Hypertext literacy… what is it?

On completion of this unit, you will be able to:

  • define key concepts pertaining to hypertext literacy in your target language
  • understand and explain how hyperlinks can affect a text, its reading, understanding and credibility

Hypertext, hyperlinks, hypermedia…



Some definitions

Here are some definitions from the The Tech Terms Computer Dictionary:

Hypertext is text that links to other information. By clicking on a link in a hypertext document, a user can quickly jump to different content. Though hypertext is usually associated with Web pages, the technology has been around since the 1960s. Software programs that include dictionaries and encyclopedias have long used hypertext in their definitions so that readers can quickly find out more about specific words or topics. Apple Computer’s HyperCard program also used hypertext, which allowed users to create multi-linked databases. Today, the Web is where hypertext reigns, where nearly every page includes links to other pages and both text and images can be used as links to more content. Source: TechTerms: hypertext


A hyperlink is a word, phrase, or image that you can click on to jump to a new document or a new section within the current document. Hyperlinks are found in nearly all Web pages, allowing users to click their way from page to page. Text hyperlinks are often blue and underlined, but don’t have to be. When you move the cursor over a hyperlink, whether it is text or an image, the arrow should change to a small hand pointing at the link. When you click it, a new page or place in the current page will open.
Hyperlinks, often referred to as just “links,” are common in Web pages, but can be found in other hypertext documents. These include certain encyclopedias, glossaries, dictionaries, and other references that use hyperlinks. The links act the same way as they do on the Web, allowing the user to jump from page to page. Basically, hyperlinks allow people to browse information at hyperspeed. Source: TechTerms: hyperlinks
Most Web navigation is done by clicking text-based links that open new pages in a Web browser. These links, which are often blue and underlined, are referred to as hypertext, since they allow the user to jump from page to page. Hypermedia is an extension of hypertext that allows images, movies, and Flash animations to be linked to other content.
The most common type of hypermedia is an image link. Photos or graphics on the Web are often linked to other pages. For example, clicking a small “thumbnail” image may open a larger version of the picture in a new window. Clicking a promotional graphic may direct you to an advertiser’s website. Flash animations and videos can also be turned into hyperlinks by embedding one or more links that appear during playback.
You can tell if an image or video is a hyperlink by moving the cursor over it. If the cursor changes into a small hand, that means the image or video is linked to another page. Clicking the text, image, or video will open up a new location in your Web browser. Therefore, you should only click a hypertext or hypermedia link when you are ready to leave the current page. If you want to open the link in a new window, you can usually right click the link and select “Open Link in New Window.” Source: TechTerms: hypermedia



So, what is hypertext literacy?

Rhetorically, links exert a subtle persuasiveness, highlighting a document’s key points, reinforcing its major arguments, and offering a snapshot of its openness and credibility. Navigationally, links demand that readers decide whether to accept invitations to go beyond the current text and take responsibility for choosing their own narrative pathways on the wider web. (Dudeney, Hockly and Pegrum, 2013: 11)

Too many links in a document can add to the reader’s cognitive load (thus affecting the readability of a document) and create a false impression that the document is credible. Too few links should also alert the reader about possible credibility issues. Dudeney, Hockly and Pegrum (2013: 11) define hypertext literacy as “the ability to process hyperlinks appropriately and to use hyperlinks effectively to enhance a document or artefact”. Natalya Sinitskaya identifies two broad sets of fundamental skills that readers of hypertext must possess, interactive reading skills and text navigation skills.

  • Interactive reading skills. According to Natalya Sinitskaya, “hypertext engages readers in active interaction with the text. The process of interaction requires a set of skills that is quite different from traditional print-based literacy” (Reading hypertext). These are:
    • Non-sequential reading
    • Critical reading
    • Reader-centered encounter with the text
    • Collaboration with the author
    • Manipulation skills
  • Text navigation skills. Three sets of skills are needed to effectively navigate through a hypertextual environment (Natalya Sinistkaya):
    • Accessing information
    • Browsing
    • Orientation in the cyberspace

Enhancing a document with hyperlinks require writers to be aware of the key features of hypertext and of the possible impact this may have on their readers’ interpretation of their text. Some basic knowledge of HTML is also an advantage!



In your everyday practice, you may not need to create website from scratch as most LMS platforms will provide you with a rich text editor. It is however a good idea to have some basic knowledge of HTML so that you can resolve some problems. If you want to learn HTML, you will find plenty of tutorials on the Web. You could try the w3schools site, and more specifically the Learn HTML section. You will find everything you need to know to insert links in a digital text.


Hypertext literacy in your language projects

Throughout your language studies and in the course of your future career, you will most likely be required to produce a wide range of digital texts in your target language. You will also look for information, read online articles, blog posts, and interact with others through social media. You may be given web projects to complete on your own or in collaboration with others, or you might have an article to publish on a class blog. You may be asked to share resources with your peers via a class forum. Hyperlinks and hypermedia will enhance a blog post, an email message, a PowerPoint presentation, etc. The table below gives you an overview of the activities you will find on this site. Just click on the links! And don’t forget to check the list of language specific resources at the bottom of this page!


TitleDescriptionRelated themesLanguages
Hypertext literacy... what is it?IntroductionOther language literacies, Reading and writing (FR), Listening comprehension, note taking (FR)EN FR GA IT
Student accommodationStudent accommodation abroadlistening, writing and publishing an hypertextDE ES FR GA IT


Related literacies

Source/attribution: Digilanguages          Author: Alexandre Jacquot

Below are some additional resources in English. You can use them to consolidate your knowledge of the terminology in English and practices in the English speaking world.

Definitions in English

  • Online dictionary 1
  • Online dictionary 2
  • Video clip explaining Internet terminology to ESL students?

Learn HTML in English!

Try to learn new competencies through the medium of English :). Below are (relatively) simple tutorials.

  • Tutorial 1
  • Tutorial 2


Additional resources (more advanced)

  • Links to recorded lectures
  • More specialised online articles (computing, engineering, law, sociology, etc.)


Voici quelques ressources supplémentaires en français.

Vous pouvez les utiliser pour mieux connaître la terminologie utilisée en français ainsi que pour avoir un aperçu des usages francophones.



Apprendre HTML en français!

Prenez l’habitude d’apprendre de nouvelles compétences en utilisant le français :). Les tutoriels ci-dessous ne sont pas difficiles à comprendre.


Pour aller plus loin

Hier einige deutsche Quellen zum Thema Hyperlink.

Zur Bedeutungsübersicht:

Hier ein Tutorium zum Erstellen von Hyperlinks auf 

Wer Html lernen möchte, kann hier einen Link zum entsprechenden Tutorium finden.

Sehr anschaulich erklärt auch dieses Video den Begriff Hypertext und gibt eine Einführung in Html.

Zum Weiterlesen:


  1. Tá treoracha simplí thíos a mhíníonn cén chaoi le blag a chruthú agus le WordPress a úsáid.

2. Breathnaigh ar chun míniú a fháil ar na nathanna a leanas:



Ecco alcune risorse supplementari che vi aiuteranno a rinforzare la vostra conoscenza della terminologia utilizzata in italiano in questo contesto.

Definizioni e glossario:

Definizioni in italiano dal sito dell’Università di Torino:

  1. Cos’è l’ipertesto
  2. Cos’è un link

Definizioni in italiano dal sito web pc-facile:

  1. Definizione di ipertesto
  2. Definizione di ipermedia


Da vedere:

Può essere utile anche questo Glossario Informatico dell’Università Ca’ Foscari di Venezia in formato pdf.

Nel video che segue potete trovare alcuni termini informatici di uso quotidiano, in italiano:

Apprendere HTML in italiano:

Qui potete trovare i tutorial di in italiano. In particolare:



Author: Valentina Rizzo

En el siguiente enlace puedes encontrar un diccionario de términos informáticos:

Glosario informático

También puedes leer el siguiente artículo sobre los términos informáticos que la Real Academia de la Lengua ha aceptado.

Source/attribution: Digilanguages          Author: Marta Giralt