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How do I send a link in email?


I am having trouble discovering how to send a hyperlink in an email so that
the email recipient can simply click on and open the hyperlink from the email
message. Additionally, I’d like to be able to place hyperlinks in a word
document so I can click on it and have it open from the word document.

You’re asking a question that email newsletter publishers have been asking
in frustration for a long time. The problem is that 90% of the time it’s simple
and it just works.

The other 10% of the time has us pulling our hair out.

The problem is that it all depends on the email program that’s used to read
the email.

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The 90% Case

In plain-text formatted email, all you need to do most of the time is
include the full URL in your email. For example:

Visit to get your tech questions answered.

Will, when displayed by most email clients automatically
notice that there’s a URL beginning with “http://” and make it clickable:

Visit to get your tech questions

“The best we can hope for is to get it to
work for most people.”

In otherwords, you need do nothing special.

In HTML email most of the time all you need do is include the HTML for a
link. So you might include in your HTML:

Visit <a
href=””></a> to get your tech
questions answered.

And the recipient of the email will usually see:

Visit to get
your tech questions answered.

Now, the “caveat” here is that depending on what email program you
are using to compose your email, you may or may not be able to enter the HTML
directly as I’ve shown above. You’ll need to check. In most cases if you can’t
edit the raw HTML, but the email program will provide an “insert link” function
instead which will do the same thing.

The 10% Hair-loss Case

Everything I’ve described so far can fail for a number of reasons, all of
which depend on the capabilities of your recipient. In other words it’s nothing
you have control over.

  • Some email programs don’t automatically hight URLs in plain text emails, or
    users can turn off that feature.

  • Some email programs display HTML formatted email as plain text,
    turning off all of the features of HTML including links.

  • Some email programs disable clickable links from unknown sources. Adding the
    sender to the recipient’s “trusted” list or address book can sometimes resolve

  • Some email programs react to a different delimiter to identify a link. For example, AOL
    was notorious for not recognizing “”, but
    rather “<>”. Unfortunately the later would not be
    recognized by other mail programs, so publishers often included both.

The list goes on.

There’s no 100% solution. Someone, somewhere will not be able to “just
click” on a link and have it work. The best we can hope for is to get it to
work for most people.

The approach I use in my newsletter is three-fold:

  • Links are included in HTML.

  • Below the HTML link, the link is included again as if it were in plain

So a link to an article might look like this:

Read More:
Internet Safety: How do I keep my computer safe on the internet?

I believe that puts me in the 95% bucket.

The “third” way is simply that folks who view my email newsletter in plain
text get a different message altogether:

If you’re
seeing this, your email program is configured to view only
“plain text” emails, or prefer the “plain text” versions of email.

You can view this weeks newsletter either:

– by switching to an HTML view in your email program


– visiting which will have the
this week’s newsletter, ready for you to view.

Needless to say when they visit the archived copy of the newsletter on the
web, the links all work.

Do this

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13 comments on “How do I send a link in email?”

  1. The way I have found around this is to add a character to the beginning of the address (such as a 1) and then paste the address. I add instructions to remove the 1 and then it works just fine, Just variation of the plain text but, I have it yet to fail. Just my 2 cents.

  2. Hello Leo,

    You have a highly informative newsletter.

    I have a question, I recently signed up for a windows live hotmail account and cannot understand why I cannot make a right click on the editing area so I can copy and paste a url or a link which I would like to send to a friend. What is also strange is that the icon where you are supposed to insert a link is greyed out, which means you cannot even insert a link using this facility!

    I would appreciate your input.




  3. If you want to send a webpage link like yours you can open it in your browser and just right click on it and there should be an option to send the page link by mail.

    I use Opera and right-clicking gives me the option ‘Send Link by mail’ which automatically opens up the integrated email client with th link formated as > . I guess how it comes out on the other end is always debatable.

  4. Leo,

    So, in the first plain text example, how did you prevent the HTTP URL string from being automatically converted into a clickable LINK by Outlook Express? And, why did you make me ask (you old tease?)

    Carl Voelz
    Avid Newsletter Reader

    Hash: SHA1

    This is a web page, not an email viewed in Outlook Express. So I just coded it
    in HTML, and your web browser did what it was told.

    Or am I missing something about your question.

    Version: GnuPG v1.4.6 (MingW32)


  6. Here’s my two pence worth.
    If you use Outlook with Word as your email editor, right-clicking any section of your email (a word, sentence, embedded picture, whatever) gives an add Hyperlink… option – so you can add a hyperlink to anything.
    You can’t do this with Outlook’s own HTML editor.
    I know Leo will tell me using Word as email editor in Outlook is overkill but this very useful tool is one of the reasons I do.
    Zap, Leeds, UK

  7. @Richy
    It could be a problem with the email program you use. Thunderbird generally does a good job in creating links from a url. Most webmails also do it automatically.


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