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Tutorials | The <a> Anchor Tag

HTML: The <a> Anchor Tag

The anchor <a> tag is a container tag and requires an end tag </a> to complete its format. It is commonly used in conjunction with various attributes to create hypertext and hypermedia links to:

  • a page on your Web site
  • other sections of a Web page
  • another Web site
  • an email address

Here is how you use the <a> tag to set up a basic text link:

<a href="url">descriptive text</a>

The words "descriptive text" above, would be displayed in the browser in a different color (usually blue) and underlined, to signal it is a hypertext link.

Linking to a Page on Your Web Site

If the page you are linking to is located in the same folder or directory as the page that contains the link, you should use a relative URL and specify just the name of the Web page.

<a href="rates.html">Compare our prices</a>

However, if the Web page is in a subfolder, then the relative URL must contain the name of the folder as well as the name of the Web page.

<a herf="services/rates.html">Compare our prices</a>

Linking to Other Sections of a Web Page

This feature is useful on a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page, a Table of Contents (TOC) page or a long page with different sections which you may want users to jump to quickly. Two steps are required.

  1. Use only letters or numbers to name (or anchor) the area of the page where you want to direct your viewers, by combining the <A> tag with the NAME attribute.
  2. Create a hyperlink to that particular area at the specific point you want your user to select the link.
  3. Create a hyperlink to that particular area at the specific point from which you want your user to select the link.

<a href="top">Top</a> (place at destination)
<a name="#top">Back to Top</a> (link to destination)

You can link to more than one section of the same page. Just make sure to give each section a different name.

A popular use for this link feature is at the end of a long Web page, to return the viewer to the top of the page.

Click for a live demonstration: Jump to Top

Linking to Another Web Site

If the HTML document you want to link to resides on a completely different Web site, you need to use an absolute URL like:

<a href="">Web Business Blueprint</a>

The above link will say Web Business Blueprint and will take you to the website

Linking to an Email Address

Creating a link to an email address is accomplished in the following manner:

<a href="">Email Me</a>

The link will appear like this – Email Me – and when clicked will open your email program's "Write Mail" window in your browser.

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