Linking – content pattern

Types of links

In body text on the Acas website, we use links in a few different ways.

CTA links (call to action links)

A CTA (call to action) link tells the user to do something.

The link is:

  • an instruction, beginning with an active verb
  • on its own line

As the whole thing is linked, it's more like a button or list item than a sentence – the text might not make sense as a sentence if it were not a link. So it does not need a full stop.

For example:

Find out more about reasonable adjustments

CTAs actively ask the user to leave a piece of content and to go somewhere else. Use them:

  • at the end of a section
  • where it's important users follow the link to continue their journey
  • sparingly – avoid having lots of CTAs on a single page

Passive links

Passive links help inform the user, but do not instruct them to do something.

The link:

  • is part of a sentence
  • stops before punctuation – for example, do not link a comma or full-stop that follows a linked word

For example:

The employer must make 'reasonable adjustments' for disabled staff.

Passive links do not need to begin with a verb. If you want to instruct the user to do something, use a CTA link.

Lists of links

Consider whether you need each link – do not have long lists of them.

If the user might need to follow a different link depending on their circumstances, you can group CTAs in a list.

Put the action in the preceding line, followed by a colon. This takes the verb out of the link, but is better than having multiple CTAs with the same beginning, one after the other.

Example: two things that are closely related

Find out about:

Example: national guidance

Read the government advice:

Writing links

Well-written, descriptive links are very important for accessibility. They're also good for usability more generally.

Matching the destination

Read the heading of the page you are linking to. When you write the link text, try to use the same words and phrases.

If the heading on the destination page is the same as (or similar to) the link text, it will help reassure the user that they have gone to the right place.

Examples of descriptive links

Linking to the page titled 'Parental leave', a good CTA link might be:

Find out more about parental leave

A less good CTA link might be:

Find out more about taking unpaid leave to look after your child

If the definition is important, you could use it before the link:

You can take unpaid leave to look after your child. This is called 'parental leave'.

Find out more about parental leave

A passive link to the same page might read:

You can take parental leave to look after your child.

Describing actions in CTA links

CTA links begin with an action.

Describe the action the user intends to do when they follow the link.

For example:

  • find out...
  • check if...
  • use the...

Avoid 'see' and 'view' – not everyone will see or view the content. If there is no more descriptive action, you can use 'read'.

External links

If you're linking to another website, you should mention the website or organisation in the link text. Users should not be surprised to leave the Acas website.

For example:

Find out about the symptoms of COVID-19 from the NHS

Find out more about employer's responsibilities on the Health and Safety Executive website

Use the National Minimum Wage and Living Wage calculator on GOV.UK

Duplicate links

Avoid linking to the same destination more than once on a single page.

If you cannot avoid it, make sure you use the same link text. Users might be confused if two differently worded links point to the same page.

Do not use the same link text to link to different destinations.