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Explaining Abbreviations

Abbreviations and acronyms (an abbreviation that can be pronounced as a word) abound. Unfortunately, people use them so often that they sometimes forget that not everyone knows what they mean. You can use the abbr and acronym elements to add meaning to the abbreviation or acronym in question without breaking the flow of your Web page or distracting your readers with extra links.

To explain abbreviations:

Type <abbr.

Or type <acronym if the abbreviation can be pronounced as a word.

Next type title="explanation", where explanation gives more details about the abbreviation.

Type >.

Then type the abbreviation itself.

Finally, finish up with </abbr> or </acronym> depending on what you used in step 1.

Figure 4.19. It seems an awful lot of code for just a few words. Still, it can be very helpful to get immediate information about an abbreviation, at least the first time it is used.


  • Firefox (on both platforms) supports both abbr and acronym, highlighting both elements with a dotted underline and providing the title attribute's contents as a tool tip (Figure 4.20).

    Figure 4.20. Firefox Mac/Win highlights abbreviations and acronyms with a dotted underline and when your visitors hover, the contents of the element's title attribute are shown in a tool tip.

  • Internet Explorer for Windows (up to version 7) doesn't change the display of acronym or abbr elements, but does show titles as tool tips. IE 6 and earlier didn't support abbr.

Figure 4.21. Explorer displays the title of abbreviations as a tool tip, but doesn't display the abbreviation itself any differently.

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JavaScript EditorBest javascript editor debugger     Ajax website