What Are Descriptive Links?
What follows is an example of a descriptive link, as well as two less descriptive ways text is often hyperlinked. The link used for all three examples is the home page of the Dallas College website.
Descriptive links are best practice for online and digital text because they provide a clear, concise description of the page they will load.
Why Add Descriptive Links?
Give the reader a sense of context. You can tell right away what the link is, and what clicking it will do.
Make it easier to skim the page for content. In a page full of "click here's," you need to read everything to find out which "here" you need to click. Meaningful descriptions make it easy to find the right link, right away.
Meet accessibility requirements. Screen readers allow blind or visually impaired users to read digital text with a speech synthesizer or braille display. Providing descriptive text is critically important for screen reader users, who often navigate websites by going from link to link.
Example: This short
screen reader example demonstrates the difference between the experience of a screen reader encountering a full URL and a descriptive link.
Descriptive Links and Hard Copy Materials
If your materials will be distributed in hard copy as well as digitally, it can be helpful to include the full text of the URL along with the descriptive link.
Example Link Text for Hard Copy Distribution:
Web Accessibility Guidelines (https://www.w3.org/WAI/standards-guidelines/wcag/)
In the above example, note that the full text of the URL is not a clickable hyperlink.
Tip: If the full text of the URL is very long, you can use a URL shortener like
TinyURL to create much shorter links to the same content. If your document has a number of links, it may be helpful to include a short link to the entire document so that readers only need to manually enter one URL.