A hyperlink (or 'link') points to a resource (URL) or to a specific element within a document (URL fragment).

Links are commands followed by humans and machines (a spider or crawler for example).

The web wouldn't be much of a web without links. Let's treat them with the respect they deserve by ensuring we never do anything silly to break them!

Links also form the foundation of certain progressive enhancement patterns (tabs, lightboxes, etc). In such cases JavaScript over-rides, or augments, the default behaviour of the link.

Working Examples

You can take a look at the link in action on our examples site.

Best Practices

Link text must not be "click here".

Link text must adequately communicate the destination.

Links that share the same link text must all go to the same URL.

HREF attribute must always contain a valid URL.

HREF attribute must never be "javascript". Please read the JavaScript HREF anti-pattern for more information and examples.

For links with labels that are not unique to the page (e.g. 'Add to Cart', 'Edit' or 'Delete', see the Ambiguous Label technique.

Link must warn user if it will open in a new window or tab. An icon with alternative text is the recommended approach. Please read the Open New Window anti-pattern for more information and examples.

Interaction Design

This section provides interaction design for keyboard, screen reader and pointing devices.


Link must activate with ENTER key (not SPACEBAR).

Link must not prevent default scrolling behaviour of SPACEBAR and ARROW keys.

Screen Reader

Link must announce with role of "link".

Link must announce state of "current" if the HREF matches the current window URL.

Link must invoke using virtual cursor command (e.g. VO+SPACE in Voiceover).

Link must announce "new window or tab" behaviour.

Developer Guide

There are two types of link that need extra care and attention:

ARIA Reference

  • aria-current: used to indicate that this link represents the current page (aria-current="page").


Should I use offscreen text or aria-label?

If adding context to an ambiguous link, use offscreen text.

If link tag is empty (e.g. if it displays an icon and has no inner text), use aria-label. However, Voiceover on iOS has problems with empty link tags. Thus, for now, we recommend always using offscreen text.

If the link contains an image with embedded text, the image must have alt text.

Further Reading

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