Links

This is guidance for hyperlinks that appear in the primary content areas of GSA.gov and InSite pages. See separate online guidance for how to create hyperlinks.

  1. Ensure that links work
  2. Use default format
  3. Use link text that is meaningful and descriptive
  4. Use appropriate link text lengths
  5. Place links at the end of pararaph to improve scannability
  6. Link only once to the same destination within the same paragraph
  7. Use correct link address format
  8. Ensure links open in the same browser window
  9. Don’t link back to the GSA.gov homepage
  10. Annotate links to nongovernment websites
  11. Ensure that telephone numbers are clickable
  12. Ensure that email addresses are clickable

1. Ensure that links work

When reviewing your content, check links and fix broken links.

 

2. Use default format

When you create links using the content editor, they will have a default style. Do not add any style, such as bold or color or anything, to the default link style. Customized styles are used on links in menus, navigation bars and umbrella pages.. 

GSA.gov link format: By default, all links on GSA.gov are the same blue and NOT underlined, but the link does display as underlined upon hover.

InSite link format: By default, links on InSite are the same blue and underlined when they appear in the body of the page.

 

3. Use link text that is meaningful and descriptive

 

4. Use appropriate link text lengths

  • The length of the link label should be long enough to be understood, but short enough to minimize wrapping.
  • Incorporate larger chunks of words to make link descriptive. Nine to ten words are acceptable, but links can often be shorter and remain clear.

 

5. Place links at the end of paragraph to improve scannability

  • Appending the link to the end of paragraph (instead of embedding it into the text) can help avoid wrapping and aids visitors scanning the page for links – particularly if there are many similar links on the page. Including a “greater than” (>) symbol is recommended in these cases. Business opportunities in the Southeast Sunbelt >
  • Use pointers. The greater than symbol “>” should be used as a consistent visual cue in links at the end of a paragraphs, or at the bottom of a page. For example, a link to an extended biography from a brief message could be written as follows. More about the GSA Administrator >

 

6. Link only once to the same destination within the same paragraph

 

7. Use correct link address format

The link address is the URL of the destination page that you're linking to.

  • Use relative URL for internal links. For example use /portal/content/104877.
  • Do not use URLs with Google Analytics campaign tracking parameters for internal links. For example:
    • Do not use /portal/content/104877?utm source=OCM&utm medium=print-radio&utm term=HP 01 Requested perdiem&utm campaign=shortcuts
    • But instead use /portal/content/104877
  • Use shortcuts as links when possible, if the shortcut already exist for target page. For example: /schedules.

 

8. Ensure links open in the same browser window

When users click links on GSA.gov pages, the destination page should open in the same browser tab. The browser tab in which a link opens is referred to as the target frame. 

GSA.gov standards for link target frames are as follows:

  • Ensure that external links open in a same window
  • Ensure that internal links open in the same window

By default, links that are created using the WYSIWYG editor Insert Hyperlinks that open in the same window. So, you do not need to change the target frame when creating links. 

Note: the evolution of browsers, better compliance with 508 standards, and the spread of mobile devices have led to this standard, which is a change from past recommendations. When renewing existing pages, please review and update the target frame for links which do not meet this standard. 

 

9. Don’t link back to the the GSA.gov homepage

The GSA logo in the header of every page serves as the link back to the homepage. If the GSA.gov must be mentioned in the body of the page, deactivate the link. As an example, see how the mention of GSA.gov is treated in the second paragraph on Sustainability Posters.

 

10. Annotate links to nongovernment websites

When linking to a nongovernment website, add [a nongovernment website] at the end of link label. 

For example, visit the Whole Building Design Guide [a nongovernment website].

 

11. Ensure that telephone numbers are clickable

For example, 555-555-5555. This guidance applies primarily to GSA.gov.  

For international dialing format, always supply the phone number using the international dialing format: the plus sign (+), country code, area code and number. While not absolutely necessary, it’s a good idea to separate each segment of the number with a hyphen (-) for easier reading and better auto-detection. 

For GSA.gov telephone numbers that appear in the content created by the WYSIWYG editor, use the code below to manually code phone numbers in the WYSIWYG editor.

 

This code will make a phone number clickable. 

<a href="tel:###-###-####">###-###-####</a>

<a href="tel:#-###-##-###-###-####">#+###+##+(###) ###-####</a>

 

12. Ensure that email addresses are clickable

The format for email addresses of individual employees is all lower case for example, jane.doe@gsa.gov. Note that email addresses displayed as items such as contact blocks, created outside of the WYSIWYG editor, are clickable by default.

Last Reviewed 2017-06-07