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If we are refering to advice on how to do something or archive something, a short message like in software when you hover your mouse over an item, is there a difference between a tip and a hint?

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The difference between the two terms is one of directness. A hint is indirect; when you're giving someone a hint you're usually trying to impart the smallest amount of information to lead them to an answer or conclusion. A tip is more direct; while the relative amount of information given is the same, it's usually the bit of missing information the other person needs.

In other words, a tip is an obvious small piece of helpful information. A hint is a not-as-obvious small piece.

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  • Is this a difference between the two English words in general, or in the context of software and user interfaces? – J.R. May 10 '17 at 9:11
  • @J.R. This is in general. – Cantalouping May 10 '17 at 11:04

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