I am at a bit of a loss as to what cursor I should be using for tooltips that have no click through behaviour. I have a hover only tooltip are I currently use the CSS cursor:

cursor: pointer

However I am also using this cursor for buttons and links (things with a click behaviour) and the tooltip elements have no click functionality at all.

I was thinking of using:

cursor: help

Here is a list of available cursors in browsers: https://developer.mozilla.org/en/docs/Web/CSS/cursor

Is help confusing, or should I just stick to the pointer?

1 Answer 1


The cursor should change depending on the interaction the user can do with the element, not on the tooltip. A tooltip appears to explain what the element is or what it does.

For example when we hover over a link the pointer cursor reinforces that clicking the link with do some action. This link might also have a tooltip, but the cursor depends on the click action.

So the cursor tells the user how can (or can't) he utilize the element (click to perform some action, click drag to move element, click drag to select text, etc). In your case if the element is not going to respond to any action when clicked, dragged, etc. then don't use a cursor different than the default.

  • Where do you get such recommandations? An element with a "wait" or a "no-drop" cursor state "is not going to respond to any action when clicked, dragged, etc." and yet it's still a different cursor. Commented Jan 2, 2017 at 14:46
  • I believe a cursor tells what the user can/can't do, so i guess a wait cursor tells the user he can wait.
    – Alvaro
    Commented Jan 2, 2017 at 14:50
  • I sympathize, yet I still think those semantics need to be referenced. Showing a help cursor on the OP's situation seems fine by me but that's only my opinion. Commented Jan 2, 2017 at 14:52
  • If clicking the element would display help in some way then it is probably better to use a help cursor, but as soon as the cursor hovers the help is displayed so there is no interaction possible, that is my way of viewing the case described.
    – Alvaro
    Commented Jan 2, 2017 at 14:56
  • 1
    I agree with @Alvaro, but in this case, the use of the help cursor is not completely unmotivated. I saw a good reason to not use it here: ux.stackexchange.com/questions/63256/… , "it should not be used on links of any kind, even if the link is to a help page". Commented Jan 2, 2017 at 18:19

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