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A widely recognized cue that text is clickable is to underline it, set it in a different color, and change the cursor to a hand symbol when hovering over it.

I have a situation where a column in a report may contain a tool tip -- hover-text that appears when the cursor is placed over it. I'm trying to come up with an obvious cue to the user for this. When I use a cue similar to a hyperlink, users instinctively click on it and wonder why nothing happens.

Can you refer me to any real-world examples of an effective cue? Or, what cue have you successfully used in the past to accomplish this?

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You might get better answers for this on ux.stackexchange.com –  Dan Neely Jul 22 '13 at 20:38
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@DanNeely: More likely, it would be closed as a duplicate of How to mark a tooltip-containing word in a paragraph? –  Brian Jul 22 '13 at 21:07
    
@Brian Make that good answers already exist on.... –  Dan Neely Jul 22 '13 at 21:16

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up vote 2 down vote accepted

In some web environments, a dashed underline indicates that text is "hoverable". Typically, this pops up a tooltip-like modeless window with an advertisement, and so users avoid them, but in some "safe" sites, the tooltip is a word definition or footnote.

It sounds like you're rendering tabular data in a dynamic report view (you mentioned a "column"). You might consider a superscript element that your users will come to understand is hoverable. You could make it graphical, rendering a superscript "help icon" or a red triangle (used in Microsoft Excel, familiar to most, to indicate hoverable comments).

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You are right that it's a column for a report, and that space is limited. I was contemplating a subscript. Problem is, there are too many permutations for the text. –  Bob Kaufman Jul 22 '13 at 20:32

The few that I am aware of are using the help cursor (the one with the question mark) when hovering over the element.

cursor: help;

And putting a '?' or some kind of 'help' icon next to the item that then pops out the tool tip.

Additionally you can decide on a convention to use across your application.

E.g. everything that is in Bold and Orange has a tooltip

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The OP is asking if there is an already existing standard or convention, not to try to make one up. –  whatsisname Jul 22 '13 at 20:17
    
Clarified a bit more on the conventions –  Vadim Jul 22 '13 at 20:21
    
I have added the help cursor, however I consider that merely cosmetic, as it will not cue the user that more information is available by moving the cursor there. I think I've seen @KiethS's idea at some news sites and am liking how that looks on the page in terms of "move your cursor here but don't expect a hyperlink" –  Bob Kaufman Jul 22 '13 at 20:35
    
By the time the mouse cursor has changed into a question mark, that's typically when the tooltip would show up (since the OP specified tooltip on hover) so this does not help the user knowing ahead of time that there is a tooltip available. –  Louis Oct 17 at 14:02

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