to ① the Web browser, then to ② the tab, then to ③ the dialog, and finally to ④ the text control.

Keyboard events are always targeted at this focused element.

6.4.2 Data model

The term focusable area is used to refer to regions of the interface that can become the target of keyboard input. Focusable areas can be elements, parts of elements, or other regions managed by the user agent.

Each focusable area has a DOM anchor, which is a Node object that represents the position of the focusable area in the DOM. (When the focusable area is itself a Node, it is its own DOM anchor.) The DOM anchor is used in some APIs as a substitute for the focusable area when there is no other DOM object to represent the focusable area.

The following table describes what objects can be focusable areas. The cells in the left column describe objects that can be focusable areas; the cells in the right column describe the DOM anchors for those elements. (The cells that span both columns are non-normative examples.)

Focusable area DOM anchor
Elements that have their tabindex focus flag set, that are not actually disabled, that are not expressly inert, and that are either being rendered or being used as relevant canvas fallback content. The element itself.

iframe, <input type=text>, sometimes <a href=""> (depending on platform conventions).

The shapes of area elements in an image map associated with an img element that is being rendered and is not expressly inert. The img element.

In the following example, the area element creates two shapes, one on each image. The DOM anchor of the first shape is the first img element, and the DOM anchor of the second shape is the second img element.

<map id=wallmap><area alt="Enter Door" coords="10,10,100,200" href="door.html"></map>
<img src="images/innerwall.jpeg" alt="There is a white wall here, with a door." usemap="#wallmap">
<img src="images/outerwall.jpeg" alt="There is a red wall here, with a door." usemap="#wallmap">
The user-agent provided subwidgets of elements that are being rendered and are not actually disabled or expressly inert. The element for which the focusable area is a subwidget.

The controls in the user interface that is exposed to the user for a video element, the up and down buttons in a spin-control version of <input type=number>, the two range control widgets in a <input type=range multiple>, the part of a details element's rendering that enabled the element to be opened or closed using keyboard input.

The scrollable regions of elements that are being rendered and are not expressly inert. The element for which the box that the scrollable region scrolls was created.

The CSS 'overflow' property's 'scroll' value typically creates a scrollable region.

The viewport of a Document that has a browsing context and is not inert. The Document for which the viewport was created.

The contents of an iframe.

Any other element or part of an element, especially to aid with accessibility or to better match platform conventions. The element.

A user agent could make all list item bullets focusable, so that a user can more easily navigate lists.

Similarly, a user agent could make all elements with title attributes focusable, so that their advisory information can be accessed.

A browsing context container (e.g. an iframe) is a focusable area, but key events routed to a browsing context container get immediately routed to the nested browsing context's active document. Similarly, in sequential focus navigation a browsing context container essentially acts merely as a placeholder for its nested browsing context's active document.

One focusable area in each Document is designated the focused area of the document. Which control is so designated changes over time, based on algorithms in this specification.

Focusable areas in a Document are ordered relative to the tree order of their DOM anchors. Focusable areas with the same DOM anchor in a Document are ordered relative to their CSS boxes' relative positions in a pre-order, depth-first traversal of the box tree. [CSS]

The currently focused area of a top-level browsing context at any particular time is the focusable area returned by this algorithm:

  1. Let candidate be the Document of the top-level browsing context.

  2. If the designated focused area of the document is a browsing context container with a non-null nested browsing context, then let candidate be the active document of that browsing context container's nested browsing context, and redo this step.

  3. If candidate has a focused area, set candidate to candidate's focused area.

  4. Return candidate.

An element that is the DOM anchor of a focusable area is said to gain focus when that focusable area becomes the currently focused area of a top-level browsing context. When an element is the DOM anchor of a focusable area of the currently focused area of a top-level browsing context, it is focused.

6.4.3 The tabindex attribute

The tabindex content attribute allows authors to indicate that an element is supposed to be focusable, and whether it is supposed to be reachable using sequential focus navigation and, if so, what is to be the relative order of the element for the purposes of sequential focus navigation. The name "tab index" comes from the common use of the "tab" key to navigate through the focusable elements. The term "tabbing" refers to moving forward through the focusable elements that can be reached using sequential focus navigation.

Support: tabindex-attrChrome for Android 67+Chrome 15+iOS Safari 3.2+Firefox 4+IE 7+Safari 5.1+Edge 12+Opera 9.5+

Source: caniuse.com

When the attribute is omitted, the user agent applies defaults. (There is no way to make an element that is being rendered be not focusable at all without disabling it or making it inert.)

The tabindex attribute, if specified, must have a value that is a valid integer. Positive numbers specify the relative position of the element's focusable areas in the sequential focus navigation order, and negative numbers indicate that the control is to be unreachable by sequential focus navigation.

Developers should use caution when using values other than 0 or −1 for their tabindex attributes as this is complicated to do correctly.

6.4.4 Focus management APIs

dictionary FocusOptions {
  boolean preventScroll = false;
document . activeElement

Returns the deepest element in the document through which or to which key events are being routed. This is, roughly speaking, the focused element in the document.

For the purposes of this API, when a child browsing context is focused, its browsing context container is focused in the parent browsing context. For example, if the user moves the focus to a text control in an iframe, the iframe is the element returned by the activeElement API in the iframe's node document.

document . hasFocus()

Returns true if key events are being routed through or to the document; otherwise, returns false. Roughly speaking, this corresponds to the document, or a document nested inside this one, being focused.

window . focus()

Moves the focus to the window's browsing context, if any.

element . focus([ { preventScroll: true } ])

Moves the focus to the element.

If the element is a browsing context container, moves the focus to the nested browsing context instead.

By default, this method also scrolls the element into view. Providing the preventScroll option and setting it to true prevents this behavior.

element . blur()

Moves the focus to the viewport. Use of this method is discouraged; if you want to focus the viewport, call the focus() method on the Document's document element.

Do not use this method to hide the focus ring if you find the focus ring unsightly. Instead, use a CSS rule to override the 'outline' property, and provide a different way to show what element is focused. Be aware that if an alternative focusing style isn't made available, the page will be significantly less usable for people who primarily navigate pages using a keyboard, or those with reduced vision who use focus outlines to help them navigate the page.

For example, to hide the outline from links and instead use a yellow background to indicate focus, you could use:

:link:focus, :visited:focus { outline: none; background: yellow; color: black; }

6.5 Assigning keyboard shortcuts

6.5.1 Introduction

Each element that can be activated or focused can be assigned a single key combination to activate it, using the accesskey attribute.

The exact shortcut is determined by the user agent, based on information about the user's keyboard, what keyboard shortcuts already exist on the platform, and what other shortcuts have been specified on the page, using the information provided in the accesskey attribute as a guide.

In order to ensure that a relevant keyboard shortcut is available on a wide variety of input devices, the author can provide a number of alternatives in the accesskey attribute.

Each alternative consists of a single character, such as a letter or digit.

User agents can provide users with a list of the keyboard shortcuts, but authors are encouraged to do so also. The accessKeyLabel IDL attribute returns a string representing the actual key combination assigned by the user agent.

In this example, an author has provided a button that can be invoked using a shortcut key. To support full keyboards, the author has provided "C" as a possible key. To support devices equipped only with numeric keypads, the author has provided "1" as another possibly key.

<input type=button value=Collect onclick="collect()"
       accesskey="C 1" id=c>

To tell the user what the shortcut key is, the author has this script here opted to explicitly add the key combination to the button's label:

function addShortcutKeyLabel(button) {
  if (button.accessKeyLabel != '')
    button.value += ' (' + button.accessKeyLabel + ')';

Browsers on different platforms will show different labels, even for the same key combination, based on the convention prevalent on that platform. For example, if the key combination is the Control key, the Shift key, and the letter C, a Windows browser might display "Ctrl+Shift+C", whereas a Mac browser might display "^⇧C", while an Emacs browser might just display "C-C". Similarly, if the key combination is the Alt key and the Escape key, Windows might use "Alt+Esc", Mac might use "⌥⎋", and an Emacs browser might use "M-ESC" or "ESC ESC".

In general, therefore, it is unwise to attempt to parse the value returned from the accessKeyLabel IDL attribute.

6.5.2 The accesskey attribute

All HTML elements may have the accesskey content attribute set. The accesskey attribute's value is used by the user agent as a guide for creating a keyboard shortcut that activates or focuses the element.

If specified, the value must be an ordered set of unique space-separated tokens that are case-sensitive, each of which must be exactly one code point in length.

In the following example, a variety of links are given with access keys so that keyboard users familiar with the site can more quickly navigate to the relevant pages:

  <a title="Consortium Activities" accesskey="A" href="/Consortium/activities">Activities</a> |
  <a title="Technical Reports and Recommendations" accesskey="T" href="/TR/">Technical Reports</a> |
  <a title="Alphabetical Site Index" accesskey="S" href="/Consortium/siteindex">Site Index</a> |
  <a title="About This Site" accesskey="B" href="/Consortium/">About Consortium</a> |
  <a title="Contact Consortium" accesskey="C" href="/Consortium/contact">Contact</a>

In the following example, the search field is given two possible access keys, "s" and "0" (in that order). A user agent on a device with a full keyboard might pick Ctrl+Alt+S as the shortcut key, while a user agent on a small device with just a numeric keypad might pick just the plain unadorned key 0:

<form action="/search">
 <label>Search: <input type="search" name="q" accesskey="s 0"></label>
 <input type="submit">

In the following example, a button has possible access keys described. A script then tries to update the button's label to advertise the key combination the user agent selected.

<input type=submit accesskey="N @ 1" value="Compose">
 function labelButton(button) {
   if (button.accessKeyLabel)
     button.value += ' (' + button.accessKeyLabel + ')';
 var inputs = document.getElementsByTagName('input');
 for (var i = 0; i < inputs.length; i += 1) {
   if (inputs[i].type == "submit")

On one user agent, the button's label might become "Compose (⌘N)". On another, it might become "Compose (Alt+⇧+1)". If the user agent doesn't assign a key, it will be just "Compose". The exact string depends on what the assigned access key is, and on how the user agent represents that key combination.

6.6 Editing

6.6.1 Making document regions editable: The contenteditable content attribute

Support: contenteditableChrome for Android 67+Chrome 4+iOS Safari 5.0+UC Browser for Android 11.8+Firefox 3.5+IE 5.5+Opera Mini NoneSafari 3.1+Edge 12+Samsung Internet 4+Android Browser 3+Opera 9+

Source: caniuse.com

interface mixin ElementContentEditable {
  [CEReactions] attribute DOMString contentEditable;
  readonly attribute boolean isContentEditable;
  [CEReactions] attribute DOMString inputMode;

The contenteditable content attribute is an enumerated attribute whose keywords are the empty string, true, and false. The empty string and the true keyword map to the true state. The false keyword maps to the false state. In addition, there is a third state, the inherit state, which is the missing value default and the invalid value default.

The true state indicates that the element is editable. The inherit state indicates that the element is editable if its parent is. The false state indicates that the element is not editable.

For example, consider a page that has a form and a textarea to publish a new article, where the user is expected to write the article using HTML:

<form method=POST>
  <legend>New article</legend>
  <textarea name=article><p>Hello world.</p></textarea>

When scripting is enabled, the textarea element could be replaced with a rich text control instead, using the contenteditable attribute:

<form method=POST>
  <legend>New article</legend>
  <textarea id=textarea name=article><p>Hello world.</p></textarea>
  <div id=div style="white-space: pre-wrap" hidden><p>Hello world.</p></div>
   let textarea = document.getElementById("textarea");
   let div = document.getElementById("div");
   textarea.hidden = true;
   div.hidden = false;
   div.contentEditable = "true";
   div.oninput = (e) => {
     textarea.value = div.innerHTML;

Features to enable, e.g., inserting links, can be implemented using the document.execCommand() API, or using Selection APIs and other DOM APIs. [EXECCOMMAND] [SELECTION] [DOM]

The contenteditable attribute can also be used to great effect:

<!doctype html>
<html lang=en>
<title>Live CSS editing!</title>
<style style=white-space:pre contenteditable>
html { margin:.2em; font-size:2em; color:lime; background:purple }
head, title, style { display:block }
body { display:none }
element . contentEditable [ = value ]

Returns "true", "false", or "inherit", based on the state of the contenteditable attribute.

Can be set, to change that state.

Throws a "SyntaxError" DOMException if the new value isn't one of those strings.

element . isContentEditable

Returns true if the element is editable; otherwise, returns false.

6.6.2 Making entire documents editable: the designMode IDL attribute

document . designMode [ = value ]

Returns "on" if the document is editable, and "off" if it isn't.

Can be set, to change the document's current state. This focuses the document and resets the selection in that document.

6.6.3 Best practices for in-page editors

Authors are encouraged to set the 'white-space' property on editing hosts and on markup that was originally created through these editing mechanisms to the value 'pre-wrap'. Default HTML whitespace handling is not well suited to WYSIWYG editing, and line wrapping will not work correctly in some corner cases if 'white-space' is left at its default value.

As an example of problems that occur if the default 'normal' value is used instead, consider the case of the user typing "yellow␣␣ball", with two spaces (here represented by "␣") between the words. With the editing rules in place for the default value of 'white-space' ('normal'), the resulting markup will either consist of "yellow&nbsp; ball" or "yellow &nbsp;ball"; i.e., there will be a non-breaking space between the two words in addition to the regular space. This is necessary because the 'normal' value for 'white-space' requires adjacent regular spaces to be collapsed together.

In the former case, "yellow⍽" might wrap to the next line ("⍽" being used here to represent a non-breaking space) even though "yellow" alone might fit at the end of the line; in the latter case, "⍽ball", if wrapped to the start of the line, would have visible indentation from the non-breaking space.

When 'white-space' is set to 'pre-wrap', however, the editing rules will instead simply put two regular spaces between the words, and should the two words be split at the end of a line, the spaces would be neatly removed from the rendering.

6.6.4 Spelling and grammar checking

Support: spellcheck-attributeChrome for Android (limited) 67+Chrome 9+iOS Safari (limited) 3.2+UC Browser for Android (limited) 11.8+Firefox 2+IE 10+Opera Mini (limited) all+Safari 5.1+Edge 12+Samsung Internet (limited) 4+Android Browser (limited) 2.1+Opera 10.5+

Source: caniuse.com

The spellcheck attribute is an enumerated attribute whose keywords are the empty string, true and false. The empty string and the true keyword map to the true state. The false keyword maps to the false state. In addition, there is a third state, the default state, which is the missing value default and the invalid value default.

The true state indicates that the element is to have its spelling and grammar checked. The default state indicates that the element is to act according to a default behavior, possibly based on the parent element's own spellcheck state, as defined below. The false state indicates that the element is not to be checked.

element . spellcheck [ = value ]

Returns true if the element is to have its spelling and grammar checked; otherwise, returns false.

Can be set, to override the default and set the spellcheck content attribute.

This specification does not define the user interface for spelling and grammar checkers. A user agent could offer on-demand checking, could perform continuous checking while the checking is enabled, or could use other interfaces.

6.6.5 Autocapitalization

Some methods of entering text, for example virtual keyboards on mobile devices, and also voice input, often assist users by automatically capitalizing the first letter of sentences (when composing text in a language with this convention). A virtual keyboard that implements autocapitalization might automatically switch to showing uppercase letters (but allow the user to toggle it back to lowercase) when a letter that should be autocapitalized is about to be typed. Other types of input, for example voice input, may perform autocapitalization in a way that does not give users an option to intervene first. The autocapitalize attribute allows authors to control such behavior.

The autocapitalize attribute, as typically implemented, does not affect behavior when typing on a physical keyboard. (For this reason, as well as the ability for users to override the autocapitalization behavior in some cases or edit the text after initial input, the attribute must not be relied on for any sort of input validation.)

The autocapitalize attribute can be used on an editing host to control autocapitalization behavior for the hosted editable region, on an input or textarea element to control the behavior for inputting text into that element, or on a form element to control the default behavior for all autocapitalize-inheriting elements associated with the form element.

The autocapitalize attribute never causes autocapitalization to be enabled for input elements whose type attribute is in one of the URL, E-mail, or Password states.

The autocapitalization processing model is based on selecting among five autocapitalization hints, defined as follows:


The user agent and input method should use make their own determination of whether or not to enable autocapitalization.


No autocapitalization should be applied (all letters should default to lowercase).


The first letter of each sentence should default to a capital letter; all other letters should default to lowercase.


The first letter of each word should default to a capital letter; all other letters should default to lowercase.


All letters should default to uppercase.

The autocapitalize attribute is an enumerated attribute whose states are the possible autocapitalization hints. The autocapitalization hint specified by the attribute's state combines with other considerations to form the used autocapitalization hint, which informs the behavior of the user agent. The keywords for this attribute and their state mappings are as follows:

Keyword State
off none
on sentences
words words
characters characters

The invalid value default is the sentences state. The missing value default is the default state.

element . autocapitalize [ = value ]

Returns the current autocapitalization state for the element, or an empty string if it hasn't been set. Note that for input and textarea elements that inherit their state from a form element, this will return the autocapitalization state of the form element, but for an element in an editable region, this will not return the autocapitalization state of the editing host (unless this element is, in fact, the editing host).

Can be set, to set the autocapitalize content attribute (and thereby change the autocapitalization behavior for the element).

6.6.6 Input modalities: the inputmode attribute

Support: input-inputmodeChrome for Android 67+Chrome 66+iOS Safari NoneUC Browser for Android NoneFirefox NoneIE NoneOpera Mini NoneSafari NoneEdge NoneSamsung Internet NoneAndroid Browser 67+Opera 53+

Source: caniuse.com

User agents can support the inputmode attribute on form controls (such as the value of textarea elements), or in elements in an editing host (e.g., using contenteditable).

The inputmode content attribute is an enumerated attribute that specifies what kind of input mechanism would be most helpful for users entering content.

Keyword Description
none The user agent should not display a virtual keyboard. This keyword is useful for content that renders its own keyboard control.
text The user agent should display a virtual keyboard capable of text input in the user's locale.
tel The user agent should display a virtual keyboard capable of telephone number input. This should including keys for the digits 0 to 9, the "#" character, and the "*" character. In some locales, this can also include alphabetic mnemonic labels (e.g., in the US, the key labeled "2" is historically also labeled with the letters A, B, and C).
url The user agent should display a virtual keyboard capable of text input in the user's locale, with keys for aiding in the input of URLs, such as that for the "/" and "." characters and for quick input of strings commonly found in domain names such as "www." or ".com".
email The user agent should display a virtual keyboard capable of text input in the user's locale, with keys for aiding in the input of e-mail addresses, such as that for the "@" character and the "." character.
numeric The user agent should display a virtual keyboard capable of numeric input. This keyword is useful for PIN entry.
decimal The user agent should display a virtual keyboard capable of fractional numeric input. Numeric keys and the format separator for the locale should be shown.
search The user agent should display a virtual keyboard optimized for search.