The Web Quality Assurance Checklist

Picto thématique

Best practice n° 5 - The first occurrence of an abbreviation or an acronym in the body of any page gives access to an explanation of its meaning.

#Content #Editorial #Accessibility


  • Allow users to quickly understand the meaning of an acronym.
  • Enable bots to exploit the content (in order to establish an index of abbreviations).
  • Foster referencing of the content.
  • Improve the accessibility of content for people with disabilities.


At least when an initialism, acronym or abbreviation appears on the page for the first time, make sure to use at least one of the methods below:

  • Explain its meaning within the text, for example: “A DTD (document type declaration)”.
  • Provide a link giving access to its meaning in a glossary page or via a dynamic display (JavaScript tooltip).
  • Tag with the HTML element abbr and fill in the title attribute to indicate its meaning.

The best practice only requires this for the first occurrence in the page: it is optional for subsequent ones.


On each page inspected, visually identify each initialism, abbreviation or acronym present on the page, then for its first occurrence on the page, check that there is at least:

  • its meaning immediately given in context, for example in parentheses. '
  • a link on the acronym giving access to its meaning, for example in a glossary.
  • or the abbr element with a title attribute explaining its meaning.