Link Text

Helping users understand the desitnation of links is an important step towards increasing the usability and accessibility of a document.

Guidelines for In-Text Links

These guidelines apply to links embedded within the text of a document or a Web page.

  1. Write links that make sense out of context. Use descriptive link text detailing the destination; not just "click here," or other similar phrases. Link text should be made up of phrases rather than single words, so that users with limited motor control will not have difficulty hitting links.

    Unclear Link Text Examples

    Usable Link Text

    NOTE: Some search engines, such as Google, give higher rankings to sites that use "context-rich" text links.

  2. Maintain the standard that text links are underlined and are a different color value (lighter or darker) than the main text. This provision will help colorblind users find links more easily, and is good usability practice.

  3. If you use an image or image map to create links, make sure the destination is included as an ALT tag. See the Image Maps and Image pages for more details on creating accessible links with images.

For Web Pages

  1. You can insert "Top of Page" links after each section in longer documents to reduce the need to scroll up (which can be difficult for motion impaired users). These links should be formatted differently from other links so users know they are page-internal.

  2. Avoid links opening in a new window unless absolutely necessary. New windows are disorienting users of both screen readers and visual browsers (because the Back button becomes "disabled.") Also be aware that some users of visual browsers disable pop-up windows to avoid advertising.
    Note: If links do open in a new window, include a textual indication (e.g. Penn State Home Page (New Window)) so screen readers are aware of the new window.

  3. If you use JavaScript links, such as those to open pop-up windows, make sure they are coded to be accessible to screen readers. Many JavaScript links are unusable in screen readers.

Links on a Screenreader

Many screen readers including JAWS and VoiceOver give users the option to read just the links on the Webpage as demonstrated in the image below listing links from this page. As the list shows, link text which is meaningful out of context is more usable in a list.

List of links for this page


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