Creating Effective Links

A document becomes hypertext when you toss in a few links in the same way that water becomes soup when you throw in a few vegetables. Technically, you’ve met the goal, but the outcome may not be very palatable.

Inserting anchors into your documents is something of an art, requiring good writing skills, HTML/XHTML prowess, and an architectural sense of your documents and their relationships to others on the Web. Effective links flow seamlessly into a document, quietly supplying additional browsing opportunities to the reader without disturbing the current document. Poorly designed links scream out, interrupt the flow of the source document, and generally annoy the reader.

While there are as many linking styles as there are authors, here are a few of the more popular ways to link your documents. All do two things: they give the reader quick access to related information, and they tell the reader how the link is related to the current contents.

Lists of Links

Perhaps the most common way to present hyperlinks is in ordered or unordered lists in the style of a table of contents or list of resources.

Two schools of style exist. One puts the entire list item into the source anchor; the other abbreviates the item and puts a shorthand phrase in the source anchor. In the former, make sure you keep the anchor content short and sweet; in the latter, use a direct writing style that makes it easy to embed the link.

If your list of links becomes overly long, consider organizing ...

Get HTML & XHTML: The Definitive Guide, 5th Edition now with O’Reilly online learning.

O’Reilly members experience live online training, plus books, videos, and digital content from 200+ publishers.