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Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Hyperlink Grammar

Is there a consensus on the appropriate words to hyperlink? For example, in an article I have the sentence, "...many mainstream economists have recognized the pernicious role played by the Fed."

First, put aside your objections to my use of the passive voice. Now then: I am hyperlinking to this blog post. But which words in the excerpt above do I hyperlink? I see four plausible contenders:

(1) The whole thing.

(2) "mainstream economists"

(3) "mainstream economists have recognized"

(4) "recognized"

For my article I chose (2), which (incidentally) is not how I would have footnoted this in a written paper. Any thoughts?

7 comments:

  1. Brian N.6:53 AM

    As the syntax of hyper linking is sort of new, we just have to proceed on the experimental "throw the spaghetti until it sticks" method. Options 2 or 4, as I see it, would be fine. Try putting the different options together and look at them, and see if any particular problems with a given style choice jump out at you.

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  2. Anonymous10:31 AM

    The goal, I think: give the user -- and this is a user-interface issue! -- a big enough target that she does not need to work too hard to hit the link with the mouse, but not so big that more than necessary of the text is blue or that a random click just anywhere will follow the link. So how much is that?

    One letter is always too little.

    One small word is usually too little.

    Two or three words is typically good.

    A whole sentence is almost always too much.

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  3. Good point, anonymous. I don't like really long links because I think they're ugly, and because it looks like when students highlight the heck out of their books and so you can no longer distinguish the important from non-important.

    But my point is, I hadn't considered the issue of click accuracy.

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