686 – What’s that #:~:text?

clip_image002Hypertext was a concept first coined in the 1960s, inspired by an idea in the early 1940s as a way of thinking about organising information. The first practical implementations of Hypertext let a document or application reference a link to some other content, just as we now know web hyperlinks to do. It’s no wonder that when Sir Tim was conceiving the means of writing what came to be pages on the web, he envisaged hypertext – or even hypermedia – as the glue that holds it all together.

True hypertext documents or applications don’t just link pages to each other, but specific contents – it could be a fly-out or a pop-up with a definition of what a specific term was, or it might be a link that jumps into a particular part of a longer document.


Many web pages have bookmarks defined within – eg Wikipedia typically has links on the left side which jump to parts later in the document, and the bookmark is added to the end of the URL – like https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hyperlink#HTML

Office docs offer similar things – Word and Outlook have Bookmarks, PowerPoint can have hyperlinks inside slides that jump to a different slide etc.

If you look at documents stored on OneDrive or SharePoint, it’s often possible to create a link directly from within the full fat Office application, to a part of that document – eg clip_image006in PowerPoint, right-click on a slide in the sorter view and it will display a URL to that specific slide, that you could share or link from elsewhere.

When dealing with web pages, there are some other tricks you can do to jump straight to a part in the page, even if that page itself has not defined the bookmarks for you to reference like the Wikipedia one above. The WWW Consortium fairly recently defined a standard for handling “Text Fragments”, which means you could link to a specific phrase on a page. Clicking the link will navigate to that point on the page and highlight the text. This is done with a strange looking tag at the end of the URL: #:~:text=whatever.

Example: one of the most-visited articles in the TipoWeek archive, Killing me Softly, part I (a wistful post looking back at some of the Microsoft tech which has ceased to be) has a part which deals with the audio file format, Windows Media Audio – see it on https://tipoweekwp.azurewebsites.net/2016/10/21/tip-o-the-week-350-killing-me-softly-part-i/#:~:text=Windows%20Media%20Audio.

clip_image008Handily, if you want to generate a link straight to a word or phrase on a page, both Edge and Chrome offer a feature if you right-click on some text on the page – it may use other text fragment features to help steer to this specific piece of text, rather than just the first time that phrase appears on the page. See it in action, here.

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