Continuing on from yesterday’s post on MS Word Accessibility – Tables. Today, DigiKnow looks at accessibility, best practice and hyperlinks.

Think of a hyperlink as directing the audience to more information on a topic, i.e., further reading. This can be to a web page, a file or a document.

Did you know there are four types of hyperlinks in MS Word? Hyperlinks can be applied to text, images or bookmarks within a document. The fourth hyperlink type is for email.

Whilst it is good to supply additional information around a subject and not include it all within the current document, there are several bad practices using hyperlinks, as can be seen below:

Example one (bad practice)

For more information, click here.

The ‘here’ doesn’t detail what information the audience is being directed to. It could be anything. The information could be different to what the audience expects or the link could be broken, inappropriate or irrelevant.

Example two (bad practice)

For more information, click the link below:

The link does not suggest where the audience will be directed to. It is not aesthetic and it takes up much space on the page. The link looks messy and could be hidden. If you are thinking about how the MS Word document looks, consider hiding long links with appropriate text.

Albeit, these examples are applied to web addresses, the principle also applies to hyperlinks (or paths) to files and documents. A better practice of adding a hyperlink can be seen below:

Example (good practice)

For more information, click on Searching for Hyperlinks

This example informs the audience of where the link will direct them, i.e., “Searching for Hyperlinks”. It saves space as it’s not very long. However, the link could still be wrong or broken, but this could also be the same for the two previous examples.

The disadvantages of hyperlinks in documents
  • Internet unavailable – the audience reading the document may need online access to view hyperlinked information
  • Bad Hyperlinks – over time, websites can change in structure, thus making links obsolete. These need checked and updated regularly
  • Inappropriate content – websites can be hacked and information changed. If this is the case, please contact the owner of the website and inform them
  • The number of links – don’t add in too many links. This can be distracting for the audience. Information links could be to policies, Terms & Conditions, etc.
  • Links to documents within an organisation – not all users will have permission to open these files. They may only be accessed from within the organisation
  • Altered document content – files can be overwritten (accidentally or on purpose) and links may no longer be relevant or valid
  • Missing files – files can be moved to different folder locations. The document hyperlink won’t automatically update
  • Image hyperlinks – it may not be evident to the audience that images are clickable
Best practice

This blog uses a different color scheme with hyperlinks in red, but links are typically underlined and colored blue by default. When you create a hyperlink in MS Word, it will turn blue and be underlined, thus indicating its click-ability. Not only has this format become user expectation but blue is more likely view-able by people living with color-blindness.

When audiences read the document, they will scan content. Links are obvious to sighted users (as blue and underlined). Always create or choose appropriate text to link to. Meaningful text in a link makes the information more accessible to users of adaptive technologies whilst informing them where they are being directed.

Creating linked text

As previously stated, use meaningful text. Don’t use “Click Here” or long web addresses as links.

Select the text intended to be the hyperlink as can be seen in the image below.

Example showing selected text
Example showing selected text

Click the Insert Tab:

Insert Tab (MS Word)
Insert Tab (MS Word)

Choose the Hyperlink button in the Links section:

Hyperlink button within the Links section of the Design Tab (MS Word)
Hyperlink button within the Links section of the Design Tab (MS Word)

In the Insert Hyperlink dialogue box, click on the Address box toward the bottom.

Insert Hyperlink dialogue box with the Address bar highlighted in red
Insert Hyperlink dialogue box with the Address bar highlighted in red

Insert the link address. Click OK.

  Insert Hyperlink dialogue box with the Address inserted
Insert Hyperlink dialogue box with the Address inserted

Immediately underneath, you can see how the hyperlink would look in MS Word, this is for illustration purposes only.

MS Word Hyperlink example
MS Word Hyperlink example

Below, you can click on the linked text and be taken to a web page and learn more about choosing appropriate text for hyperlinks. Enjoy!

Click Choosing appropriate text for a hyperlink to learn more.

Please join DigiKnow again tomorrow for MS Word Accessibility – Use of Space.


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