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How to make hyperlinks in your documents

You can harness the power of hyperlinks in your note taking and essay writing very easily, boosting your productivity.

How links work

Hyperlinks provide a familiar way of finding web pages, but you may be less familiar with using links to other files on your computer, or specific places in documents. For example, when you take notes in a word processing document you can include a link to the relevant page in your module material, or to a paragraph of related material in another of your notes files. This can save you a lot of time later, especially during revision.

A hyperlink has two parts.

  • The first is the text that displays on the page, often styled in blue with an underline.
  • The web address link itself – the destination to which a clicker is taken.

Sometimes the two are the same, with the web address link also being the visible text – https://learn1.open.ac.uk/course/view.php?id=100132. Sometimes they’re different – the OU Computing Guide. Both of those links take you to the same place, but one is much easier for a reader to understand in advance.

Whichever word processor you use, when you insert a hyperlink into your document you'll need to provide the web address and decide on the text you want to display. It makes sense to use something meaningful for the display text. You can, if you wish, attach a link to a picture or other graphic object, instead of text, but there’s no equivalent of underlined blue type to remind you that the link is there.

How to make links

In the case of a web page you should include the complete address that usually, though not always, starts with 'http://' or 'https://'. You should copy the address from the address window in your web browser because if you type it and get even a single character wrong the link won’t work. If the web page is subsequently moved you might be lucky and find that the webserver silently directs you to the new location.

Where you're making a link to another file in your computer or another place in your document you need to take some care as, if you subsequently move the file you link will certainly fail. So it’s important that you have an organised filing structure, as recommended in the article How to organise your computer files. That will reduce the chance of you moving files around.

Making a link to your own document

To link to a specific place in a document you first have to give that place a name, which could be the name of a heading or a 'bookmark' that you insert.

If you use styles properly in your word processor, as recommended in the article on styles, you can link directly to any heading within the document you have open.

If you want to link to a specific place in another document (the 'target' document) some word processors can’t use the headings and instead have to use bookmarks.

A word processor bookmark makes an invisible mark at a point in the text that can then be accessed by the word processor and other program. It's given a name that acts as an address for links from inside or outside the document.

Last updated 7 months ago