Some hyperlink conventions have changed
Reader’s question: Are there any conventions for writing web addresses, i.e. should you try and get the whole address on one line and should you use http or www or both?
My answer: I have updated my original response to this question because some styles have changed.
How you write web addresses (hyperlinks, links or URLs) depends on whether you are writing for an online or print medium.
Hyperlinks are usually attached to meaningful words or phrases in online text. For instance:
Learn more about my online writing courses.
Occasionally, websites use ‘Read more’ or ‘Click here’, but some experts don’t like that technique, so I would use it sparingly, if at all. I use ‘Read more’ occasionally in my e-newsletter, but not elsewhere.
I make my hyperlinks open in new windows. Some websites open links within the same window. I was a judge for the New Zealand Plain Language Awards (2018) for the public websites category and all the websites I reviewed had links opening within the same window. A post on medium.com says links should open within the same window. What’s your view on links opening within the same window?
Hyperlink style changes
These are the styles I think have changed:
- Full stops: In the past, I didn’t put a full stop at the end of a sentence with a hyperlink because if the link was copied, the full stop could cause it to fail. This no longer appears to be a problem, so I now use full stops.
- Underlining: In the past, hyperlinks were underlined, and although some websites still use underlining, most just use colour now. Blue is still the most common colour; a choice which has its roots in the history of the internet.
You can embed hyperlinks in Word and PDF documents, but if you don’t want them to act as links, your style choices for writing them are:
- https://www.onlinewritingtraining.com.au (most websites are ‘https’, not ‘http’ now)
- onlinewritingtraining.com.au or Onlinewritingtraining.com.au
(Style guides don’t agree on whether you need an initial capital and I see both.)
You can also highlight hyperlinks with underlining and/or colour. As with online hyperlinks, colour is used more than underlining.
To answer your original question, I would try and keep the hyperlink on the same line if possible. If that’s not possible, choose a logical place to carry it over to the next line, and don’t add a hyphen to indicate the split because that will break the link.
With embedded online hyperlinks, length is not an issue and social media will usually shorten a link for you. I used to shorten links for social media with Bitly, but seldom use this service today.
Learn more about styles with my online Grammar, Punctuation and Usage course.
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