This guideline is a part of the English Wikipedia's Manual of Style.
|Manual of Style (MoS)|
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 editing 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.
"WP:BUILD" redirects here. For the behavioral guideline, see Wikipedia:Here to build an encyclopedia.
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.
[[Riverside, California]], which results in Riverside, California), or piped (
[[Riverside, California|Riverside]], which results in Riverside in the text, but still links to the article "Riverside, California"—although the pipe trick is an easier way to create this particular link).
[[Ireland|Irish]] [[Chess]] [[Championship]](Irish Chess Championship). Consider rephrasing the sentence, omitting one of the links, or using a single, more specific link instead (e.g.
[[Irish Chess Championship]]).
"MOS:UL" redirects here. For unordered lists, see Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Lists § Embedded lists. For underlining, see Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Text formatting § How not to apply emphasis.
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.
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.[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:
[[Elsa (Frozen)|Elsa]], which appears as Elsa and links to the article about the fictional character. Readers should not be directed to disambiguation pages unless there is no other option but to do so.
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.
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.
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.
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.
For links in the first sentence, see Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Lead section § Contextual links.
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.
For example, in the article on supply and demand:
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).
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||Specific (preferred)|
||Icelandic orthography||Related but less specific|
||the flag of Tokelau||Specific (preferred)|
||the flag of Tokelau||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 the two separate links may be misinterpreted as linking to a single article on that topic).
If an existing article has a section specifically about a topic, linking to that section takes the reader directly to the relevant information. Section linking options are piped links, redirects, and the
((Section link)) template.
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 editor seeking to change the section title.
There are some bots aimed to fix broken anchors: User:Cewbot, User:Dexbot, User:FrescoBot.
Main page: Wikipedia:Redirect
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.
Avoid linking redirects that are self links (WP:SELFRED).
Further information: Wikipedia:Piped link
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.
[[apple]]sdisplays as apples, and this is simpler and clearer than
[[red]]dest. Some characters will not work after the link; see Help:Link for more details.
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.
In 1845, the Republic of Texas was annexed by the United States.
and/but implies that the topic of annexation is linked.
In 1845, the [[Texas annexation|Republic of Texas was annexed]] by the United States.
In 1845, the Republic of Texas was annexed by the United States.
and implies that the 1845 event is linked.
Do not place a link to a name within another name. For example:
||→ Columbus Avenue|
|Do not write:||
||→ Columbus Avenue|
||→ Feynman diagram|
|Do not write:||
||→ 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:||
||→ Lafayette Avenue|
See also § Link clarity.
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 editing 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.
Further information: § Section links, Help:Link § Section linking (anchors), and Wikipedia:Redirect § Targeted and untargeted redirects
As explained above, links to sections can take the reader directly to relevant information.
Using a piped link to sections avoids the unsightly Article name#Section name in the display text.
The format for a piped link is
[[Article#Section|name of link]]. For example, to link to the "Culture" subsection of the article Oman, type
[[Oman#Culture|culture of Oman]](note that the section name is case-sensitive),
which displays as culture of Oman. Then add a hidden comment to the target section such as
<!-- The article ArticleName links here. --> so that if another user edits the title of that section, they can fix the incoming links (or, in cases where a section has a large number of incoming links, use
((Anchor)) on the anchor page).
To link to a section within the same article, write:
[[#Promotion to rook or bishop|§ promotion to a rook or bishop]].
Redirects to sections which may become articles.
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. Thus:
[[history of Topic]].
[[Topic#History|history of Topic]].
See Help:Interlanguage links § Inline links.
See also: Wikipedia:Colon trick
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.
[[:Category:Phrases]] links to Category:Phrases, and piping can be used: Phrases.
((See also cat|Phrases)) creates:
See also: Category:Phrases
Main page: Wikipedia:Red link
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 editors 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 editor 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.
In prose, refrain from implementing colored links, as these may impede user ability to distinguish links from regular text. See the guides to editing articles for accessibility at contrast and navbox colors.
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.
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:
[[Timeline of World War II (1942)|1942]]might be linked from another article about WWII.
[[1787 in science|1787]]might be linked from a passage discussing a particular development in the metric system which occurred in that year.
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.
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.
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 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.
<!-- "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:
<!-- "Article" links here -->
Most new articles are created shortly after a corresponding reference to them is entered into the systemSee also Wikipedia:Inflationary hypothesis of Wikipedia growth.