Internet > World Wide Web > How It Works >

Web Links

The real power of hypertext becomes evident when readers have the ability to create links. We shall not here discuss the many advantages of writing hypertext over ordinary writing, except to mention that:

  • One never needs to write something twice, or copy it, as a reference will do just as well;
  • Because data is not copied, it is less likely to be out of date;
  • One can represent one's own view of the world, and connect it to other people's data.

- Tim Berners-Lee, et al.; World-Wide Web: An Information Infrastructure for High­Energy Physics; January 1992.

Hypertext links are the threads that interconnect the web. Hypertext was first popularized by Ted Nelson, used by Douglas Engelbart, and implemented by Tim Berners-Lee. A link is also called a uniform resource locator (URL), and is a portion of text or graphic that transfers you to an associated web address when you click on it. The standard web link is underlined and in blue, although the underlining can be turned off and the default colour changed in most browser settings. Browsers sometimes give graphics with links a blue border.

When you click on a link it is recorded in your browser's history file, and then usually changes to a darker blue so you can tell later if you've already visited it. When your cursor passes over a link, most browsers display the address of the linked page is shown on the bottom border of the window. Sometimes you can tell just from the address whether or not you want to visit the link.

Navigation of several links across several pages is called surfing. A link can be to another section of the same page, to another page on the same web site, or to another web page somewhere else on the Internet. When you jump to a new page, you can go back to the page you came from, or click on another link to jump to a new location.

To be helpful, the cursor turns into a hand when you pass it over a graphic containing links. Some pictures contain more than one link, and the x-y position coordinates of the cursor in the graphic may be displayed on the bottom window border, which the web site uses to determine which link in the graphic to select.

Sometimes when you click on a link it opens a new window. You can deliberately open any page in a new window by right-clicking on it and selecting "Open in new window". You can close or minimize a new page and return to the first page whenever you wish.


Living Internet content is (c) Copyright William Stewart