I have a lot of acronyms/abbreviations (mostly medical) that I can't really replace by their full name. Users will eventually learn them but I can't expect them to remember all of them. I may also use the pattern for definitions of medical terms.

Context in which it can happen:

  • an article
  • a label of a form
  • a button with an action behind

Has anyone found a good solution to display the explanation of the acronym?

The only solution that I have now is using the same display as on a web site with the abbr tag with a tool-tip to display the full name.

  • 1
    Could you share a bit more detail about your app? Platform(s), general UI, and how the abbreviations have to do with your given context?
    – Alan
    Jun 3, 2015 at 15:31
  • There are some suggestions in this question: ux.stackexchange.com/questions/79026/…
    – illuminaut
    Jun 3, 2015 at 16:45
  • Thanks for the article. I haven't found it when browsing. My devs reckon that the dotted line is too "web" and are not keen on it. This is for an app on Android and iOS. I disagree in the contexte of an article but if I have an action button, then there is a conflict between the dotted line action and the button action (the devs also say that it's not technically feasible). I would like to find examples on apps that have handled the problem.
    – Seb Solere
    Jun 4, 2015 at 15:28
  • @SebSolere if you're using touch interfaces then you simply cannot have any 'hover' interactions. - The user will need to touch the screen in some way to discover the meaning of the acronym. A dotted underline echoing the web pattern seems a reasonable visual solution to me - it's an accepted pattern. The issue your devs are likely to be having is that the user must be able to view and hide the tooltip by touching the screen. I would suggest toggling the tool tip on and off when the user touches the marked acronym. Mar 31, 2016 at 14:58

1 Answer 1


If the user is going to encounter a lot of these acronyms as they proceed through the app, reading articles, etc, perhaps you want to think about a toggle on the page that shifts the view between "full text" and "abbreviated text". If the user has to tap each acronym or definition to view the full details, then tap again to hide the full details, and there are many of them in the course of a single page, they will quickly get frustrated and fatigued having to open and close the details.

I imagine something like this, roughly:


Page content lorem ipsum ABC...


Page content lorem ipsum AlwaysBeClosing...

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