Writing Good Link Text

Despite my difficulties in navigating the W3C QA site (see previous post) it was interesting to read their article about good writing conventions for links.

While I completely agree with their recommendation not to use "click here" for link text, I am unclear as to why they recommend not putting verb phrases in link text.

Here's the example they use:

My preference is to write something more like their 'bad' example; either:

"Tell me more about Amaya", or "Tell me more about Amaya".

In fact, in this instance, I would probably rewrite the sentence to say

"Learn more about Amaya".

To me, including a verb in a link:

  1. makes the link easier to see and click as it's not just a single word
  2. gives the link more context - if I'm skim-reading the page, I can easily see that by clicking this link I will be able to learn more about Amaya.

Rachael McAlpine makes this point well in an article about writing for skim-readers:

Write meaningful link-text.

Some people scan a page by reading only the link-text. You know, that's usually blue and underlined. Make sure it makes sense alone.

Interestingly, I could find no specific examples in their suggested further reading or elsewhere to back up the W3C's assertion about not including verb phrases in link text.

Until I see a good reason to change, I think I'll just keep including verbs in my links. Hence, "download nnn" rather than "download nnn".

Posted on: August 3, 2004 | No comments

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