Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Linking

Linking through hyperlinks is an important feature of Wikipedia. Internal links bind the project together into an interconnected whole. Interwikimedia links bind the project to sister projects such as Wikisource, Wiktionary and Wikipedia in other languages, and external links bind Wikipedia to the World Wide Web.

Appropriate links provide instant pathways to locations within and outside the project that can increase readers' understanding of the topic at hand. Whenever writing or ing an article, consider not only what to put in the article, but what links to include to help the reader find related information, and also which other pages should have links to the article. Avoid both underlinking and overlinking, as described below.

This page provides guidelines as to when links should and should not be used, and how to format links. For information about the syntax used to create links, see Help:Link. For links on disambiguation pages, see Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Disambiguation pages.

Principles[]

Wikipedia is based on hypertext, and aims to "build the web" to enable readers to access relevant information on other pages easily. The page from which the hyperlink is activated is called the anchor; the page the link points to is called the target.

In adding or removing links, consider an article's place in the knowledge tree. Internal links can add to the cohesion and utility of Wikipedia, allowing readers to deepen their understanding of a topic by conveniently accessing other articles. Ask yourself, "How likely is it that the reader will also want to read that other article?" Consider including links where readers might want to use them; for example, in article leads, at the openings of new sections, in the cells of tables, and in file captions. But, as a rule of thumb, only link the first occurrence of a term in the text of the article.

General points on linking style[]

Overlinking and underlinking[]

What generally should be linked[]

An article is said to be underlinked if words are not linked and are needed to aid understanding of the article. In general, links should be created for:

Do not be afraid to create links to potential articles that do not yet exist (see § Red links).

If you feel that a link is relevant to the topic of the article, but does not belong in the body of an article, consider moving it to a "See also" section.

What generally should not be linked[]

An article is said to be overlinked if it contains an excessive number of links, making it difficult to identify those likely to aid a reader's understanding.[1][Note 2] A good question to ask yourself is whether reading the article you're about to link to would help someone understand the article you are linking from. Unless a term is particularly relevant to the context in the article, the following are usually not linked:

However, try to be conscious of your own demographic biases – what is well known in your age group, line of work, or country may be less known in others.

Do not link to pages that redirect back to the page the link is on (unless the link is to a redirect with possibilities that links to an appropriate section of the current article).

The purpose of linking is to clarify, not emphasize. Do not link solely to draw attention to certain words or ideas, or as a mark of respect.

Duplicate and repeat links[]

Generally, a link should appear only once in an article, but it may be repeated if helpful for readers, such as in infoboxes, tables, image captions, footnotes, hatnotes, and at the first occurrence after the lead. Citations stand alone in their usage, so there is no problem with repeating the same link in many citations within an article; e.g. |work=[[The Guardian]].

In glossaries, which are primarily referred to for encyclopedic entries on specific terms rather than read from top to bottom like a regular article, it is usually desirable to repeat links (including to other terms in the glossary) that were not already linked in the same entry (see Template:Glossary link).

Duplicate linking in stand-alone and embedded lists is permissible if it significantly aids the reader. This is most often the case when the list is presenting information that could just as aptly be formatted in a table, and is expected to be parsed for particular bits of data, not read from top to bottom. If the list is normal article prose that happens to be formatted as a list, treat it as normal article prose.

Duplicate links in an article can be found using the duplinks-alt sidebar tool.

Lead section[]

Too many links can make the lead hard to read. In technical articles that use uncommon terms, a higher-than-usual link density in the lead section may be necessary. In such cases, try to provide an informal explanation in the lead, avoiding using too many technical terms until later in the article—see Wikipedia:Make technical articles understandable and Wikipedia is not a scientific journal.

An example article[]

For example, in the article on supply and demand:

Link clarity[]

The article linked to should correspond as closely as possible to the term showing as the link, given the context: for example, When Mozart wrote his Requiem (See also § Piped links on how to achieve this) rather than When Mozart wrote his Requiem, or Previn conducted Mozart's Requiem rather than Previn conducted Mozart's Requiem—this makes it clear the link is to the article on Mozart's Requiem in particular, rather than that on requiems in general. The link target and the link label do not have to match exactly, but the link must be as intuitive as possible (see § Intuitiveness).

Link specificity[]

Always link to the article on the most specific topic appropriate to the context from which you link: it will generally contain more focused information, as well as links to more general topics.

What you type How it appears Specificity
[[Icelandic orthography]] Icelandic orthography Specific (preferred)
[[Icelandic language|Icelandic]] orthography Icelandic orthography Related but less specific
Icelandic [[orthography]] Icelandic orthography Unspecific
the [[flag of Tokelau]] the flag of Tokelau Specific (preferred)
the [[flag]] of [[Tokelau]] the flag of Tokelau Unspecific
[[Requiem (Mozart)|Requiem]] Requiem Specific (preferred)
[[Requiem]] Requiem Unspecific

If there is no article about the most specific topic, do one of the following things:

When neither a redirect nor a red link appears appropriate, consider linking to a more general article instead. For example, instead of Baroque hairstyles (an article which, as of 2021, has never been created), write Baroque hairstyles (which will provide a link to the Baroque era), Baroque hairstyles (which provides a link to the article on hairstyle), Baroque hairstyles (which provides no link at all, and which may be preferable depending on context), or hairstyles of the Baroque (which provides separate links to both topics; however, do not create Baroque hairstyles as two adjacent links as this implies the existence of a single article on that topic).

Section links[]

If an existing article has a section specifically about the topic, you can redirect or link directly to it, by following the article name with a number sign (#) and the name of the section. For example, underpromotion is a redirect to Promotion (chess) § Underpromotion, and in the article Quark, the link eight gluon types (typed as [[Gluon#Eight gluon colors|eight gluon types]]) links to a specific section in the article Gluon.

To link to a section within the same article, write: [[#Promotion to rook or bishop|§ promotion to a rook or bishop]]. You can also use the {{section link}} template for this purpose.

Avoiding broken section links[]

A problem can arise if the title of the section is changed for any reason, since this action will break any incoming section links (if this occurs, incoming links will default to the top of the linked article). The recommended way to prevent this breakage is to use a {{subst:Anchor}} template specifying the section's prior name.

An alternative, supplementary method has been to add a hidden comment to the target section such as <!-- "Quark" links here -->[Note 3] so that someone changing the title of that section can fix the incoming links. This method is weaker, since it puts the workload on the or seeking to change the section title.

There are some bots aimed to fix broken anchors: User:Cewbot, User:Dexbot, User:FrescoBot.

Techniques[]

Redirects[]

Suppose you need to link poodle, and there is no such article yet. You might want to create a redirect from "poodle" to "dog" as follows: Link as usual: She owned a [[poodle]]. When you save or preview this, you will see: She owned a poodle. Click on the red link, and you will be invited to create a new page for poodle; enter (perhaps) #REDIRECT [[Dog]], so that readers clicking on poodle will be taken, for now, to the dog article.

The redirect is better than a direct link like [[dog|poodle]], because when an actual poodle article is eventually created (replacing the redirect), readers clicking on poodle will be taken there automatically without anyone needing to review all the links to dog to see which ones should actually go to poodle.

To link to a redirect page without following the underlying redirect, use e.g. {{no redirect|poodle}}. Avoid linking redirects that are self links (WP:SELFRED).

Piped links[]

Though a wikilink defaults to displaying the title of the target article, it is possible to choose more specific or more appropriate display text for the intended context. This can be done with the use of the pipe character (|). For example, [[Henry II of England|Henry II]] displays as Henry II. However, make sure that it is still clear what the link is about without having to follow the link. Think about what the reader may believe the text refers to. For example, when seeing the link [[Archery at the 2008 Summer Olympics|Archery]], which displays as Archery, the reader will probably expect this link to go to a general article on archery, rather than Archery at the 2008 Summer Olympics specifically. An exception to this is when it is clear from the context that a link refers to a specific article; for instance, in Template:2008 Summer Olympics calendar all links go to articles about these particular games.

Style[]

Intuitiveness[]

Keep piped links as intuitive as possible. Per the principle of least astonishment, make sure that the reader knows what to expect when clicking on a link. You should plan your page structure and links so that everything appears reasonable and makes sense. If a link takes readers to somewhere other than where they thought it would, it should at least take them somewhere that makes sense. For example, do not write:
     Richard Feynman was also known for work in [[Parton (particle physics)|particle physics]].
Here readers would see the link displayed as particle physics, not the hidden reference to the page Parton (particle physics), unless they clicked on the link or hovered their mouse cursor over it. If a physical copy of the article were printed, the reference to the parton model would be lost. Such links are sometimes called "Easter egg" or "submarine" links. Instead, refer to the separate article with an explicit see also X, or by rephrasing the sentence, as in:
     Richard Feynman was also known for work in [[particle physics]], especially the [[Parton (particle physics)|parton]] model.

Sometimes moving other words into the bluelinked text avoids surprise. In an article on the history of Texas:
     In 1845, the Republic of Texas was [[Texas annexation|annexed]] by the United States. implies the topic of annexation is linked;
     In 1845, the Republic of Texas was [[Texas annexation|annexed by the United States]]. implies that the 1845 event is linked.

Do not place a link to a name within another name. For example:

Write: [[Columbus Avenue (Boston)|Columbus Avenue]] Columbus Avenue
Do not write: [[Christopher Columbus|Columbus]] Avenue Columbus Avenue
Write: [[Feynman diagram]] Feynman diagram
Do not write: [[Richard Feynman|Feynman]] diagram Feynman diagram

The above applies regardless of whether linking to the full name creates a red link; for example, even if there is no article titled Lafayette Avenue (Brooklyn):

Do not write: [[Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de Lafayette|Lafayette]] Avenue Lafayette Avenue

See also § Link clarity.

Piping and redirects[]

As per WP:NOTBROKEN and § Link specificity above, do not use a piped link where it is possible to use a redirected term that fits well within the scope of the text. For example, the page Papageno is a redirect to the article about Mozart's opera The Magic Flute. While ing some other article, you might want to link the term Papageno; here, you might be tempted to avoid the redirect by using a pipe within the link, as in [[The Magic Flute|Papageno]]. Instead, write simply [[Papageno]] and let the system handle the rest. This has two advantages: first, if an article is written later about the more specific subject (in this case, "Papageno"), fewer links will need to be changed to accommodate the new article; second, it indicates that the article is wanted. An exception to this rule is when linking to articles in Did you know (DYK) "hooks" on the Main Page, where piping links to avoid readers seeing a redirect notice is preferable, and the hook will only be live for a short time. (See also WP:Piped link § When not to use.)

Piped links and redirects to sections of articles[]

Linking to particular sections of articles can be useful, inasmuch as it can take the reader immediately to the information that is most focused on the original topic. Use of a piped link here avoids the unsightly Article name#Section name in the display text (alternative methods are to use a redirect or {{Section link}}). The format for a link to a page section is [[Article#Section|name of link]]. For example, to link to the "Culture" subsection of the article Oman, type [[Oman#Culture|culture of Oman]]; this displays as culture of Oman (note that the section name is case-sensitive). When doing this, add a hidden comment to the target section such as <!-- The article ArticleName links here. --> so that if another user s the title of that section, they can fix the incoming links (alternatively, use {{Anchor}} in cases where a section has a large number of incoming links).

Many topics useful for linking may currently appear only as sections of other Wikipedia articles, but are potentially notable enough to become articles on their own. For example, the article Eastern Anyshire might have a small "History" section, but this does not prevent the article History of Eastern Anyshire being written eventually. Usually, a redirect page from such a sub-topic to a general topic will exist already; if not, they can be created when the occasion arises. It is bad practice to create links in article text using the format [[Article#Section]]; navigation then becomes difficult if the section is expanded into a new article. Instead, link using a redirect to the main topic; it costs little and makes improvements easier.

Links to foreign language pages[]

See Help:Interlanguage links § Inline links.

Links to Wikipedia's categories[]

Wikipedia has categories of articles like [[Category:Phrases]]; adding this to an article puts it into that category. You can link to a category by putting a colon in front.

For example [[:Category:Phrases]] links to Category:Phrases, and piping can be used: Phrases.

{{See also cat|Phrases}} creates:

Red links[]

Overlinking in general is a style issue partly because of the undesirable effect upon readability. But if too many blue links is distracting (reducing the chance the article will be read), then a red link is even more so. The unassuming coloration of the text (probably black) is the most productive.

In prose, if it seems that the level of red linking is overlinking, remember that red links have been found to be a driving force that encourages contributions,[Note 4] and then use that fact to balance the perceived stylistic issues of "overlinking" the red links. (Legitimate red links are titles to unfulfilled coverage of topics that do not violate "What Wikipedia is not" policy.) Given a certain number of red links needed, if marking all of them could be overlinking, then just how many should be marked could be a style issue, and just which ones are priority is a helpful contribution.

In lists, overlinking red links can occur when every item on a list is a red link. If the list is uniform, where each item is obviously qualified for an article, a single red link (or blue link) could indicate that. If the list is not uniform, the research effort to mark all possible red links is a risky investment: while red means "approved" status, "black" remains ambiguous, even though it meant "disapproved" after research. Valid requests for the future creation of each title in a list, or in prose, may also be a risky investment when the number of red links could be perceived by other ors as overlinking, and then removed before the investment was fruitful. The removal of massive numbers of red links from an overlinked list is best handled by an or skilled in the automation of text processing.

Red links can also be removed if they violate policy or the guideline for red links, but otherwise red links do not have an expiration date. If you remain convinced there is overlinking of red links, consider turning some of them blue. The methods to do so are by creating a simple stub, a redirect, or a disambiguation page. All of these require the certainty that the red link was legitimate in the first place, such as the conventions on article titles.

Colored links[]

In prose, refrain from implementing colored links, as these may impede user ability to distinguish links from regular text. See the guides to ing articles for accessibility at contrast and navbox colors.

Checking links as they are created[]

It's easy to create an erroneous link without realizing it. When adding a new link, it's a good idea to click on the "Show preview" button and then (from the preview) open the link in a new browser tab to check that it goes where you intend.

By following naming conventions, an internal link will be much more likely to lead to an existing article. When there is not yet an article about the subject, a good link will make it easier to create a correctly named article later.

Specific cases[]

Linking month-and-day or year[]

Month-and-day articles (e.g. February 24 and 10 July) and year articles (e.g. 1795, 1955, 2007) should not be linked unless the linked date or year has a significant connection to the subject of the linking article, beyond that of the date itself, so that the linking enhances the reader's understanding of the subject. For example:

However, in intrinsically chronological articles (1789, January, and 1940s), links to specific month-and-day, month-and year, or year articles are not discouraged.

Commemorative days (Saint Patrick's Day) are not considered month-and-day items for the purposes of the above.

Units of measurement that are not obscure[]

Generally, a unit should be linked only if it is likely to be obscure to many readers or is itself being discussed. For example, the troy ounce, bushel, hand, candela, knot, mho, or millibarn might be considered obscure even if they are well-known within their field of use. Other units may be obscure in some countries even if well known in others.

External links section[]

Wikipedia is not a link collection, and an article comprising only links is contrary to what the "what Wikipedia is not" policy dictates.

Syntax[]

The syntax for referencing a web address is simple. Just enclose it in single brackets with a space between the URL and the text that will be displayed when the page is previewed or saved:

[https://www.example.org Text to display]

The text will display as:

Text to display

The URL must begin with either http:// or https://, or another common protocol, such as ftp:// or news://. If no protocol is used, the square brackets will display normally – [like this] – and can be used in the standard way.

In addition, putting URLs in plain text with no markup automatically produces a link, for example https://www.example.org/https://www.example.org/. However, this feature may disappear in a future release. Therefore, in cases where you wish to display the URL because it is intrinsically valuable information, it is better to use the short form of the URL (domain name) as the optional text: [https://www.example.org/ example.org] produces example.org.

Citations templates such as {{cite web}} should not be used in the ==External links== section. External link templates such as {{official website}} are used instead of citation templates.

Link titles[]

Embedded HTML links within an article are a now-deprecated way to supply a bare URL as a source within an article, by simply enclosing the URL in square brackets, like this: [https://www.guardian.co.uk/usa/story/0,12271,1650417,00.html][1]. However, you should add a descriptive title when an external link is offered in the References, Further reading, or External links section. This is done by supplying descriptive text after the URL, separated by a space and enclosing it all in square brackets.

For example, to add a title to a bare URL such as https://en.wikipedia.org/ (this is rendered as https://en.wikipedia.org/), use the following syntax: [https://en.wikipedia.org/ an open-content encyclopedia] (this is rendered as "an open-content encyclopedia").

Generally, URLs and domain names are ugly and uninformative; it is better for a meaningful title or description to be displayed rather than the URL or domain itself. For example, European Space Agency website is much more reader-friendly than http://www.esa.int/ESA. There may be exceptions where the domain name is well known or is also the company or publication name. When a URL or domain name is given, putting both a plain-English title or description and the URL will often be more informative: for example, European Space Agency website, www.esa.int.

If the URL or domain name is displayed, make it as simple as possible; for example, if the index.html is superfluous, remove it (but be sure to check in preview mode first). Many but not all sites can be trimmed of a leading "www."; test it to be sure. Use camelcase to make a displayed domain more readable, e.g. WashingtonPost.com versus washingtonpost.com.

The "printable version" of a Wikipedia article displays all URLs in full, including those given a title, so no information is lost.

URLs as embedded (numbered) links[]

Without the optional text, external references appear as automatically numbered links: For example,

[https://en.wikipedia.org/]

is displayed like this:

[2]

Numbered links of this type used to be used after the punctuation, like this,[3] with a full citation given in the References section. This style of referencing is now deprecated, because such links are susceptible to link rot. See Wikipedia:Citing sources and Wikipedia:Verifiability for more information.

Position in article[]

Embedded links that support information in an article are positioned in the same manner as any other reference in the article, following the usual standards about citation formatting and placement in relation to punctuation.

Links that are not used as sources can be listed in the External links section, like this:

==External links==
* [https://...]
* [http://...]

As with other top-level headings, two equal signs should be used to mark up the external links heading (see Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Layout § Headings). External links should always be the last section in an article. It precedes categories and some kinds of navigation templates.

If there is a dispute on the position of an embedded link, consider organizing alphabetically.

Non-English-language sites[]

Webpages in English are highly preferred. Linking to non-English pages may still be useful for readers in the following cases:

If the language is one that most readers could not be expected to recognize, or is for some other reason unclear from the name of the publication or the book or article or page title, consider indicating what language the site is in.

You can also indicate the language by putting a language template after the link. This is done using Template:In lang by typing {{In lang|<language code>}}. For example, {{In lang|es}} displays as: (in Spanish). See list of ISO 639 codes.

When using one of the Citation Style 1 or Citation Style 2 templates, instead of the {{In lang}} template, use the |language= parameter. This parameter accepts language names or language codes; see this list of supported names and codes (use of language codes is to be preferred because cs1|2 automatically renders language names in the language of the local Wikipedia).

File type and size[]

If the link is not to an HTML or PDF file (the latter is identified automatically by the software with an icon like this: [4]), identify the file type. Useful templates are available: {{DOClink}}, {{RTFlink}}. If a browser plugin is required to view the file, mention that as well. If a link is to a PDF file but doesn't end with .pdf, you can put a #.pdf at the end to flag it as a PDF.

If the link is to a very large page (considering all its elements including images), a note about that is useful since someone with a slow or expensive connection may decide not to visit it.

Interwiki links[]

Linking[]

Interwiki links can take the form of:

[[wikt:article]] which appears as: wikt:article

The pipe symbol suppresses the prefix:

[[wikt:article|]]article

Adding text after the pipe allows either the same or a different text (with no prefix):

[[wikt:article|article]]article
[[wikt:article|Any text]]Any text

To avoid reader confusion, inline interlanguage, or interwiki, linking within an article's body text is generally discouraged. Exceptions: Wiktionary and Wikisource entries may be linked inline (e.g. to an unusual word or the text of a document being discussed), and {{Interlanguage link}} template may be helpful to show a red link accompanied by an interlanguage link if no article exists in English Wikipedia.

Floating boxes[]

Floating boxes for links to articles in other Wikimedia Foundation projects such as Wiktionary and Wikiquote can be done with special link templates such as {{Wikiquote|Jimmy Wales}}. These will display as a box with a logo. Similar templates exist for some free content resources that are not run by the Wikimedia Foundation. These boxes are formatted in light green to distinguish them from Wikipedia's official sister projects. A list of such templates can be found at Wikipedia:List of templates linking to other free content projects.

Link maintenance[]

Linking and continual change are both central features of Wikipedia. However, continual change makes linking vulnerable to acquired technical faults, and to the later provision of different information from that which was originally intended. This is true of both "outgoing" links (from an article) and "incoming" links (to an article).

Buttons[]

Buttons should not be used in articles. If the desire is to "navigate" a reader to a new page, taking them away from the current page, a link is preferred. Buttons are used within Wikipedia to trigger an "action", such as Show preview, Create account, or Ask a question.[2]

See also[]

Notes[]

  1. ^ Many, but not all, articles repeat the article title in bold face in the first line of the article. Linking the article to itself produces boldface text; this practice is discouraged as page moves will result in a useless circular link through a redirect. Linking part of the bolded text is also discouraged because it changes the visual effect of bolding; some readers will miss the visual cue which is the purpose of using bold face in the first place.
  2. ^ A 2015 study of log data found that "in the English Wikipedia, of all the 800,000 links added ... in February 2015, the majority (66%) were not clicked even a single time in March 2015, and among the rest, most links were clicked only very rarely", and that "simply adding more links does not increase the overall number of clicks taken from a page. Instead, links compete with each other for user attention." This was reported in:
    • Ashwin Paranjape, Bob West, Jure Leskovec, Leila Zia: Improving Website Hyperlink Structure Using Server Logs. WSDM'16, February 22–25, 2016, San Francisco, CA, USA. PDF
  3. ^ The hidden message (<!-- "Article" links here -->) must be added to the target section with a break between the header and the hidden message, or problems arise. Note the two lines:
    ==Target section==
    <!-- "Article" links here -->
    See MOS:HEADINGS for further discussion of valid and invalid placement of heading comments.
  4. ^ Academic research has suggested that red links may be a driving force in Wikipedia growth; see Spinellis, Diomidis; Louridas, Panagiotis (2008). "The collaborative organization of knowledge". Communications of the ACM. 51 (8): 68–73. doi:10.1145/1378704.1378720. Most new articles are created shortly after a corresponding reference to them is entered into the system See also Wikipedia:Inflationary hypothesis of Wikipedia growth.

References[]

  1. ^ Dvorak, John C. (April 16, 2002). "Missing Links". PC Magazine. Archived from the original on August 6, 2011. Retrieved August 16, 2021.
  2. ^ "The Wikimedia Design Style Guide (buttons)".

External links[]