Links in Pilot

When you make a link, make it with meaningful text. Think of a link as a road sign that tells where you’ll go if you follow it.

Why Link Text Matters

With a good link, you can tell at a glance what you’ll get when you click it. That’s helpful for everyone. It’s especially nice for screen reader users. They sometimes listen to a list of links on a page to figure out what’s there and where they want to go next. That only works if links is meaningful, not if they are cryptic URLs or say something vague like “click here.”

Meaningful Links

A link to an organization’s home page, for example, might be the name of the organization, such as “Wright State University.” A good link to an article about Galileo would likely be the title of the article, such as “Galileo’s Big Mistake.” A link to the page you are reading right now might say, “Links in Pilot’s HTML Editor.”

Avoid links that say vague things like “click here” or “go.” Imagine driving down a highway lined with signs that simply say “turn here” and don’t tell you where you’ll end up if you do turn. Make links specific.

Made from a photo by Taber Andrew Bain
Links that just say “click here” are like highway signs that say “turn here.” They don’t tell you where you’re going. (Made from a photo on Flickr by Taber Andrew Bain.)

Likewise, don’t make links by just pasting URLs into your text. That’s like a road sign that shows you GPS coordinates, “39.826416,-83.991958,” when you’re looking for “Wright State University.” When your link text is a URL, a screen reader will read that whole thing. If the URL is full of nonsense, as many are, the listener may have no clue where the link goes.

When It’s OK to Show the URL

If there is a concise URL you want your students to remember, such as, then of course you can spell that out.

Or you may want to provide a visible URL so students who print the page will still be able to go to the sites you reference. In that case, put the URL in a list of references at the end of the document. That way it won’t clutter up the main text.

For the best of both worlds, use a page template that will follow each link’s text with its URL whenever you print the page.

How to Make a Link in the HTML Editor

  1. Type the text you want to make into a link. A link to Wright State’s site might start with “Wright State University,” for example.
  2. Highlight the text you want to make into a link.
  3. Click the “Insert Quicklink” button, which is the third button on the toolbar.
  4. As you’ll see, you can make links to elements within your course, including content items, quizzes, dropbox folders, discussions, and more. To link to a web page outside of Pilot, click “URL.”
  5. The best way to get that URL is to open the page in a browser, then copy the address from the browser’s location bar. That way, you’ll be sure to have the correct “http,” “https,” or whatever it starts with.
  6. Highlight the text that’s already in the URL box and paste the address you want.
  7. Choose the “Target” you want:
    • Whole Window: When someone clicks the link, the page you link to will replace Pilot in the browser window. They’ll have to click the browser’s back button to return to Pilot.
    • Same Frame: (Not Recommended) When someone clicks the link, the page you link to supposedly appears in the space within Pilot where the HTML page was. But the link may not work at all if you are linking to an external site. I have no idea why this is the default.
    • New Window: (Recommended) The page will open in a new tab or new window outside of Pilot. Just close that tab or window to get back to Pilot.
  8. Click “Insert.” After you save or update the page, you can test your link.