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:

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.
  • Don't force links to open in a new tab or window. Let the reader decide how to open links. If you think a link needs to open in a new tab or window, let the reader know that the link is opening differently than expected. For example, if the following link opens in a new tab, the link text should let them know: Accessible content (opens in a new tab).
  • Use an external link icon to indicate that the link goes to a different domain or server. For more information, see Cross references.
  • If a link downloads a file, the link text needs to indicate this action as well as the file type.
  • If you're providing an abbreviation in a parenthetical, include the long form and the abbreviation in the link text. For example, if you are linking to the following product documentation, you link Google Kubernetes Engine (GKE) and not Google Kubernetes Engine (GKE).

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: For more information about protocols, see <a href="http://www.w3.org/Protocols/rfc2616/rfc2616.html" class="external">HTTP/1.1 RFC</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.