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17 May, 2004

Acrimonious -nyms


It might seem I've been ranting about IE recently, but I've just found that it inadequately supports an important HTML tag I've used here rather frequently; some of my postings presumably seem even more confusing than the way they left my head.

The <acronym> tag provides definitions of quoted terms (not only acronyms and abbreviations). For example, if you hold the mouse cursor over the letters 'IE' in the preceding paragraph, after a moment you should see the words 'Internet Explorer' pop up as a tooltip next to the cursor. I also use it to provide translations of non-English terms. Great, eh? Really useful, except for one thing: how would one know to hover over the acronym for it to be spelled out in full? In Firefox, items in an <acronym> tag are indicated clearly with a dotted underline, so they stand out from both plain text (non-underlined) and hyperlinks (solid underlined). In IE, nothing; the visitor is offered no indication.

I've inserted an ugly CSS quick-fix: all <acronym>s, like 'CSS' in this sentence, now appear with a dark green background (except for the example above; I rigged that specially). It's not ideal, as visitors still mightn't realise why the text has a background, but it might be enough to tempt people to try hovering over text and give them a helpful surprise.
This applies retrospectively, of course, so you might like to re-read anything you didn't understand earlier. If the confusing terms don't have a green background and tooltip on hover, my writing is at fault rather than the coding or browser. Sorry.

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