The acronym WYSIWYG (pronounced “wiz-ee-wig”) stands for “What you see is what you get.” WYSIWYG refers to a software program or editor used for processes including desktop publishing, web building, word processing and 3-D design. This allows the developer of the program to see how the final result – texts and images – will appear to the end user while it is still in the process of being created.
No coding or intermediate steps are required to be able to see how changes will appear on the web page or document, saving time and effort. This also makes it possible for people with little to no HTML and coding experience to edit the appearance of digital pages.
WordPress, for example, is a common CMS used by non-web developers to post new web and blog pages with ease. The WYSIWYG text editor in WordPress allows users to bold text, add subheads, place bullets, change text size and more – all without getting into the nitty-gritty of HTML.
The first WYSIWYG technology was used by a program called Bravo in 1974. These early, traditional editors required developers to enter descriptive codes and could not show the immediate results.
Now, WYSIWYG applications have advanced to become more flexible according to the type of project and user interface involved. Different levels of realism in how the final product is displayed apply to different applications.
- Composition Mode: The view of the end result is similar to the final product, showing added information such as non-printing characters and section breaks that will not appear in the final product.
- Layout Mode: Again, the user will see an approximation of the end result, but with information that helps in layout, such as margin lines, which ensure that elements are corrected spaced and aligned.
- Preview Mode: This mode will display the closest approximation of the final result.