Linking to Other Pages and Sites

Links can be useful to your readers when they provide information from other reliable sources or help them navigate to other pages on your site that may be of interest. Here are some guidelines to help you link more effectively:

  • Too many links can make your page appear cluttered, so they should only be used when they add to your existing content. As a rough rule, simple sentences should never contain no more than two links, while long paragraphs should contain no more than five.
  • A link should only appear once per page, the first time the content is referenced. In subsequent references, there should be no link.
  • Use descriptive text for your links instead of "click here." Linked text has different formatting that users are accustomed to seeing on all pages, so they will know when text is a clickable link. Rather than saying "You must complete the application packet before December 31. Click here to download it," simply say "You must complete the application packet by December 31."
  • Only use pictures as links when it is obvious where they lead. Pictures that link to an enlarged version are logical and probably interesting to a reader.
  • Use relative links to other pages in your department instead of absolute links. A link should never include The editor tool will usually handle these details for you.
  • Links to other campus sites should use instead of
  • If you are linking to an external site or to a PDF, use the "New Window" option so the link opens in a new window. This way, users do not have to navigate away from your page to view the link. This option is available in the link properties in the online editor.
  • Avoid link or "related sites" pages unless they are all sites that you visit regularly. Since external sites will not inform you when they make changes, you could end up linking to pages that no longer exist, or whose information you no longer want to publicize. A good rule is to only provide links to pages your users will need, rather than those you think they may be interested in. If a simple search will bring a user to another resource, chances are they have already located it.
  • Online editing tools will not allow the use of shortened links (,, tinyurl, etc) in online content. These shortened links are designed for use in limited-space environments like Twitter, and have no use on a web page where the link can be specified in its entirety. Those links unnecessarily obscure the destination of the link and are prone to easy typographical mistakes.
Email Links
  • Provide the email address of your department instead of an individual whenever possible. This helps avoid the need to update contact information later and allows the appropriate person to respond to each message. Changing an address that has been available often leads to lost correspondence from visitors. If you need to establish shared mailboxes or aliases, please contact the IT group.
  • If you feel you must provide a personal email address, use the format instead of The online editor will attempt to make this correction for you.
  • Your departmental contact information is provided at the bottom of every page, so this information should not usually be included on your pages.
Accessibility Information

The text of your links is very important to visitors with visual impairments. Screen readers allow visitors to jump directly to links and reads the text to them, so it is important that the link text is descriptive as described above.

The amount of text in your link can also be important to visitors with fine-motor impairments. A descriptive link is longer and provides a larger clickable area.

Last Updated: October 31, 2012