✎ Technique: Writing link text

Link text is the text you select for a link that describing what happens when a user activates it. So it needs to clearly and accurately convey the link's purpose. Commonly, link text is the name of the linked page or document. When a link leads to a document that's not a web page, such as a PDF or Word document, that should be clarified in the link text. Avoid overly terse, ambiguous link text, and avoid reusing the same link text within a page for links that lead to different destinations.

Good link text helps all users find the information they need, and is particularly helpful for screen reader users, who might navigate pages by moving from link to link, hearing only the text of each link in turn. If the link text doesn't indicate the destination or purpose of the link, screen-reader users have to rely on listening to the surrounding text for context. 

Example 1

✗ Bad example

I think you should read this article about link text.

This link has text that does not indicate its purpose when read out of context: The screen reader would just announce "link: this." Screen readers also provide dialogs that list all the links in a page. If "this" was one of the links listed, it'd be impossible to tell where it might take you.

✓ Good example

I think you should read this article about link text.

After adjusting the link text, when the link is focused, screen readers will announce "link: article about link text." This link text is successful because its meaning is independent of its surrounding text.

Example 2

✗ Bad example

In these examples, the text of each link doesn't indicate their purpose. The links also have identical text, despite linking to different resources. This poses an additional cognitive issue because links that are labelled the same way shouldn’t do different things.

✓ Good example

We can improve this example for screen reader accessibility, and simultaneously make it less complex by making it a simple list of links: