Hyperlinks are links from one hypertext document to another and usually consist of a highlighted word, phrase of image (De Maeyer, 2012). They’re commonly found across nearly all pages on the internet, especially in online articles.

What are hyperlinks?

Hyperlinks allow for online users to navigate from page to page, or to quickly access a new section within the same document. Typically, hyperlinks are blue and underlined, so they stand out from the rest of the paragraph one might be reading. This linked text is referred to as an anchor text and it’s usually different to the texts around it. While blue may be a common colour, purple or darker versions of blue is common too. The colour changes are important to note because the colours are useful to differentiate texts from one another, as well as for individuals to see whether or not they may already have visited the page before.

Although the colour changes are made by the users browser based on the individual’s browsing history (Braggio, 2020), it is also necessary to note that the website itself doesn’t know which pages the individual has visited prior to clicking on the hyperlink (ibid) the reader has already differentiated them. As aforementioned, hyperlinks can be identified by colour, but they may also move or become even more underlined when hovered over. 

The functions of hyperlinks

Hyperlinks serve various functions. They are an important web feature, because the links have the ability to further share and support a message that an author may want a reader to see (ibid). Attaching hyperlinks in an article is a common research and journalistic practice (De Maeyer, 2014). Hyperlinks tell a story, and if you have a limited word capacity then they’re great for linking previous articles to support your evidence.

In addition, they are a useful marketing and search optimization strategy for driving traffic over to other content that has been produced. Hyperlinks are also often a sign of collaboration (Baggio, 2020), which further advances research and journalistic practices. They are also useful for keeping an audience informed as they can also contain various reference mechanisms. These commonly include footnotes, glossaries or even a table of contents but bibliographies are often used too (ibid). 

Although they are commonly used in academia, hyperlinks can also be found across social networking sites and platforms (De Maeyer, 2014). For example, Youtubers often link previous videos that they have uploaded into the current video their audience may be watching. As a result, hyperlinks hold a massive amount of social power; it is a communication strategy (De Maeyer, 2012).

Many (political) organizations tend to do this too, as a way to exercise their power and to further convey a message they believe to be important and it is commonly seen on websites where website owners may link their social media, such as Twitter or Instagram,  so that you can find out more about what they do and stand for on other platforms. It’s an easy way to stay updated with the lives of content creators, and for audiences to build a community online. 


De Maeyer, Juliette 2012. Towards a hyperlinked society: A critical review of link studies. New Media & Society 15 (5), 737-751.

De Maeyer, Juliette 2014. Citation needed. Journalism Practice 8 (5), 532-541.

Baggio, R., & Corigliano, M. A. (2020, January 01). On the Importance of Hyperlinks: A Network Science Approach.