In the field of IT, a hyperlink is a word, phrase, image, or other on-page element that can be clicked, in order to access a new web page, document or piece of data. Additionally, a hyperlink can also be used to allow users to jump to a specific section within the same web page or document, or within an external one, serving as a navigational tool. Hyperlinks are found on the vast majority of web pages and are often referred to more simply as ‘links’.
Typically, a text hyperlink will appear underlined, in a different colour from the rest of the text on a page. In many cases, the colour of a hyperlink will also change, depending on whether or not it has already previously been clicked. However, these are not always the case and it can depend on the style choices made by the web designer. Hyperlinks can be accessed by clicking on them with a cursor, or by tapping on them on a touch screen device.
Hyperlinks are links contained within computer documents, allowing users to access a different document, a different section of the same document, or external data. These links are most commonly in text form, but hyperlinks can also take the form of images, sections of images, or other on-page elements. Text which contains hyperlinks is referred to as ‘hypertext’ and the applications used for creating these documents are called ‘hypertext systems’.
The origin of hyperlinks can be traced back to the 1960s, with the phrase being coined by Ted Nelson, who saw the potential for using text strings in computer data as a means of navigation and cross-referencing. One of the first hypertext systems to enter mainstream consciousness was Apple HyperCard, released in 1987, which contained an early example of a hyperlink function. Another early example was the Microsoft Help application launched in 1989.
Throughout the early 1990s, the hyperlink concept grew and was increasingly utilised by software developers for help platforms, databases and digital encyclopaedias. Today, the function is most commonly associated with the World Wide Web, which is recognised as being by far the most successful hypertext and hypermedia system.
Users are most likely to encounter hyperlinks on web pages, where they serve as a navigational tool, linking users to different pages on the same website, or to external content. Within digital written content, such as web articles and blog posts, hyperlinks are often used as a means of referencing external sources of information. This serves to make a piece of text more credible and reliable to users, by backing up any facts and statistics cited.
However, hyperlinks are also used in a variety of other situations, including in word processors, spreadsheets, databases, slide show programs and other similar software applications. For example, the hyperlink feature is used extensively throughout the Microsoft Office package. Hyperlinks are also often contained in PDF documents, either for linking to external content, or to allow users to instantly navigate to a specific section of the document.
When the hyperlink is a click-able text string, this is referred to as ‘anchor text’ and when the hyperlink is in image form, this image is referred to as an ‘anchor image’. It is also worth noting that some programs, applications and web platforms can automatically follow hyperlink trails, in order to gather all associated data. These programs are usually described as ‘crawlers’ and the concept is most commonly associated with search engines like Google.
The majority of website building tools, content publishing platforms, text editing tools and email clients will provide built-in features, allowing users to easily turn text strings or images into hyperlinks. Generally, to do this, you will simply need to highlight the text or image you wish to turn into a hyperlink, click on the hyperlink function, and insert the URL you wish to link to. The platform will then automatically create the hyperlink.
However, where such an option does not exist, it will usually be necessary to edit the HTML code of the website, or to insert HTML codes into a piece of content. The basic HTML for creating a hyperlink is as follows:
<a href="INSERT URL HERE">INSERT ANCHOR TEXT HERE</a>
Some blogging platforms, website builders and internet forums also support BB Code instead of HTML for creating hyperlinks. The basic BB Code for creating a hyperlink is as follows:
[url=INSERT URL HERE]INSERT ANCHOR TEXT HERE[/url]
Users who find this confusing will also be able to find a hyperlink creator tool online, and use this to create the HTML or BB Code for their hyperlink. An example of a free hyperlink creator is Easy Hyperlinks. By using that website, it is possible to create both text and image hyperlinks, without needing to memorise any of the coding.
Within documents created through software packages like Microsoft Office, hyperlink creation is usually carried out through a feature provided in the software itself. For example, in Microsoft Word, you can create a hyperlink by selecting the text or image you wish to use as the anchor, right-clicking and selecting either ‘Link’ or ‘Hyperlink’ (depending on the version of Word you are using). Then, simply enter the link destination and click ‘OK’.
The process for actually accessing the hyperlink varies from program to program. In Microsoft Word, you can access a hyperlink by holding the CTRL button before clicking on it. The application will then launch your default web browser and the link will be followed, taking you to the destination.
For those wondering how to activate hyperlink in PowerPoint, the process varies depending on whether you are editing a slide show or viewing a slide show. If you are editing a slide show, you can access a hyperlink by right-clicking on the link and selecting ‘Open Hyperlink’. If you are viewing the slide show, you should be able to access hyperlinks in text or image form by simply left-clicking on them, using the cursor.
A hyperlink is a click-able text string, image or other on-screen element which, when followed, allows users to access another piece of data, such as a web page, a file, or another part of the same document. Hyperlinks are typically referred to more simply as ‘links’ and form a major part of most web content. However, in addition, hyperlinks can also be placed within written text files, slide shows and other documents.
Within web pages, hyperlinks can be added through HTML, while other platforms also support BB Code. With that being said, many software applications and web development tools include built-in hyperlink functions, which allow text or images to be automatically converted into working links, without needing to know the code.