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Content style guide


Links should tell our audience what action to take, where to go next, or what information to expect when they select the link.


  • We use links to connect Veterans with related information that may be helpful.
  • We also use links to help us centralize information, rather than repeating content in multiple places. This helps us update content more efficiently and keep content accurate.
  • Too many embedded links can be distracting or overwhelming to people with traumatic brain injuries or other cognitive impairments.
  • External links can be disorienting for all people, but especially people who use screen readers. We want to be clear about where links are taking people.
  • For issues not covered in this style guide, refer to the U.S. Web Design System (USWDS) on links. Review link guidance on the USWDS website
  • Use natural and descriptive language.
  • Describe the purpose of the link and the destination if it’s taking the reader outside of
  • Don’t make the link so long that the relevant words get lost.
  • Avoid “Click here,” since not all people are physically clicking links.
  • Avoid generic link text like “Learn more” and “Read more” by themselves.
  • Avoid using words that assume certain abilities, like “See,” “Hear,” and “Watch.”

Like this

Use natural language, and link relevant words

If your disability gets worse, you can file for an increase in compensation.
File for a VA disability compensation increase

Apply for a United States burial flag to place over a casket or coffin, or place with an urn.
Learn more about burial flags

Not this

Avoid “click here” and generic CTA text

Click here to file for a VA disability compensation increase if your disability gets worse.

Apply for a United States burial flag to place over a casket or coffin, or place with an urn. Learn more


  • Don’t punctuate link text. Exception: Question marks and colons are OK if they’re part of the link copy.
  • Create space between different links. Clustering links together can make it hard for users to select the intended link, especially on a touch screen device, like a smartphone.
  • In general, put a link on a separate line to help it stand out. Exception: Putting a link at the end of a sentence is OK if space is limited, like intro copy or alerts.

Like this

Put links on their own line
  • Trouble breathing
  • Persistent (continuing) pain or pressure in the chest
  • Bluish lips or face
Check COVID-19 symptoms on the CDC website

Not this

**Avoid linking each item in a list to the same destination**

CTA links are standalone hyperlinks that are calls to an action, but that don’t warrant a primary button CTA.

We generally reserve button CTAs to launch an application, to sign in, or other primary, essential actions on a page. But there are other kinds of actions that may call for a CTA as a text link, like downloading a form or learning about important information (like eligibility or copay rates, etc.).

Like this

In this example, the link is an action related to the topic, but it isn’t the primary CTA, which is to use the online application.

You can apply online or mail your Application for Burial Benefits (VA Form 21P-530).

Download VA Form 21P-530 (PDF, 5 pages)

Not this

In this example, the action gets lost as an embedded text link.

You can apply online or mail your Application for Burial Benefits (VA Form 21P-530).

Linking to documents and other file sources

Linking to external sites

  • Use text that tells the reader where the link takes them. Example: Check COVID-19 symptoms on the CDC website
  • Open external links in a new tab or window. Links to external sites should have an attribute in the source code to open in a new tab. (This is what that looks like: target="_blank" .) External links should also have rel="noreferrer" as an attribute.
  • Consider using an aria-label to create a screen reader-only label. Aria-labels can be helpful in specialized instances where there’s a clear reason to use separate text for people who use screen readers. The aria-label may append or replace text within a link to provide context about where the link goes.
  • Don’t use the “new window” icon for external links since it can cause confusion. In content we avoid use of the “new window” icon. Within components, for brevity, use of the icon is acceptable.
  • Open internal links in the same tab or window. Links within the domain should open in the current tab or window. Exception: Some VA sub-domains provide a distinct experience from, so they open in a new tab. For these exceptions, add “(opens in new tab)” to the link text.

VA sub-domain exceptions that open in a new tab or window

These sub-domains currently open in a new tab, and we should clarify that in the link text. Example: “Learn more on our ebenefits website (opens in new tab)” This list is periodically re-evaluated and updated.

Last updated: Dec 18, 2023