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What Is a Hyperlink?

Hyperlinks are embedded references in a document that refer (and often lead) to other information. For example, web pages often have highlighted word or phrase; when the user clicks on it, the browser automatically opens another page related to it.

Hyperlinks usually make a logical connection between two texts, and allow users to jump from one to another to gain a deeper (or wider) appreciation of a topic. They are very useful in research, and are also used by web marketing managers to encourage readers to visit partner websites. Hyperlinks also allow readers to find information with a single click, avoiding the hassle of having to wade through a page or type a web address.

Links are widely used for reference within a hypertext document in order to help the end user find the reference easily without scrolling down the page or typing a URL (web address) into the location bar directly.

It is appropriate to use descriptive key words to alert the reader on what kind of content the hyperlink will lead to, though poorly designed websites (or malicious web marketing) can use deceptive links to barrage, confuse, or mislead the reader with unwanted information.

Hyperlinks are composed of an “anchor” (the source of the link) and the target (where the link leads you). There are also bi- or two-dimensional hyperlinks, where two websites or pages can cross-reference each other.

There are many types of links. Embedded links allow users to go to a different page; inline links pop-up the information but in a fast-view form (low resolution, thumbnail images, excerpts of the text). The users can then click on the link if they are interested in knowing more.

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