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Defining Abbreviations, Acronyms and Definitions in Your Blog

Reading across a load of technical writing, I see AJAX and I suddenly think to myself, “What does that really stand for?”

Luckily, the website or blog administrator knew that there would come a time when I would ask myself that question and anticipated it. In the post they highlighted AJAX so I could hover my mouse over the link and see a pop-up balloon that defines the acronym so I know what it stands for.

In web page content, we have the ability to define acronyms using the abbr and/or acronym HTML/XHTML tags. It looks like this:

<abbr title="HyperText Markup Language">HTML</abbr>
<acronym title="Hypertext PreProcessing">PHP</acronym>

Either one will do the job, though there is a growing trend to use abbr more than acronym since it is more encompassing.

You can add acronyms manually, even if you are using blogs. Just type in the HTML tag example above with the definition of the abbreviation in the title.

You can also use the Accessify Acrobot – Acronym Tag Maker to quickly turn your acronym or abbreviation into an HTML tag to copy and paste into your blog.

Ubernyms Acronym Replacer WordPress Plugin for WordPressIf you are using the full version of WordPress, you can use the Huddled Masses – Ubernyms which will automatically convert common acronyms for you.

Not only will the WordPress Plugin Ubernyms acronym replacer automatically convert acronyms found within every post on your blog, you can add or remove acronyms from the list so ensure you have all your acronyms explored. For instance, I was writing about washing tons of dishes when we returned back from overseas back to our trailer that had been in storage for five years. I used the word “soap”. Well, I didn’t know that the Acronym Replacer would turn my innocent “soap” into SOAP. Yikes.

Acronyms like POP and SOAP are words I use all the time that are NOT acronyms but normal every day words like “pop it into the microwave” and “couldn’t find the soap to wash the dishes.” Instead of being used like nouns in a sentence, they would be automatically capitalized with the acronym link on them. Since I don’t write much about “POP”, which is short for POP3, the Post Office Protocol for email, or “SOAP” which is Simple Object Access Protocol, I didn’t need them.

Working with the old version of the Acronym Replace WordPress Plugin, I could change the acronyms within the plugin itself, which I highlight below. The new Ubernyms comes with an Administration Panel so you can change them from within WordPress’ interface and not mess with code. With the old version, I opened the acronym.php plugin file in a text editor and commented out the phrases that I didn’t need.

//  "POP" => "Short for POP3, the Post Office Protocol for email",
// "SOAP" => "Simple Object Access Protocol",

I also added some that did apply to the acronyms I use in photography, so these would be converted into acronyms when I typed them into my posts:

"ISO" => "International Standards Organization aka Film Speed",
"SLR" => "Single Lens Reflex camera",
"DOF" => "Depth of Field",

You can control the look of the acronym and abbreviation HTML tags, styled from the stylesheet or Ubernyms Administration Panel tab. By default, they typically come with a dotted underline, but you can change the look in your stylesheet such as:

acronym, abbr {cursor: help; border-bottom: blue 1px dotted}

Which would turn the cursor into a “help” symbol and put a blue dotted thin line under the acronym or abbreviation.

If you are using a blog with no access to your WordPress Theme stylesheet, hopefully the Theme designer added a design for acronyms. Test it to see what it looks like on your own Theme.

If you are creative and you don’t mind the impact on your content, you can also experiment with Phoenity’s CSS Element Hover Effect, which causes abbreviations and acronyms to expand to their definition when hovered over. It’s a little gimmicky, but still a cool effect.

Finding Acronyms and Abbreviations

Here is a list of a few resources I found to help me find the definitions of various acronyms and abbreviations. There are many specialized acronym finders aimed at a specific industry like law, web design, and medicine. If you know of a good acronym resource, please post it below.

For more information on acronyms and abbreviations in websites and blogs, see Brainstorms and Raves – Abbreviations, Acronyms, and Shortened Words and Max Design – Styling abbreviations, acronyms and definitions.

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Copyright Lorelle VanFossen, member of the 9Rules Network

Member of the 9Rules Blogging Network


  1. Posted July 13, 2006 at 6:50 am | Permalink

    I love new toys. I’ve been looking for something exactly like this for some time now. Thanks for pointing me right at it.

  2. Posted July 13, 2006 at 7:03 am | Permalink

    I have an idea (in relation to the other post): why not have the definitions for complex words stored as acronyms so that a blog can both be read and understood by 6th graders and college professors alike ?

  3. Posted July 13, 2006 at 7:10 am | Permalink

    It is a pity are not supported in this theme (or at least not in the comments): my comment was supposed to be funny, with the following abbrevations:

    definitions: long sentences to explain words you should know
    complex: from latin ‘folded’ – needs unfolding before it can be processed by certain minds
    acronyms: from greek ‘short name’, meaning ‘short name’
    read: if you can read this, it means you know what ‘read’ means
    understood: never mind

    … never mind

    PS: great post by the way

  4. Posted July 13, 2006 at 7:13 am | Permalink

    I meant ‘it is a pity abbr are not supported’, but apparently, I am having a hard time with html.
    … never mind

  5. Posted July 13, 2006 at 8:45 am | Permalink

    Actually, they are (I just moused-over and the definitions popped up as advertised). Firefox handles abbr just fine. IE, however, does not support that tag at all.

  6. Posted July 13, 2006 at 6:53 pm | Permalink

    It doesn’t? Hmmm. Does acronym work in IE? But not Firefox. Interesting.

  7. Posted July 14, 2006 at 7:25 am | Permalink

    The problem with this is that IE6 doesn’t correctly render the tag at all. Of course, if you use the DomTT javascript and add style rules to your CSS for the span that this plugin adds, you can render it however you like!

    I read that on the Ubernyms configuration screen. That’s how I found out that IE doesn’t handle the abbreviation tag well.

    Both browsers handle the acronym tag just fine, though. IE is just a wee bit behind the times when it comes to rendering some of the newer HTML tags that have increased in popular use.

  8. Jim
    Posted November 20, 2008 at 10:40 pm | Permalink

    How can I change my NAME font and color?

  9. Posted November 20, 2008 at 11:35 pm | Permalink

    @ Jim:

    You will need to be more specific. Do you want to change your blog name, your byline name, text within a blog post, or your name or text within the sidebar? Or maybe your name in your WordPress Theme’s blog comments. Do you want to change it in your WordPress Theme or within a blog post? See Blog Bling: Fun Font Bling for changing fonts within a post.

  10. Jim
    Posted November 21, 2008 at 12:24 pm | Permalink


    When I post my comment (like right now), I want my name (Jim) shows up Red in your blog.

    Best Regards.

  11. Posted November 21, 2008 at 9:22 pm | Permalink

    @ Jim:

    Your name shows up colored red in my blog? Or on yours? If it is red on mine, something is very wrong. 😀

    If it shows up in red on your blog when the comment is published, then you need to dig into the WordPress Theme you are using and change the CSS reference for comment links in the stylesheet. See Finding Your CSS Styles in WordPress for a basic introduction on how to do that.

  12. Posted February 3, 2011 at 1:36 pm | Permalink

    It looks like this one isn’t working anymore, but there is another one, unfortunately needs translated:

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