Anatomy, Grammar, Syntax & Taxonomy of a Hyperlink

Hyperlinks make the World Wide Web what it is. If links did not exist, EVERY web page would be a stand alone. Let’s take a close look at these “clickable thingies” ūüôā


I¬† like the metaphor of thinking of hyperlinks as the “wormholes”, that transport us from one section of the universe to another, which is being mentioned on the Web Writing Style Guide 1.0 on the site:

While U. S. Senator Ted Stevens‚Äô metaphor of the Internet as a series of tubes (2006) is inaccurate, we can reasonably think of hyperlinks as the paths (or if you want to get sci-fi geeky: wormholes) through which we travel across the World Wide Web. Click a link and almost instantaneously you will move to a new page within a web site or‚ÄĒseemingly magically‚ÄĒto some new website hosted half way around the globe. In fact, the importance of hyperlinks cannot be overstated; there is no web without hyperlinks connecting one text to another (or more often, one text to many).

Hyperlinks make a word or a series of words “clickable”. Traditionally they underline the chosen word or phrase and are recognized by changing the font color to blue. Themes and other formatting of website¬† can change the appearance of links. [Langwitches blog currently uses a theme that turns the “clickable” word or phrase to a bold format (not blue nor underlined).]

Many educators struggle to make the transition from writing on paper, traditional student journals or worksheets to an online platform (ex. blogs or wikis)¬† for themselves and for their students. Ann Davis‚Äô says ‚ÄúIt is not just a matter of transferring classroom writing into digital spaces‚ÄĚ. I wholeheartedly agree with her.

They struggle because writing in digital spaces is a different than writing on a physical piece of paper.¬† Most of them struggle, due to the lack of knowledge and practice¬† of reading and writing in digital spaces on their own part. Let’s become aware of the use AND quality of hyperlinks as we read and surf the web.

Tip: Take a closer look at this blog post you are reading right now on Langwitches. You will see hyperlinks sprinkled across the post. I have included  different levels of links from the Hyperlink Taxonomy. Are you aware of the hyperlinks? Can you find and classify the different ones?

There are three aspects of a hyperlink that I want to pay close attention to:

  1. the anatomy (the bodily structure) of a hyperlink
  2. the grammar & syntax (a particular analysis of a system and structure of language and the arrangement of words and phrases to create well-formed sentences in a language)
  3. the taxonomy (the classification) of a hyperlink





One of the faux pas, I often see in hyperlinked writing, are “grammatical¬† and syntax” errors in expressing a well formed sentence while including hyperlinks.


Hyperlinking goes well beyond simply adding “clickable words” to an otherwise static, unilateral, linear, one dimensional and disconnected text. Critical thinking and strategy skills are needed to include “higher order hyperlinks. A digital writer can

  • emphasize (point their readers) to a virtual place or connect them to a specific idea and concept by choosing what kind of link to place in their hyperlinked text.
  • mix form and content to open up¬† different dimensions, making their writing non-linear, multi-layered and connected.
  • use the hyperlink as a medium to convey her/his own train of thought




Download the Makeup of a Hyperlink as a pdf file.

I am open to changes, additions to this first attempt to create a Taxonomy of Hyperlinked Writing. Please help continue to develop it by adding, questioning or tweaking.