Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.

Sometimes, it's as easy as typing or pasting in the link. If that doesn't work, another simple step may be necessary.

How can I send a hyperlink in email?

In this excerpt from Answercast #21, I walk through the steps necessary to send a hyperlink in an email.

Sending a hyperlink

This is actually a surprisingly common question.

The short version is that most of the time, it is sufficient for you to simply type or paste in the link.

As long as there's text in your email that starts with http:// – and then has a domain name (like ask-leo.com), that's enough.

You don't really need to do much of anything else. The reason is not because you've done something special on your side when you sent the mail, but because most email programs, when they see something that looks like a link, will automatically turn it into something clickable.

So there's no real work to do on your part.

Hyperlink in HTML

Now, if you're adding a link to HTML email, you should be looking for the controls in the toolbar that allow you to do that.

When you're editing HTML email (this, of course, will vary dramatically depending on what email web service that you happen to be using), most of the time...

  • Across the top of the edit box where you're typing in your email will be a small toolbar that contains a number of icons including things for bold and italics and maybe setting color and so forth.

  • One of those icons will look, kind of, like a link: a link in a chain. That's the icon, the Toolbar button, to click on to insert a link to where you're at.

You'll typically be asked for two things:

  1. You'll be asked for the URL; in other words, that http:// thing that I just talked about.
  2. You'll also be asked to enter the text that should be displayed for that URL.

When that URL is displayed in the email, in reality, it's the text that is displayed and when they click on it, they will go to that link.

Text highlighted by a URL

So, for example, you might enter in "http://ask-leo.com" for the URL, and then for the text, you might type in "Visit Ask Leo!"

When the email is constructed (when you actually hit OK on the little dialog that would enter that into your email), what your email will look like is the words Visit Ask Leo! with an underline (or otherwise highlighted) to indicate that's a link. Like this:

When your recipient clicks on this Visit Ask Leo!, they would then be taken to http://ask-leo.com.

It's easy

So those are the two most common ways, very little to be done. Typically, it's all taken care of at the receiving end.

If you're having a specific problem where situations aren't working, I'd actually need to know significant details about the scenario you're encountering: the email program that you're using, how you're crafting your email, whether it's rich text or plain text, which recipient is not seeing the link, what email program they're using, and so forth. But ultimately, in general, it just works.

Article C5392 - May 27, 2012 « »

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Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

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3 Comments
Dan
May 29, 2012 8:58 AM

One gotcha that can get you, is where is this hyperlink pointing. If it is something created inside your firewall with no access to the outside world, it won't do any good to send out the hyperlink, because nobody else will be able to see it. We have that problem here at work. We have an intranet set up with a lot of information, and sometimes users don't understand and try to send an internal link to someone on the outside and wonder why they can't see it. Or someone is learning how to set up a web page, and is doing it internal to their own system, and sends a link to their friends so they can take a look at it, but the firewall keeps them from seeing it.

Glenn P.,
May 29, 2012 11:24 AM

Another important "gotcha" -- contructing links in PLAIN TEXT!!!

That can take some doing. The syntax must be precise (we ARE dealing with COMPUTERS, after all) or it just won't work right!

Here's the basic form. Copy it down to use as a template for future reference:

       <a target="_blank" href="http://ask-leo.com"> Visit Ask Leo! </a>

Again, as Leo showed us above, http://ask-leo.com is the website you're sending your correspondents to; the text "Visit Ask Leo!" is the clickable link that will be visible on the screen.

Notice the <a target="_blank" href=" that precedes, and the "> that follows, the website; and notice, too, the </a> that follows everything else. These are NECESSARY.

In other words, plug the website between the quotes, and the "link text" between the first > and the second <.

Hope this helps!   :)

Glenn P.,
May 29, 2012 11:32 AM

Important NOTE: I did NOT include the "Target=blank" in the above link! That was apparently inserted automatically by your system (and about time, BTW! -- no more being taken off the current page when you click a user-entered link!). "Target=blank" is an advanced feature that I intentionally omitted from my instructions. Oh, well. Including it does no harm, except to make my instructions harder for those I address to understand!

One word of warning -- not all mailers (or web forums) will accept links with "Target=Blank" in them. If you find that yours doesn't, simply omit it. The link will work fine without it.

Oh yes -- you DO want to know what "Target=Blank" DOES? It opens the link in a new, separate page, rather than taking you away from the page you're already on. That's all.

Again, hope this helps!

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