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

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 hackers and computer programers)

WYSIAWYG - What You See Is Almost What You Get (most text editing programs)

WYSIMOLWYG - What You See Is More Or Less What You Get (another way of stating WYSIAWYG)


  • a description of an 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
  • users expect WYSIWYG

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