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Tips

Suppressing Underlined Hypertext

People frequently ask in HTML authoring groups how to suppress the underline that they see on the text of links. The manner in which links are shown is really a browser issue. Some browsers might choose to represent links by displaying them in a 3-d effect box or with a highlighted background. Viewers of HTML documents may have come to 'expect' that an underline indicates a link. Additionally, users with monochrome monitors may have no idea that a link exists, if the underline 'clue' is absent. Suppressing the underline for such viewers would be more confusing than helpful. See the Hypertext Now article as well as Jakob Nielsen's Top Ten Mistakes in Web Design for further discussion of the issues.

The usual CSS caveats include warnings that users may have overridden CSS 'suggestions' by any of several means. If you simply must suggest suppression of the underline, CSS offer the following methods:

In the <HEAD> section of your HTML document, include the following:

 <STYLE TYPE="text/css"><!-- A { text-decoration: none } --></STYLE>

In an external CSS file, or a file imported from it, include the declaration:

 A { text-decoration: none }

For a single suppression of the underline, in your HTML document, include:

 < A STYLE="text-decoration: none" HREF="foo.html">Foo Statistics</A>

Warning: If you have suggested any colors in your CSS, you need to specify color in your declaration for links, as well. It might be helpful to read Warren Steele's essay on ' What's Wrong With<FONT> ', to understand the reason.

A suggestion for CSS enabled browsers (1) which allows normal underlining for unvisited links, and turns off the underlining for visited links:

 <STYLE TYPE="text/css"><!--A:visited { color: navy; text-decoration: none; background: transparent;}A:link { color: teal; text-decoration: underline; background: transparent;}A:active { color: blue; text-decoration: underline; background: transparent;} --></STYLE>

(1) Due to a bug in Netscape 4x CSS implementation, the final declaration takes precedence, overriding all others in the external file. The workaround is to declare inline text-decorations or to use multiple declarations in the external CSS file.

Thanks to ajf for editorial assistance.

People frequently ask in HTML authoring groups how to suppress the underline that they see on the text of links. The manner in which links are shown is really a browser issue. Some browsers might choose to represent links by displaying them in a 3-d effect box or with a highlighted background. Viewers of HTML documents may have come to 'expect' that an underline indicates a link. Additionally, users with monochrome monitors may have no idea that a link exists, if the underline 'clue' is absent. Suppressing the underline for such viewers would be more confusing than helpful. See the Hypertext Now article as well as Jakob Nielsen's Top Ten Mistakes in Web Design for further discussion of the issues.

Sue Sims