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.”
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 Microsoft Word.”
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.
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 pilot.wright.edu, 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.
How to Make a Link in Word
- 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.
- Highlight the text you want to make into a link.
- There are three ways to bring up the “Insert Hyperlink” box where you can add the link’s URL:
- Click the “Hyperlink” icon on the “Insert” ribbon.
- Right click (control click for Macs) the selected text and choose “Hyperlink.”
- Or use the keyboard shortcut, “Ctrl K” on a PC or “Command K” on a Mac.
- On the small “Insert Hyperlink” window that pops up, put the link’s destination URL in the “Address” box and click “OK.”
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.
Also on the “Insert Hyperlink” window, you can click on the “This Document” tab to create a link to any heading or bookmark you have in the file.
These directions are for Office 2016. Other versions of Microsoft Office may work slightly differently.
Video: Create meaningful hyperlinks that people understand
The following Microsoft Video shows how to make meaningful links in Word.