Formatting links in the blog – your opinion?

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I’ve just tweaked some of the formatting to make the links a bit more obvious in the text, namely by adding dotted underlines. I still differentiate them by color, but I myself was having trouble seeing the links. The underlining definitely makes things more busy looking, and I’m not sure I like that. Nevertheless, I’ll live with it for a while. An alternative is to get rid of the underlining but be more assertive with the color difference (or by emboldening). If you have any strong opinions on this, please add a comment. Thanks.


  1. I have to say, my eyes are no so great, and I am somewhat color blind, so I can never see the links in your text. I just mouse over where I think a link might be, and if it shows an underline, I know it is really a link. Some additional indication would be great, especially in light of your interest in accesibility.

  2. I prefer the solid line. I also prefer the green color that shows up on a mouse-over, and the little pop-down comments are nice. It would be nice if those were available on everything (even if only to disclose the URL and that it is a link).

    The one problem with dashed underlines is the similarity to a kind of pop-up advertisement that some web sites have attached to under-dotted words. I hate those. You dashed underline isn’t quite the same, but it would be nice to avoid all possible confusion.

    I’ve found that emboldening, or at least emboldening on mouse-over can be very helpful. It may not be that pleasing, but it is definitely helpful if not overdone.

    Generally, I like the openness of your layout and the comfortable font size. If you lightened the page background a bit more, I think it would be easier to discern the text and any differences in text where there are hyperlinks. I notice that it is markedly easier to read the text in the comment form, as I type there, than in the surrounding text on the normal page background.

    PS: If the user selects View | Text Size to get a larger text in the browser, such as IE, the text frame may end up forced to the bottom of the page with some disconcerting black page above. I can’t say about other browsers/versions.

  3. Ben and Dennis,

    Thanks for your comments. I’ve made both the text background and the comment/blockquote elements lighter in each of the RGB dimensions and have also move to all solid underlines in the text. I don’t have the underlines in the sidebar on the left because I think that’s just too busy, plus essentially everything there is a hyperlink. I’ll keep playing with it, trying to make things stand out a bit more when they should indicate a visual clue.


  4. If anything, the few comments that have been already sent show that it’s a mistake to try an impose a style for links, no matter what the style is. I say leave it to the user to decide!

    I personally don’t like the underline and for years I have had my browser set not to underline any links. I like that because it makes the page less crowded and easier to read. Evidently other people, like Ben, have other preferences. So why trying to impose a particular style?

  5. Well, I have things that are links that I don’t want underlined, such as the titles of the post entries and the left sidebar links. If I did all those, I might as well just underline everything! I’m being facetious, but there is some middle ground where I could allow people the personal option of underlining or not, probably the entry text.

  6. OK, flaunting my ignorance, how would I choose to make the links underlined if they were not. I am not a web expert, so I don’t know whether this is a browser option or some other technique.

  7. Assuming the webpage author hasn’t overridden anything (which I do), you can have your browser only underline links when you hover over them. For example, in Firefox you go to Tools | Options | Contents | Colors (in Windows) and check the “Underline Links” box, or not.

    A lot of sites use CSS to control the text-decoration of the links. That’s what I do. So I force the underlining on and off. If you don’t do this and you have a lot of links, many, many things get underlined for people who have them turned on. I’m trying to seek some balance, but I’m not there yet. I’m certainly feeling that I’m seeing too many underlines as it is, though your earlier point about visions and accessibility is well taken. Have the lighter colors helped the contrast any?

  8. I’ve made the text darker and am back on the dotted underlines. I want to keep this relatively light, so will probably fiddle with it some more.

  9. OK, first of all, thank you again. I agree completely with your not underling links on the side (where they are obvious), but unfortunately, what you describe means that Arnaud’s suggestion makes little sense to me. I already have that option checked, but unless I can see that there links to start with, which I have not been able to in your blog, it doesn’t help that much that they underline when I hover over the link. I would rather be able to see the links to start with then to mouse all over the page, searching for them. Please, please do continue to put the links in dotted underline form. My only question is, will that help with links in the posts themselves? (I can’t tell, because you haven’t added any new links recently. When I look at your older posts, the links are not underlined)

  10. All of the text links should be underlined, new or old. I’ll leave the dotted underlines. I like those. Depending on when you looked at the old posts, I might have fiddling with the CSS file. I just checked some from 9 months ago and they were fine.

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