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WYSIWYG (pronounced "whizzy-wig") is an acronym for What You See Is What You Get, and is used in computing to refer to the technology that makes sure the image seen on the screen corresponds to what is printed out on paper. Today this is expected for word processors but in other situations, like HTML, this is not the case.

The Apple Macintosh system was originally designed so that the screen resolution and the resolution of the dot-matrix printers sold by Apple were identically 72 dpi[?]; thus, the on-screen output of programs such as MacWrite[?] and MacPaint were identical to the printer output, literally WYSIWYG. With the introduction of laser printers, with resolutions higher than the screen resolution, true WYSIWYG vanished.

Table of contents

Other acronyms In order of increasing obscurity:

  • WYSIWYG - What You See Is What You Get (basic)
  • WYSIAYG - What You See Is All You Get (used by computer programmers who point out that a style of "heading" that refers to a specification of "Helvetica 15 bold" provides more useful information than a style of "Helvetica 15 bold" every time a heading is used)
  • WYSIAWYG - What You See Is Almost What You Get (most text editing programs)
  • WYSIWYM - What You See Is What You Mean (You see what best conveys the message)
  • WYSIMOLWYG - What You See Is More Or Less What You Get (another way of stating WYSIAWYG)
  • WYTYSIWYTYG - What You Think You See Is What You Think You Get (Pronounced Whit-iss-ee-whit-ig) (When a program claims to be WYSIWYG but isn't)


  • a description of a user interface that allows the user to view the end result while the document or graphic character is being created
  • allows the user to concentrate entirely in how the content should appear, although having the trade-off of not have the results being easily fine-tuned
  • also used to describe specifically a web-page creation program in which the user creates the webpage visually, while the program writes the HTML (hypertext markup language) for it
  • most programs, even Microsoft Office, are not WYSIWYG since printing and page formatting are still hidden from view
  • as of 2002, users expect a more-or-less WYSIWYG interactive editing view

historical notes

  • was originally a catchphrase on an old TV program called Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In, (1968-1973)
  • first applied to computers in the 1980s


What You See Is What You Get (still usually abbreviated WYSIWYG) is the name of an album by Chumbawamba. See WYSIWYG (album)[?].

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