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Re: Indicating a non-html link


From: Jukka K. Korpela
Date: Apr 28, 2003 9:29PM

On Mon, 28 Apr 2003, ED COHEN wrote:

> We would like to alert our visitors when links lead to non-html files
> such as to a MS Word or Adobe PDFs download.

A very good principle, not just for accessibility but for general
user-friendlyness. In theory, we should avoid referring to technical
details such as data formats in document content, but in practice,
users should be informed about them.

> My concern is what text to offer either in the context or as an Alt tag
> if we do it with a graphic. I'm particularly about how understandable
> it will be when read by a screen reader.

In speech presentation, it would probably be best if the note about data
format appeared before the link. But I'm afraid that in English, that
would often result in somewhat unnatural verbal expressions, like
"There are more details on this in our (PDF format) [link] plan for year
2020." or "There are more details on this (in PDF format) in our [link]
plan for year 2020." Besides, it would overemphasize the format and could
be even somewhat alienating to the majority. So as a compromise, putting
the note right after the link is probably best, as rule.

> Is there a preferred way to indicate this?
> Some examples and thoughts:
> something.doc doc

First, I would advice against making file names or URLs part of the
document content proper, unless there's a very special reason. Instead of
something.doc, it is best to use the title of the document.

Regarding the way of indicating the format, I think the best principle is
to use as plain language as possible, avoiding technicalities. For
example, doc or .doc is a common filename extension, not a data format
name. I would use "(Microsoft Word format)", "(PDF format)", "(plain text
format)", "(Microsoft Excel format)", and so on.

Jukka "Yucca" Korpela, http://www.cs.tut.fi/~jkorpela/

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