Link text

When you're writing link text, use a phrase that describes what the reader will see after following the link. Links should make sense without the surrounding text. That can take either of two forms:

  • The exact title of the linked-to page, capitalized the same way the title is capitalized.
  • A description of the linked-to page, capitalized like ordinary text instead of like a title.

Sometimes you have to rework a sentence to include a phrase that makes good link text.

For more suggestions about best practices for link text, see the article at Webcredible on writing effective link text (but ignore the "no more than four words" rule), and Jed Hartman's blog post on link text.

A couple of things to keep in mind about link text:

  • Don't use the phrase "click here" or "this document." It's bad for accessibility and bad for scannability.
  • Don't use a URL as link text. Instead, use the page title or a description of the page.
  • Use an external link icon to indicate that the link opens in a new window or tab. For more information, see External link icons.

    Recommended: For more information, see Make link text meaningful.

  • If a link downloads a file, the link text needs to indicate this action as well as the file type.

Examples

Not recommended: Want more? <a href="/wombats">Click here!</a>.

Also not recommended: Want more? Read <a href="/wombats">this document</a>.

Recommended: For more information, see <a href="/wombats">Care and feeding of your wombat</a>.

And:

Not recommended: See the HTTP/1.1 RFC at <a href="http://www.w3.org/Protocols/rfc2616/rfc2616.html">http://www.w3.org/Protocols/rfc2616/rfc2616.html</a>.

Recommended: See the <a href="http://www.w3.org/Protocols/rfc2616/rfc2616.html">HTTP/1.1 RFC</a>.

And:

Not recommended: See <a href="http://www.python.org/doc/">http://www.python.org/doc/</a>.

Recommended: See the <a href="http://www.python.org/doc/">Python documentation</a>.

Exception: In some legal documents (such as some Terms of Service documents), it's okay to use URLs as link text.

For more about link text, see Cross-references.