What is WYSIWYG?


If you’ve ever thought, what is WYSIWYG? This is for you! Though this term has been around for a long time. WYSIWYG dates back about 50 years, to the early days of computing, and long before the internet. However, the oft-reported origins are not entirely accurate. Read on for the real history of WYSIWYG, what it is, and why you should care about it.

How to Say WYSIWYG

First, let’s talk about how to pronounce it. It’s actually very fun to say. It sounds like a fun children’s game, or a silly toy you’d win at a summer fair. WYSIWYG is pronounced “whizzy-wig.” Once you know, you know!

What is WYSIWYG?

Now, what is WYSIWYG anyway? It’s an acronym, standing for What You See Is What You Get. The concept of WYSIWYG is to eliminate the need to read or write computer code. It’s a markup language that allows anyone to create things using software, and there is no barrier between what they are doing and what they are seeing. For example, in creating a document, selecting words and marking them to be bold makes them in a bold typeface. Or in creating a digital form, you can drag and and drop fields to make them appear in the order that you want them to. What you see on the screen is what you get!

What are its advantages?

There are many advantages to WYSIWYG. It’s easy to use and visually appealing. After all, it’s not just our eyes which allows us to see. WYSIWYG allows us to create a form or document and see exactly how it will look in the end result. Without the interface of WYSIWYG, using computer software would be like staring at the Matrix!

Another advantage of WYSIWYG is that it is easy to update and share. If you decide you want to add a different introduction to an employee application form, simply change the text you see on the screen, or upload a different header photo. As soon as you save, anyone seeing the form will see exactly what you see.

The Real History of WYSIWYG

We know the origins of WYSIWYG date back to the early days of modern computing, in the 1970s. Before Microsoft, companies like Xerox were developing word processing software. They were interested in creating a product that would allow anyone to use a computer. Up until then, computers were pretty much only used by computer programmers, because coding language was required to communicate with it. Xerox launched the Alto, a computer designed for use in schools and large corporations. With a $32,000 price tag in 1972, this computer was not in the budget for students, teachers, or small business owners! It had a graphic interface and a word processing software called Bravo. And this is where the WYSIWYG term first appears. Chuck Thacker wrote the coding for Bravo. Showing his wife what it could do, she asked him “you mean, what I see is what I get?” And right then. Karen Thacker, who was a technophobe and uncomfortable with new technology, felt comfortable with this software because what she saw was what she got.

What does WYSIWYG mean for you?

If you are know zero computer code or don’t feel comfortable with new technology, look out for WYSIWYG when selecting software. This means it will be easier for you to use, and have a short learning curve. Choosing software which is WYSIWYG also means that you are less likely to make any mistakes. For example, if you are building a customer survey and realize you forgot to include a question, you can add it and just drag and drop the field up to where you want it to be. To start using our WYSIWYG digital form builder, try our free forever plan!