Last updated: June 14, 2017
Have you ever landed on a page and started reading the article only to discover every paragraph is filled with abbreviations and acronyms that have no meaning for you?
Do you struggle through the article, trying to figure out from the context what the abbreviation/acronym means?
Or do you leave the page?
What’s The Problem?
Using abbreviations and acronyms on your page, with no explanations of what they mean, are like a puzzle to your readers.
They don’t understand what the abbreviation/acronym stand for unless you provide it.
Don’t assume your readers already know what the abbreviation/acronym means because you included the explanation on another page on your site.
The reader may have landed on your page from a link on another site, or an entirely different page on your site.
Include Explanations for Abbreviations and Acronyms
The first time you use an abbreviation or acronym on a page, explain what it means. You don’t have to include the explanation for additional instances of that abbreviation/acronym.
Here’s an example:
The Children’s Center is licensed by the State of Michigan Department of Human Services (DHS) and accredited by the National Academy of Early Childhood Programs (NAEYC).
In the past, the
title attribute on the
abbr element was used to provide the abbreviation explanation on desktop browsers. Readers would hover over the abbreviation with their mouse to expose the explanation as a tooltip.
However, relying on the
title attribute for
abbr is currently discouraged, due to lack of support for exposing the attribute across many devices, including phones, tablets, and keyboard-only users.
Don’t leave your readers puzzling over what an abbreviation or acronym means.
Share the explanation with them early on so they can focus on your content, without wondering what that group of four letters means.