WYSIWYG implies a user interface which allows the user to view something very similar to the end result while the document is being created. Actually WYSIWYG implies the ability to directly manipulate the layout of a document without having to type or remember names of layout commands. The actual meaning depends on the user’s perspective, for example:
- In presentation programs, or compound documents, and web pages, WYSIWYG means the display precisely represents the appearance of the page displayed to the end-user. It does not necessarily reflect how the page will be printed unless the printer is specifically matched to the editing program. It was with the Xerox Star and early versions of the Apple Macintosh.
- In word processing and desktop publishing applications, WYSIWYG means that the display simulates the appearance and represents the effect of fonts and line breaks on the final pagination. It uses a specific printer configuration, so that, for example, a citation on page 1 of a 500-page document may accurately refer to a reference three hundred pages later.
- WYSIWYG also describes ways to manipulate 3D models in stereo-chemistry, as well as computer-aided design, and 3D computer graphics.
Modern software does good at optimizing the screen display for a particular type of output. For example, a word processor is optimized for output to a typical printer. The software sometimes emulates the resolution of the printer in order to get as close as possible to WYSIWYG. Anyway, that is not the main attraction of WYSIWYG. It is the ability of the user to be able to visualize what they are producing.
In many situations, the subtle differences between what the user sees and what the user gets are actually unimportant. But in fact, applications may offer multiple WYSIWYG modes with different levels of “realism”, including
- A composition mode. Here the user can see something somewhat similar to the end result. But with additional information useful while composing, like section breaks and non-printing characters, and uses a layout that is more conducive to composing than to layout.
- A layout mode. Here the user can see something very similar to the end result, but with some additional information useful in ensuring that elements are properly aligned and spaced, like margin lines.
- A preview mode, here the application attempts to present a representation that is as close to the final result as possible.
Here are some plugins you may be interested in.)