Abbr vs. AcronymWednesday, July 9, 2003
Since I began learning accessibility, usability, and semantic web design, one rule I learned early on: regardless of whether it’s appropriate, always use
<acronym> instead of
<abbr>, because IE does not support
Reading Ian Lloyd’s tutorial on the use of these tags made me realize this is the wrong approach. I always thought that since I was using one of these tags, that was good enough. What I’m really doing is confusing those who do not use visual browsers. I’m telling a screen-reader to pronounce things that may be unpronouncable. This is worse than not completely correct — it’s flat out wrong.
What to do? Ian makes a variety of suggestions, some of which I think over-complicate the whole thing. For example, he suggests using classes to differentiate between abbreviations that should be spoken (but are not technically acronyms) and those that should be spelled-out. If you are that uptight about the whole thing, more power to you. The other person on the planet who feels that way will look at your code and smile. For the rest of us,
<acronym> will be sufficient for usability, accessibility, and semantic purposes.
But, there’s still the problem of IE. IE still does not support the
I’ve decided to take the MOSe approach that some are advocating. From now on, I will use