<a>: The Anchor element

The HTML <a> element (or anchor element), with its href attribute, creates a hyperlink to web pages, files, email addresses, locations in the same page, or anything else a URL can address.Content within each <a> should indicate the link's destination.

Attributes

This element's attributes include the global attributes.

downloadHTML5
Prompts the user to save the linked URL instead of navigating to it. Can be used with or without a value:
  • Without a value, the browser will suggest a filename/extension, generated from various sources:
  • Defining a value suggests it as the filename. / and \ characters are converted to underscores (_). Filesystems may forbid other characters in filenames, so browsers will adjust the suggested name if necessary.
Notes:
  • download only works for same-origin URLs, or the blob: and data: schemes.
  • If Content-Disposition has a different filename than download, the header takes priority. (If Content-Disposition: inline, Firefox prefers the header while Chrome prefers download.)
href

The URL that the hyperlink points to. Links are not restricted to HTTP-based URLs — they can use any URL scheme supported by browsers:

  • Sections of a page with fragment URLs
  • Pieces of media files with media fragments
  • Telephone numbers with tel: URLs
  • Email addresses with mailto: URLs
  • While web browsers may not support other URL schemes, web sites can with registerProtocolHandler()
hreflang
Hints at the human language of the linked URL. No built-in functionality. Allowed values are the same as the global lang attribute.
ping
A space-separated list of URLs. When the link is followed, the browser will send POST requests with the body PING to the URLs. Typically for tracking.
referrerpolicy
How much of the referrer to send when following the link. See Referrer-Policy for possible values and their effects.
rel
The relationship of the linked URL as space-separated link types.
target
Where to display the linked URL, as the name for a browsing context (a tab, window, or <iframe>). The following keywords have special meanings for where to load the URL:
  • _self: the current browsing context. (Default)
  • _blank: usually a new tab, but users can configure browsers to open a new window instead.
  • _parent: the parent browsing context of the current one. If no parent, behaves as _self.
  • _top: the topmost browsing context (the "highest" context that’s an ancestor of the current one). If no ancestors, behaves as _self.

Note: When using target, add rel="noreferrer noopener" to avoid exploitation of the window.opener API;

Note: Linking to another page with target="_blank" will run the new page in the same process as your page. If the new page executes JavaScript, your page's performance may suffer. This can also be avoided by using rel="noreferrer noopener".

type
Hints at the linked URL’s format with a MIME type. No built-in functionality.

Obsolete attributes

charsetObsolete since HTML5
Hinted at the character encoding of the linked URL.

Note: This attribute is obsolete and should not be used by authors. Use the HTTP Content-Type: header on the linked URL.

coordsObsolete since HTML5
Used with the shape attribute. A comma-separated list of coordinates.
nameObsolete since HTML5
Was required to define a possible target location in a page. In HTML 4.01, id and name could both be used on <a>, as long as they had identical values.

Note: Use the global attribute id instead.

revObsolete since HTML5
Specified a reverse link; the opposite of the rel attribute. Deprecated for being very confusing.
shapeObsolete since HTML5
The shape of the hyperlink’s region in an image map.
Note: Use the <area> element for image maps instead.

Properties

Content categories Flow content, phrasing content, interactive content, palpable content.
Permitted content Transparent, containing either flow content (excluding interactive content) or phrasing content.
Tag omission None, both the starting and ending tag are mandatory.
Permitted parents Any element that accepts phrasing content, or any element that accepts flow content, but not other <a> elements.
Permitted ARIA roles button, checkbox, menuitem, menuitemcheckbox, menuitemradio, option, radio, switch, tab, treeitem
DOM interface HTMLAnchorElement

Examples

Linking to an absolute URL

HTML

<a href="https://www.mozilla.com">
  Mozilla
</a>

Result

Linking to relative URLs

HTML

<a href="//example.com">Scheme-relative URL</a>
<a href="/en-US/docs/Web/HTML">Origin-relative URL</a>
<a href="./p">Directory-relative URL</a>

Result

Linking to an element on the same page

<!-- Links to this very section -->
<a href="#Linking_to_an_element_on_the_same_page">
  Description of Same-Page Links
</a>

Note: You can use href="#top" or the empty fragment (href="#") to link to the top of the current page, as defined in the HTML specification.

Linking to an email address

To create links that open in the user's email program to let them send a new message, use the mailto: scheme:

<a href="mailto:nowhere@mozilla.org">Send email to nowhere</a>

For details about mailto: URLs, such as including a subject or body, see Email links or RFC 6068.

Linking to telephone numbers

<a href="tel:+49.157.0156">+49 157 0156</a>
<a href="tel:+1(555)5309">(555) 5309</a>

tel: link behavior varies with device capabilities:

  • Cellular devices autodial the number.
  • Most operating systems have programs that can make calls, like Skype or FaceTime.
  • Websites can make phone calls with registerProtocolHandler, such as web.skype.com.
  • Other behaviors include saving the number to contacts, or sending the number to another device.

See RFC 3966 for syntax, additional features, and other details about the tel: URL scheme.

Using the download attribute to save a <canvas> as a PNG

To save a <canvas> element’s contents as an image, you can create a link with a download attribute and the canvas data as a data: URL:

HTML
<p>Paint by holding down the mouse button and moving it.
  <a href="" download="my_painting.png">Download my painting</a>
</p>

<canvas width="300" height="300"></canvas>
CSS
html {
  font-family: sans-serif;
}
canvas {
  background: #fff;
  border: 1px dashed;
}
a {
  display: inline-block;
  background: #69c;
  color: #fff;
  padding: 5px 10px;
}
JavaScript
var canvas = document.querySelector('canvas'),
    c = canvas.getContext('2d');
c.fillStyle = 'hotpink'; 

function draw(x, y) {
  if (isDrawing) {
    c.beginPath();
    c.arc(x, y, 10, 0, Math.PI*2);
    c.closePath();
    c.fill();
  }
}

canvas.addEventListener('mousemove', event =>
  draw(event.offsetX, event.offsetY)
);
canvas.addEventListener('mousedown', () => isDrawing = true);
canvas.addEventListener('mouseup', () => isDrawing = false);

document.querySelector('a').addEventListener('click', event =>
  event.target.href = canvas.toDataURL()
);
Result

Security and privacy

<a> elements can have consequences for users’ security and privacy. See Referer header: privacy and security concerns for information.

Using target="_blank" without rel="noreferrer" and rel="noopener" makes the website vulnerable to window.opener API exploitation attacks (vulnerability description).

Accessibility

The content inside a link should indicate where the link goes, even out of context.

A sadly common mistake is to only link the words “click here” or “here”:

<p>
  Learn more about our products <a href="/products">here</a>.
</p>

Luckily, this is an easy fix, and it’s actually shorter than the inaccessible version!

<p>
  Learn more <a href="/products">about our products</a>.
</p>

Assistive software have shortcuts to list all links on a page. However, strong link text benefits all users — the “list all links” shortcut emulates how sighted users quickly scan pages.

onclick events

Anchor tags are often abused as fake buttons by setting their href to "#" or "javascript:void(0)" to prevent the page from refreshing, then listening for their click events .

These bogus href values cause unexpected behavior when copying/dragging links, opening links in a new tab/window, bookmarking, or when JavaScript is loading, errors, or is disabled. They also convey incorrect semantics to assistive technologies, like screen readers.

Use a <button> instead. In general, you should only use a hyperlink for navigation to a real URL.

Links that open in a new tab/window via target="_blank", or links that point to a download file should indicate what will happen when the link is followed.

People experiencing low vision conditions, navigating with the aid of screen reading technology, or with cognitive concerns may be confused when a new tab, window, or application opens unexpectedly. Older screen-reading software may not even announce the behavior.

<a target="_blank" href="https://www.wikipedia.org">
  Wikipedia (opens in new tab)
</a>
<a href="2017-annual-report.ppt">
  2017 Annual Report (PowerPoint)
</a>

If an icon is used to signify link behavior, make sure it has alt text:

<a  target="_blank" href="https://www.wikipedia.org">
  Wikipedia
  <img alt="(opens in new tab)" src="newtab.svg">
</a>

<a href="2017-annual-report.ppt">
  2017 Annual Report 
  <img alt="(PowerPoint file)" src="ppt-icon.svg">
</a>

A skip link is a link placed as early as possible in <body> content that points to the beginning of the page's main content. Usually, CSS hides a skip link offscreen until focused.

<body>
  <a href="#content">Skip to main content</a>

  <header>
    …
  </header>

  <main id="content"> <!-- The skip link jumps to here -->
.skip-link {
  position: absolute;
  top: -3em;
  background: #fff;
}
.skip-link:focus {
  top: 0;
}

Skip links let keyboard users bypass content repeated throughout multiple pages, such as header navigation.

Skip links are especially useful for people who navigate with the aid of assistive technology such as switch control, voice command, or mouth sticks/head wands, where the act of moving through repetitive links can be laborious.

Size and proximity

Size

Interactive elements, like links, should provide an area large enough that it is easy to activate them. This helps a variety of people, including those with motor control issues and those using imprecise inputs such as a touchscreen. A minimum size of 44×44 CSS pixels is recommended.

Text-only links in prose content are exempt from this requirement, but it’s still a good idea to make sure enough text is hyperlinked to be easily activated.

Proximity

Interactive elements, like links, placed in close visual proximity should have space separating them. Spacing helps people with motor control issues, who may otherwise accidentally activate the wrong interactive content.

Spacing may be created using CSS properties like margin.

Specifications

Specification Status Comment
Referrer Policy
The definition of 'referrer attribute' in that specification.
Candidate Recommendation Added the referrerpolicy attribute.
HTML Living Standard
The definition of '<a>' in that specification.
Living Standard
HTML5
The definition of '<a>' in that specification.
Recommendation
HTML 4.01 Specification
The definition of '<a>' in that specification.
Recommendation

Browser compatibility

Update compatibility data on GitHub
DesktopMobile
ChromeEdgeFirefoxInternet ExplorerOperaSafariAndroid webviewChrome for AndroidFirefox for AndroidOpera for AndroidSafari on iOSSamsung Internet
aChrome Full support YesEdge Full support YesFirefox Full support Yes
Notes
Full support Yes
Notes
Notes Starting with Firefox 41, <a> without href attribute is no longer classified as interactive content: clicking it inside <label> will activate labelled content (bug 1167816).
IE Full support YesOpera Full support YesSafari Full support YesWebView Android Full support YesChrome Android Full support YesFirefox Android Full support Yes
Notes
Full support Yes
Notes
Notes Starting with Firefox 41, <a> without href attribute is no longer classified as interactive content: clicking it inside <label> will activate labelled content (bug 1167816).
Opera Android Full support YesSafari iOS Full support YesSamsung Internet Android Full support Yes
charset
Deprecated
Chrome Full support YesEdge Full support YesFirefox Full support YesIE Full support YesOpera Full support YesSafari Full support YesWebView Android Full support YesChrome Android Full support YesFirefox Android Full support YesOpera Android Full support YesSafari iOS Full support YesSamsung Internet Android Full support Yes
coords
Deprecated
Chrome No support NoEdge No support NoFirefox No support ? — 58
Notes
No support ? — 58
Notes
Notes You can no longer nest an <a> element inside a <map> element to create a hotspot region - coords and shape attribute support removed.
IE No support NoOpera No support NoSafari No support NoWebView Android No support NoChrome Android No support NoFirefox Android No support ? — 58
Notes
No support ? — 58
Notes
Notes You can no longer nest an <a> element inside a <map> element to create a hotspot region - coords and shape attribute support removed.
Opera Android No support NoSafari iOS No support NoSamsung Internet Android No support No
downloadChrome Full support 14
Notes
Full support 14
Notes
Notes Starting in Chrome 65, cross-origin downloads are not supported on the <a> element.
Edge Full support 18
Full support 18
Partial support 13
Notes
Notes Until Edge 14 (build 14357), attempting to download data URIs caused Edge to crash (bug 7160092).
Notes Edge 17 or older didn't follow the attributes' value to determine filename (bug 7260192).
Firefox Full support 20IE No support NoOpera Full support 15Safari Full support 10.1WebView Android Full support Yes
Notes
Full support Yes
Notes
Notes Starting in WebView 65, cross-origin downloads are not supported on the <a> element.
Chrome Android Full support 18
Notes
Full support 18
Notes
Notes Starting in Chrome 65, cross-origin downloads are not supported on the <a> element.
Firefox Android Full support 20Opera Android ? Safari iOS No support NoSamsung Internet Android Full support 1.0
Notes
Full support 1.0
Notes
Notes Starting in Samsung Internet 9.0, cross-origin downloads are not supported on the <a> element.
hrefChrome Full support YesEdge Full support YesFirefox Full support YesIE Full support YesOpera Full support YesSafari Full support YesWebView Android Full support YesChrome Android Full support YesFirefox Android Full support YesOpera Android Full support YesSafari iOS Full support YesSamsung Internet Android Full support Yes
hreflangChrome Full support YesEdge Full support YesFirefox Full support YesIE Full support YesOpera Full support YesSafari Full support YesWebView Android Full support YesChrome Android Full support YesFirefox Android Full support YesOpera Android Full support YesSafari iOS Full support YesSamsung Internet Android Full support Yes
name
Deprecated
Chrome Full support YesEdge Full support YesFirefox Full support YesIE Full support YesOpera Full support YesSafari Full support YesWebView Android Full support YesChrome Android Full support YesFirefox Android Full support YesOpera Android Full support YesSafari iOS Full support YesSamsung Internet Android Full support Yes
ping
Experimental
Chrome Full support YesEdge No support NoFirefox Full support Yes
Disabled
Full support Yes
Disabled
Disabled This feature is behind the browser.send_pings preference (needs to be set to true). To change preferences in Firefox, visit about:config.
IE No support NoOpera Full support YesSafari No support NoWebView Android Full support YesChrome Android Full support YesFirefox Android Full support Yes
Disabled
Full support Yes
Disabled
Disabled This feature is behind the browser.send_pings preference (needs to be set to true). To change preferences in Firefox, visit about:config.
Opera Android ? Safari iOS No support NoSamsung Internet Android Full support Yes
referrerpolicyChrome Full support 51Edge No support NoFirefox Full support 50IE No support NoOpera Full support 38Safari Full support 11.1WebView Android Full support 51Chrome Android Full support 51Firefox Android Full support 50Opera Android Full support 41Safari iOS No support NoSamsung Internet Android Full support 7.2
relChrome Full support YesEdge Full support YesFirefox Full support YesIE Full support YesOpera Full support YesSafari Full support YesWebView Android Full support YesChrome Android Full support YesFirefox Android Full support YesOpera Android Full support YesSafari iOS Full support YesSamsung Internet Android Full support Yes
rev
Deprecated
Chrome Full support YesEdge Full support YesFirefox Full support YesIE Full support YesOpera Full support YesSafari Full support YesWebView Android Full support YesChrome Android Full support YesFirefox Android Full support YesOpera Android Full support YesSafari iOS Full support YesSamsung Internet Android Full support Yes
shape
Deprecated
Chrome No support NoEdge No support NoFirefox No support ? — 58
Notes
No support ? — 58
Notes
Notes You can no longer nest an <a> element inside a <map> element to create a hotspot region - coords and shape attribute support removed.
IE No support NoOpera No support NoSafari No support NoWebView Android No support NoChrome Android No support NoFirefox Android No support ? — 58
Notes
No support ? — 58
Notes
Notes You can no longer nest an <a> element inside a <map> element to create a hotspot region - coords and shape attribute support removed.
Opera Android No support NoSafari iOS No support NoSamsung Internet Android No support No
targetChrome Full support YesEdge Full support YesFirefox Full support YesIE Full support YesOpera Full support YesSafari Full support YesWebView Android Full support YesChrome Android Full support YesFirefox Android Full support YesOpera Android Full support YesSafari iOS Full support YesSamsung Internet Android Full support Yes
typeChrome Full support YesEdge Full support YesFirefox Full support YesIE Full support YesOpera Full support YesSafari Full support YesWebView Android Full support YesChrome Android Full support YesFirefox Android Full support YesOpera Android Full support YesSafari iOS Full support YesSamsung Internet Android Full support Yes

Legend

Full support  
Full support
No support  
No support
Compatibility unknown  
Compatibility unknown
Experimental. Expect behavior to change in the future.
Experimental. Expect behavior to change in the future.
Deprecated. Not for use in new websites.
Deprecated. Not for use in new websites.
See implementation notes.
See implementation notes.
User must explicitly enable this feature.
User must explicitly enable this feature.

See also

  • <link> is similar to <a>, but for metadata hyperlinks that are invisible to users.
  • :link is a CSS pseudo-class that will match <a> elements with valid href attributes.