This resource is an archived version of the Readability Guidelines.

New wiki is at:
Go to the Links page.


1. Link text should be meaningful, not "click here" or "more information".

2. Call to action links should start with a verb.

3. Avoid mid-sentence links as they can be distracting. They may slow down users who scan as they need to stop and read text surrounding the embedded link. They can cause readability challenges for autistic users.

4. 'Front-load' your link text, by putting the most relevant content at the beginning of the link.

5. Make links active and specific.

"Buy pink grapefruits" not "Grapefruits for sale, pink ones only."

Usability evidence

Spyridakis recommends meaningful hyperlinks:
"If readers choose to follow a link, they should have an accurate idea concerning where they are going."
"Embedded links should be concrete enough that readers can grasp their meaning without having to read surrounding text."

Chadwick-Dias, McNulty and Tullis found that users, especially older ones, hesitated on links like 'Accounts', but less so with 'Go to accounts'.

Research by Lynch in 1997 cited by Spyradakis cautions links embedded in the middle of a sentence, suggesting these distract and slow down the reader. Placing links at the end of a sentence will least disrupt the syntax. Redish notes that embedded definition links, that open a small window and don’t change the screen, are not disruptive.

'Web Usability and Age: How Design Changes Can Improve Performance', Chadwick-Dias, A., McNulty, M., Tullis, T., Conference on Universal Usability, 2003

'Letting Go of the Words: Writing web content that words' Janice Redish, 2007

Embedded Links and Online Reading Accessibility, Caroline Jarrett and Whitney Quesenbery in discussion, YouTube, 2010.

'Imprudent linking weaves a tangled Web' P.J. Lynch & S. Horton, 1997

'Guidelines for authoring comprehensible web pages and evaluating their success', Jan Spyridakis, 2000, especially pages 368 and 370

'Explicitness of local navigational links: comprehension, perceptions of use, and browsing behavior', Kathryn A. Mobrand, Jan H. Spyridakis, SAGE Journals, 2007

'First 2 Words: A Signal for the Scanning Eye', Nielson Norman Group, 2009

GOV.UK A to Z style guide UK Government website, 2013

'Write effective links' US Government website, 2010

'Tips for writing great links', Gerry McGovern, 2012

GOV.UK content principles: conventions and research background, UK Government website, 2013

Hyperlinks, University of Minnesota, 2016

'Is the Underlined Link Hurting Readability?' Cassandra Naji, 2016

NZ Government Style Guide: Links, NZ Government website, 2016

'Design navigation for clarity and fidelity' Gerry McGovern, 2018

'Fake metrics: Impressions are the new hits', Gerry McGovern, 2018

'Creating usable hyperlinks', Dan does Content, 2018

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