Websites are rarely composed of a single web page. Usually, there are many inter-connected pages, and users navigate between these pages by clicking on links. On the web, a link is something which can be clicked with the mouse in order to re-direct the browser to a new page. Usually, a link is presented as blue, underlined text. Sometimes, a link is a clickable image.

The Anchor Tag

The anchor tag denotes the beginning and end of the clickable content for a link. The content of the anchor tag can be plain text or any inline XHTML element; most commonly, plain text is used, but it is also common to use an image.

The anchor tag has a required attribute, href (short for “Hyperlink Reference”), and the value of this attribute is a URL which represents the destination for the browser when the link is clicked. The anchor tag also supports a special option attribute, target. If the value of target is _blank, the link will be opened in a new browser tab or window.

Tag Name a
Tag Description The anchor tag creates a link, the contents of which will be clickable
Tag Type Paired
Display Type In line
Required Attribute href
Special Attributes target

Note: Like the image tag’s src attribute, the href attribute can accept either an absolute or relative URL. If linking to a different website, include the URL protocol (usually either “http://” or “https://”, this can be copy-pasted from your browser’s address bar) at the beginning to denote that it is an absolute URL.

Example: Plain-text Link

The following code:

    This is a paragraph. This paragraph contains a <a href="">link</a>.

Would produce the following result:

This is a paragraph. This paragraph contains a link.

Example: Image Link in a New Tab

The following code:

    Click the image below to open the NCSU homepage in a new tab.<br/>
    <a href="" target="_blank">
        <img src="images/ncsu.png" alt="NCSU Homepage" />

Would produce the following result:

Click the image below to open the NCSU homepage in a new tab.

nc state banner

Note: For this example to work, you would need an image file called “ncsu.png” to be inside of a folder called “images”, and the folder called “images” would need to be in the same folder that your webpage is stored in.

Email Links

In addition to linking to webpages, the anchor tag can link to an email address. To do this, the value of the href attribute is set to the word “mailto”, followed by a colon, followed by a recipient’s email address. Clicking an email link will cause the user’s email client to launch, with the “compose new message” dialogue already filled in.

Note: Using the target attribute in conjunction with an email link is meaningless.

Another Note: If your computer does not have a default email application, clicking the link will not do anything.

Example: Email Link

The following code:

    Click <a href="">here</a> to email Joe Schmoe.

Would produce the following result:

Click here to email Joe Schmoe.