An element in an electronic document that links to another place in the same document or to an entirely different document is a hyperlink. The World Wide Web is a graphical, platform independent, distributed, decentralized, multi-formatted, interactive, dynamic, nonlinear, immediate, two-way communication medium. The basic mechanism that enables all this is the hypertext link and hyperlink. It is a “jump point” that allows a visitor to jump from a place in a Web page to any other Web page, document, or binary object (a script, graphic, video, and so on) on the Web. Not only can you jump to another Web page, but also you can jump to another place, either in the same Web page or another Web page. Hyperlinks play a big role in the world of HTML creation and the World Wide Web.

Hypertext and Hyperlinks

One of the keys to HTML and to the way the Web works is its support of hypertext links. The term hypertext was coined by computer visionary Ted Nelson in the 1960s. Hypertext is an approach to data management where data are stored in a network of nodes by hyperlinks. The combination of nodes, links, and supporting indexes for any particular topic is a hypertext document. Special HTML commands allow an author to make text “clickable.” Then the user clicks hypertext the web browser typically responds by loading a new web page. But not all links are necessarily text. Images can also be “clickable.” In that case, it’s more appropriate to call the link a hyperlink. The terms are basically interchangeable. When an object (text, picture, music, programs, and so on) is selected one can move from one object to another even though they might have very different forms. 

Hyperlink Elements in the World Wide Web


A particular type of HTML tag is the hyperlink, often represented as bolded or underlined text, or as an image. It is important to recognize the big role that hyperlinks play in the world of HTML. The standard language of the World Wide Web uses for creating and recognizing hypertext documents is the hypertext markup language (HTML). HTML is a series of standard codes and conventions designed to create pages and emphasize text and images for display in programs like Web browsers. HTML defines the specific elements that make up a page – the body of the text, headings, paragraphs, line breaks, text elements, hyperlinks, and so on. HTML is used to define the composition of a Web page, not its appearance. Nearly every page on the Web, ultimately, is in some way linked to every other page. On a smaller scale, hyperlinks make it important for one to consider the organization of a Web page or site. They also make it possible for Web pages to take part in a larger world of related pages. Pointing at a hyperlink allows a person to jump to another Web page, which is the essence of the Web.


Related to hyperlinking, framing is an associational tool that provides a means for dividing a Web site into separate windows, with optional scroll bars and borders. In most cases, Web pages are interlinked by the use of hyperlinks within the framed site allowing for user interaction without leaving the original framed site or opening a new screen. Users can choose from different topics within one of the framed pages within the site by clicking on a hyperlink on one of the framed pages which, in turn, opens a linked Web page within one of the framed portions of the Web site.

Uniform Resource Locators

Every page on the Web (and most other Internet resources) has a special address that uniquely identifies it. Those addresses are called Uniform Resource Locators (URLs). Resources other than Web pages also have URLs, including FTP, Telnet, WAIS, Gopher, and newsgroups. URLs are common hyperlinks within Web pages and documents that allow for faster access to another resource.

Transfer protocols

There are numerous protocols that allow hyperlinks people to change URLs. Hypertext transfer protocol (HTTP) is the protocol most often used by Web browsers to access HTML pages. Other protocols are:

All protocols can be used as a hyperlink.

Social Ramifications and Issues

Hypertext (hyperlinks) allows users to have flexible and speedy access to information in large documents, constructing associations among data items as needed. Hyperlinks encourage people to follow their natural train of thought as they discover information. That is, hypertext works the way people think, allowing them to link facts into sequences of information in ways that resemble those that people use to obtain new knowledge. Hyperlinks are often used in Help systems that allow users to query the software for help or additional information on how a program or system works. Hyperlinks are most commonly used as a means of accessing Web sites and the information contained within them. The hidden codes of hypertext allow users to use a mouse to click on an underlined or highlighted word, phrase, or graphic to automatically access a related site. HTML is how Web pages are written and linked while transfer protocols is how the information is sent over the Web.  The use of hyperlinks have allowed users to locate resources with greater ease allowing for growth of the World Wide Web, better search capabilities, and provided a simple means for computer and internet use to just about anyone.

Related Links

ZDNet is a great site that contains articles related to Internet and computing.


Whatis.com provides search capability to just about any technology related question.


White Papers Search provides white papers to computer topics in numerous areas.


Article from The Journal of Law and Technology with information about hyperlinks, frames, and meta-tags.

Webopedia is a online dictionary and encyclopedia of terms related to Internet and computers.