Links Concept

Descriptive Hyperlinks

Hyperlinks that include link text that identifies the purpose or destination of the link can provide important clues that help website visitors choose which links to follow. Using appropriate link text helps website visitors scan for relevant information, identify outside resources, and choose which links are the most relevant for their needs. 

Guidelines for hyperlink text:

  • Identify the purpose or function of the hyperlink as part of the hyperlink name.
  • Be as descriptive as possible without being overly long – a screen reader user will have to listen to the whole link before moving to the next link on the list.
  • Integrate the link into your sentence – sighted users will see the link, and screen readers will hear the link.

Ask yourself when writing a link text, “Will the reader know where they are going just by the link text alone?” 

Inappropriate Link Text

For example:

  1. Click here to read the article.
  2. Read our academic integrity policy read link More Info 
  3. Read Article 1 link (Read More) and Article 2 link (Read More)
  4. Learn more about color and accessibility here and here.

Appropriate Link Text

  1. Read about debunking the myth of voter fraud.
  2. Be sure to read our Academic Integrity Policy.
  3. Read the following: Article 1: The Fall of Man and Article 2: The Rise of Man.
  4. Learn more about color accessibility in terms of contrast and color-coding.

Ambiguous Link Text

Ambiguous link text can be problematic as it does not communicate the purpose or function of the link. Using link text on a web page such as “Click here” or providing the full hyperlink URL does not provide sufficient information as to the purpose or destination of the link.

Some assistive technologies, such as screen readers for blind and visually-impaired individuals, have the capability to scan and present a list of all the hyperlinks on a web page thus allowing that person to quickly jump to the relevant link instead of being forced to listen to the entire page line-by-line.

JAWS Links List window highlighting a non-descriptive link.

This “Links List” functionality can be helpful for someone using such assistive technology, but only if the link text is descriptive. While a sighted person may be able to understand the purpose of the link text “Click here” or “Read more” based on its location and positioning relative to other content on the page, this information is not available for someone who is blind or visually impaired. 

Creating link text that communicates the purpose and/or function of the hyperlink can provide clarity as to the role of that link for all web page visitors.