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Everyone is familiar with what I am talking about though it's easiest to show by example:

Three versions that differ only in how they refer to the linked-to document:

  • The performance of each of the leading web servers was compared in this careful study.

  • The performance of each of the leading web servers was compared in a careful study located here.

  • Nicholas Piel recently published the results of a comparative study of web servers.

I don't claim that the correct answer is one of these three--rather these are just three common implementations to illustrate my Question.

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closed as off topic by Matt Эллен, KitFox, aedia λ, Monica Cellio, simchona Dec 6 '11 at 16:24

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I think this is off topic. This isn't a question about English Language or the use of English. It's a question about writing style, that applies to any language. –  Matt Эллен Dec 6 '11 at 14:58
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I agree that this is off-topic for this site; you may be interested in a similar question on Writers.SE. –  KitFox Dec 6 '11 at 15:05
    
A better fit would be either Writers.SE or UX.SE. –  Monica Cellio Dec 6 '11 at 16:00

5 Answers 5

There is a really nice styleguide about link's text on w3c's site. According to that, your second example is wrong.

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This is the best advice. –  Matt Эллен Dec 6 '11 at 12:11

A rule I remember hearing is that the sentence should make sense with or without the hyperlink.

Following that guideline, both your first and third examples would be appropriate, while your second wouldn't.

To the best of my knowledge, there is no specific rule as to which word you choose to hyperlink. Ask yourself which of the words/phrases is a better description of the linked content and link accordingly.

Additionally, various style guides will have their own specifications, so if you're following a particular style, you should see what the guide says.

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I prefer the third form only from among your examples, and will explain why after mentioning some resources.

The hyperlink style guidelines of wikipedia seem like an intelligent choice for a concensus, but of course are not in force outside of wikipedia. The link clarity section of that page slightly more directly addresses your question; for more discussion see ux.stackexchange question 9247, "When should hyperlink text be used?". The previously-mentioned w3.org "noClickHere" page concisely rules out example 2.

Now about your examples. I suspect most people don't care one way or another; i.e. the true concensus probably is "don't care" and/or "it's all good". That aside, I agree with the guideline mentioned in a previous answer, that "the sentence should make sense with or without the hyperlink". Applying that rule, the second example fails because the "careful study" is not "located here", it is located "there", off at some other website. The first example fails if "this careful study" is mentioned out of the blue, in which case it may seem to mean the webpage it appears within, vs. a study that can be linked to.

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The sentence should be meaningul without the link, which exclueds your second sample. If you want the link to be part of the sentence, then take the word(s) from the sentence that best describe (succinctly!) what the link leads to, and make that your link.

The other option is not to make the link part of the sentence directly by inserting a parenthetical clause or, depending on how the web page layout, by placing a link (image or single word) nearby in such a way that it is clear that it is associated with the sentence.

For example, if you wanted to say Doug asked a question on on the internet about links, the following would be acceptable:

  • Doug asked a question on the internet about links.
  • Doug asked a question on the internet about links.
  • Doug asked a question on the internet about links. (link)

whereas

are less so (although the first 'unaccaptable' sample may be debatable). The important thing is that the sentence should not need to be changed around to accommodate a link.

For a nice example, this EL&U answer has a lot of links, most of which are embedded in directly quoted content (sentence not changed at all, relevant word(s) used for link).

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None of the above answers seems to have considered the fact that ultimately, the original text as it was intended to be (before/ not considering the link), needs to be preserved and respected in its style, content and format.

The performance of each of the leading web servers was compared in this careful study.:
If that was the sentence by the author and the way the author intended it to be.

The performance of each of the leading web servers was compared in a careful study located here.:
This can only happen if the person is trying to do the authoring and linking at the same time and has no clue how to go about it. Many instances can be cited and justifications given, but no reader will be mighty please to see such an ad-hoc text as "here".

Nicholas Piel recently published the results of a comparative study of web servers.
Nicholas Piel recently published the results of a comparative study of web servers.
Nicholas Piel recently published the results of a comparative study of web servers.
Nicholas Piel recently published the results of a comparative study of web servers.
Nicholas Piel recently published the results of a comparative study of web servers.:

All are acceptable and depend entirely on what the author intends to use as the relevant text, PLUS the contextual writing style.

And, hey, these are just my thoughts.

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