Click here?

Subject: Click here?
From: "Hart, Geoff" <Geoff-H -at- MTL -dot- FERIC -dot- CA>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 4 Jan 2001 16:20:24 -0500

Tanya Owens is developing <<... web based training, and throughout the
training I advise the learner to "Click here" to access additional
information. For instance "Click here to go to the top of the page." ... A
co-worker claims that "Click here" is archaic, that I should just say "Top"
and "Navigation Tips.">>

It's hard for me to imagine anything less than 20 years old as being
"archaic", though I confess to being old enough (pushing 40) to consider
"archaic" as referring only to things older than me. <g> It's certainly
likely that most users will recognize the standard hyperlinking convention
of underlined words (e.g., _underlined_) or links set aside in a special
navigation bar, but whether that's true in your case will depend on your
specific audience. If you're in any doubt, make sure lesson 1 provides
instructions on "how to navigate", and make that lesson optional for those
who already know how to mouse their way around.

I'm generally comfortable with hyperlinks that simply read "More
information", with the underlining meaning "click here to get..." But this
can be awfully terse within running text, and it works better for a
navigation button or list of links that stand alone, outside the text. You
can generally write your way ever so elegantly around the need to be
explicit by using a phrase such as "more information appears in _Appendix
1_". Where that works, there's certainly no need to say "click here". Where
the flow of the text requires something more overt, the occasional "click
here", archaic though it may be to those who grew up measuring time in
Internet years, may be perfectly suitable.

--Geoff Hart, FERIC, Pointe-Claire, Quebec
geoff-h -at- mtl -dot- feric -dot- ca
"User's advocate" online monthly at

"Technical writing... requires understanding the audience, understanding
what activities the user wants to accomplish, and translating the often
idiosyncratic and unplanned design into something that appears to make
sense."--Donald Norman, The Invisible Computer

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