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I look for some general typographic rules (or at least advices) for hyperlinks placed as part of text that can be in both electronic and printed version. Specifically I want to solve these issues:

  1. If a hyperlink is immediately followed by an interpunction (comma, full stop) it is ambiguous if it is the part of the hyperlink or not (especially if monospaced non-underlined style is used for links in printed version). I tend to replace such an interpunction with a space (which is ergonomic for copying in the electronic version), but it breaks rules for interpunctions.

  2. Descenders breaking underline of hyperlinks (p, y etc), which became the default underlining style some years ago, solved the problem of hiding descending parts of glyphs (especially if the underline is fat), but on the other hand if the spaces are narrow, it is sometimes confusing if the broken underline means one or two neighboring links. I tend to use semitransparent solid underline, which also works for printed version of text.

The example of such a confusion: the link(old) - because of the broken underline, one can not be sure at the first glance if it is one old link or two links (new one and old one). Of course there should be space before the opening bracket, but with some fonts and letter spacing this can be a visual problem even with the space.

Hopefully more convincing example of several consecutive links:

for more info, follow these links: decent, but old, biased, newest, recommended In this case I sometimes add square brackets [decent, but old], [biased], [newest, recommended]

Are there some standard ways (or at least consensus) to solve these issues?

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I can't say specifically if there are any rules for these things.
Chances are high that style guide rules for URLs exist.
I haven't checked anything like the Chicago Manual of Style.
(The CMoS link is correct, but it seems their website may be down at the moment.)
The CMoS URL link (which is also down at the moment.)

I should note that there may have been an editor somewhere in my career that started me along this path - made a change regarding how URLs are handled. I've been at this quite a while and many standard methods of editing have simply become ingrained in my work. What may have sparked my initial method has often become long forgotten. I always handle URLs in specific manners. Any editor I work with today never has a problem (meaning they don't mention it), or has agreed with me when I ask if they can address #1 below.


For #1 -- rephrase/rewrite so punctuation is not necessary after a URL

i.e. ...

For more information, visit www.example.com/info.

to

Visit www.example.com/info for more information.

Or offset the URL so punctionation is not necessary...

For more information: www.example.com/info

--------------- or --------------------

As reported at Example.com, there may be big things coming in the future.

to...

As Example.com has reported, there may be big things coming in the future.

Note that Google's material style guide disagrees with me here and simply leaves the URL before end punctuation. However, there are other's who seem to support rephrasing as outlined above.

Some believe nothing needs altering visually for URLs because "people know urls don't end in punctuation". While I can certainly understand that mindset, I don't ascribe to it and prefer to not have punctuation after URLs. It's generally not problematic to merely rephrase a sentence.

Most other references I've seen merely address the functionality in electronic delivery. Things which seem second nature, such as "don't include the punctionation in the hyperlink". This seems abundantly apparent to me as any hyperlink would fail to work properly if punctuation were included.


For #2 -- This has never been a concern in my work. The underline break is visually more pleasing and overall perceived but consciously unregistered by readers. It does not detract from any functionality electronically and simply looks better in print. This is along the same lines as using camel case within a URL to add some visual distinction when a url contains multiple words - most often no functionality difference, but easier to read.

I'm afraid an example of what you think may be problematic may help address #2 more.

ADDED: I do not personally feel there's any visual confusion regarding the underline break as in the example you've added. I think, perhaps, you may be overthinking that aspect or are too close and are overly concerned with something 99.9% of readers would never notice. The proximity of the glyphs and the continuation of the underline generally causes the parts to still be seen as one. If there's color, as above, that merely cements the unified perception.

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  • Thanks for the answer Scott, I added the example in my question. The rephrasing is a good way to evade the issue, I'd like to solve it technically. The interpunction (mostly dots) are quite common in query strings. The trailing dot is rare or neverused, but legal in URI, I believe.
    – Jan Turoň
    May 11, 2021 at 0:03
  • I tried to add a better example. You are right that in most cases with careful reading it is visually possible to separate the links, I just struggle to make it more comfortable for readers. The link you provided seems exhaustive, I am having issues to log in to see the contents at the moment, I will try later.
    – Jan Turoň
    May 11, 2021 at 0:23
  • I think the brackets are an excellent way of handing the inter-punctuation @JanTuroň -- And the CMoS site is.. well... not always the easiest. As you can tell, for me, it was completely down earlier today. And it can often throw up a paywall to see answers. This is somewhat why I tried to provide links beyond merely the CMoS site.
    – Scott
    May 11, 2021 at 0:25
  • So CMoS works today, they recommend angle brackets and I like the idea since people traditionally use it in e-mail addresses. I find their concern about collision with "some markup languages" weak as the only relevant language today is HTML and we have HTML entities (CDATA if somebody sticks with more or less obsolete XML) and templates are generally not based on angle brackets.
    – Jan Turoň
    May 11, 2021 at 11:19

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