2

The question Why is the mouse cursor slightly tilted and not straight? brought up this related question.

Why is the hand symbol used instead of any other symbol, say a spade, for the purpose of a hand pointer?

Then question mark pointer

http://htmlref.com/images/CSS_curs_help.gif

for the what-is/help functionality is logically understandable. But why the hand?

3

The hand cursor made one of its earliest appearances in Hypercard stacks. Hypercard allowed hyperlinking between various pages within a document and this is where the use of the mouse cursor started. Like a lot of things, it perhaps it got picked up and got carried along.

With regards to its use in web design, perhaps the reason the hand icon was suggested was to differentiate links from textual content. Initially hyperlinks in websites started in blocks of text and as such it wasn't obvious that you could click on them to open another page and the affordance of the hand pointer indicated the difference.

  • In some ways HyperCard was the for-runner of websites. I presume this is why the protocol is called 'HTTP' Hypertext transfer protocol. – PhillipW Sep 25 '18 at 20:05
2

MSDN states that the hand pointer is called the Link select and it is used for text and graphic links because of their weak affordance.

msdn pointers

  • 2
    Is the affordance that an outstretched finger affords pushing on something (like a link)? – Jessica Yang Feb 20 '14 at 3:49

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