Hyperlink-text, alt-text and the CMS

Crumpled paper with pen. New web content authors are sometimes mystified about the mechanics of entering link-text and alt-text. Here's a typical letter from a brand new web content author, and my reply.

Hello Rachel,

I have just been given a website to write content for—very convenient timing as I have just completed your course!

1. Hyperlink text. Can I just write the link-text in blue and underline it or do I need to add a website address?

2. Alt-text. The owners of the site are going to put some photos on various pages; will there be a particular spot in which I should write the alt-text?

3. CMS. Does the content management tool that provides the space for alt-text always come with a website or is that an extra program I should purchase?

I have a meeting next week with the client and the web designer, and I will start writing the content at the end of next week.

I have found your course to be extremely helpful and well structured. I've been revising it, and these questions occurred to me.

Kind regards,

Sandra Clark

The Scribe
Sandra Clark
W: thescribe.net.nz
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Hi Sandra

Alice and I are pleased to hear you've immediately been asked to write web content!

As for your questions, it all depends what you're using to write the web content with.

Luckily you're meeting with the web designer and the client very soon. Meantime, I hope this email will prepare you so the right questions are on the tip of your tongue.

As you have deduced, many of our customers write directly into a content management system (CMS), particularly if they are writing for their own employer. If that's the case with you, you'll need a quick tour of the CMS. This will show you where and how to enter both the link-text and the target (the URL, file, or words you're linking to), and also the alt-text.

Do not buy a content management system! Most clients have their own, with access to their particular web sites—there are hundreds on the market.

But you may be writing content in Word for the web developer to convert to HTML. In that case, links are easy. Research how your particular version of Word indicates and creates hyperlinks. It could be, for instance, "Insert: Hyperlinks"—that simple! Experiment and you'll quickly get the hang of it.

As for alt-text, if you do use the client's CMS, the process should be self explanatory: there will be a field to fill in. If you are writing in Word, just include the alt-text, identifying each image by its file name, the page it's on and if necessary its position. You could do that in the same Word document as your web content.

It's much easier than it sounds, I promise—you'll see!



Photo by dolmansaxlil

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