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The HTML <abbr> element (or HTML Abbreviation Element) represents an abbreviation and optionally provides a full description for it. If present, the title attribute must contain this full description and nothing else.

<p>I do <abbr title="Hypertext Markup Language">HTML</abbr></p>

See more in depth examples in the How to mark abbreviations and make them understandable article.

DOM Interface HTMLElement
Content categories Flow content, phrasing content, palpable content
Permitted content Phrasing content
Permitted parent elements Any element that accepts phrasing content


This element only includes the global attributes.

Use the title attribute to define the full description of the abbreviation. Many user agents present this as a tooltip.

Note: In languages with grammatical number (especially languages with more than two numbers, like Arabic), use the same grammatical number in your title attribute as inside your <abbr> element.


Specification Status Comment
WHATWG HTML Living Standard
The definition of '<abbr>' in that specification.
Living Standard  
The definition of '<abbr>' in that specification.
HTML 4.01 Specification
The definition of '<abbr>' in that specification.

Browser compatibility

Feature Chrome Firefox (Gecko) Internet Explorer Opera Safari
Basic support 2.0 1.0 (1.7 or earlier) [1] 7.0 1.3 (Yes)
Feature Android Firefox Mobile (Gecko) IE Mobile Opera Mobile Safari Mobile
Basic support (Yes) (Yes) (Yes) (Yes) (Yes)

[1] Up to Gecko 1.9.2 (Firefox 3.6), Firefox implemented the HTMLSpanElement interface for this element instead of the HTMLElement interface.

Default styling

The purpose of this element is purely for the convenience of the author and all browsers display it inline (display: inline) by default, though its default styling varies from one browser to another:

  • Some browsers, like Internet Explorer, do not style it differently than a <span> element.
  • Opera, Firefox, and some others add a dotted underline to the content of the element.
  • A few browsers not only add a dotted underline, but also put it in small caps; to avoid this styling, adding something like font-variant: none in the CSS takes care of this case.

See also