Checkpoint 4.2 of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0 requires that content developers specify an expansion of each abbreviation or acronym in a document where it first occurs. In the HTML techniques, they suggest that abbr and acronym are used along with the title attribute to indicate the expansion.

This Firefox extension provides a glossary of terms based on the abbreviations and acronyms in a document.

Author: Gez Lemon

I've written a Firefox extension (they're addictive) to produce a glossary of terms, based on any abbreviations and acronyms defined in the markup. It's ideal for people who may not be familiar with the jargon used in a document, but obviously requires that the content author has marked up abbreviations and acronyms with abbr and acronym respectively. The glossary of terms is toggled on and off, and displayed at the end of the document so that they can be printed along with the document. To illustrate the extension, I've included a list of abbreviations and acronyms on this page for testing.

Category: Mozilla/Firefox Extensions.


  1. [glossary-terms-extension.php#comment1]

    nice one again. yes, extension writing can be addictive (i've just finished my fourth one last night, quite complicated with dialogs, asynchronous xmlhttp requests etc).

    the next step is to learn how to do dialog windows, and rather than having the extension do what is essentially a DOM manipulation on the current page, having it bring up a nice XUL popup with the list *smile*

    Posted by Patrick H. Lauke on

  2. [glossary-terms-extension.php#comment2]

    Thanks, Patrick. For this particular extension, it wouldn't make sense to produce the result in a window of its own, as the benefit is that the terms are associated with the source document so they could be printed. For an evaluation type extension, then it would make sense to have it open in its own window.

    Posted by Gez on

  3. [glossary-terms-extension.php#comment4]

    Thank you, Mathias *smile* Sorry, I missed this comment yesterday. I originally decided to make it a Firefox extension, as Internet Explorer won't contain any abbreviations in its DOM, just acronyms. It would be a good idea to make it a bookmarklet though, for browsers like Safari and Opera. If I get some free time, I'll turn it into a bookmarklet.

    Posted by Gez on

  4. [glossary-terms-extension.php#comment5]

    Very interesting extension !
    I thing it would be of greater use, including MSIE users, if the java thing could harvest the title attribute alone when there is.

    See link on my nickname to my page : text with "tooltips" on words that readers would appreciate to have in a "glossary" list just like for the abbr tag.

    Sorry for my english, I am French, nobody is perfect.

    Posted by Goofy on

  5. [glossary-terms-extension.php#comment6]

    ...just realizing that having a firefox extension modified for msie users is just silly. Shame on me.
    However having "title" attributes (or are they "tags" ? I am such a newbie...) in a list would be interesting for me. But maybe nobody else ?

    Posted by Goofy again on

  6. [glossary-terms-extension.php#comment7]

    Hi Goofy,

    Thank you for your comment. Your English is fine *smile*

    One of the problems with gathering title attributes is that they may not necessarily (most often do not) provide a definition for a term. They tend to most be used on links, where it may not make sense when presented as a definition for the link phrase. Also, they're over-used by spammers, trying to fool search engines with extra keywords.

    P.S. I moved your email address into the email field. Your email address won't be revealed to anyone, but it allows them to contact you using a form (as they could have done by decrypting what you put on the page). It's also safe from email harvesters.

    Posted by Gez on

  7. [glossary-terms-extension.php#comment8]

    Hello Gez,

    I really like the idea of "Glossary of terms". I had an idea for an similar extension myself, but I am not able to write it (no programmer). I had the vision of an FF-Extension using a database for showing the sens of abbr and acronym - the database should be filled by the internet-community with short explanations, similsr to wikipedia...

    If u do not have enough to do already, maybe u will think about it. *wink*

    Posted by Marc Haunschild on

  8. [glossary-terms-extension.php#comment10]

    Great work!

    Have you ever thought about an update of this very useful extension (I am currently using it to automate a glossary index for a content management system...)?

    Until now everything worked fine - but I just gave the ff 1.5 Beta a try...
    Probably only the version info has to be updated?

    Posted by schilke on

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