Techniques for WCAG 2.0

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H28: Providing definitions for abbreviations by using the abbr and acronym elements



This technique relates to:

User Agent and Assistive Technology Support Notes


The objective of this technique is to provide expansions or definitions for abbreviations by using the abbr and acronym elements.

It is always appropriate to use the abbr element for any abbreviation, including acronyms and initialisms. When using HTML and XHTML, initialisms and acronyms may be marked up using the acronym element. Versions of HTML after HTML 4 eliminate the acronym element in favor of the more general abbr element.


Example 1: Using abbr element to expand abbreviations.

Example Code:

<p>Sugar is commonly sold in 5 <abbr title="pound">lb.<abbr> bags.</p>
<p>Welcome to the <abbr title="World Wide Web">WWW</abbr>!</p>              

Example 2: Using abbr element to define abbreviations.

Example Code:

<p>Tasini <abbr title="and others">et al.</abbr> <abbr title="versus">v.</abbr>
The New York Times <abbr title="and others">et al.</abbr> is the landmark lawsuit 
brought by members of the National Writers Union against ......</p>  

Example 3: Using the acronym element to expand an acronym

Example Code:

 <p>The use of <acronym title="Keep It Simple Stupid">KISS</acronym> became popular in ...</p>        

Example 4: Using the acronym element to expand an initialism

Example Code:

 <p><acronym title="World Wide Web">WWW</acronym></p>


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  1. Check that an expansion or definition is provided for each abbreviation via abbr or acronym.

Expected Results

If this is a sufficient technique for a success criterion, failing this test procedure does not necessarily mean that the success criterion has not been satisfied in some other way, only that this technique has not been successfully implemented and can not be used to claim conformance.

Techniques are Informative

Techniques are informative—that means they are not required. The basis for determining conformance to WCAG 2.0 is the success criteria from the WCAG 2.0 standard—not the techniques. For important information about techniques, please see the Understanding Techniques for WCAG Success Criteria section of Understanding WCAG 2.0.