Website names and addresses
Website names and addresses (URLs) don’t require any special visual treatment in running text—no quotation marks or italics, for example—but URLs in particular need to be treated with care so that the reader can find the site.
Follow these guidelines for referring to the name of a website in copy:
- When you refer to a website by its name (like Yahoo!) instead of its URL (like www.yahoo.com), follow the site’s preferred capitalization style. Don’t use quotation marks around the name or italicize it.
- If a publication has a print edition and an online edition, specify which edition you’re referring to only if it’s necessary for accuracy or clarity.
Yahoo! Sports now includes Rivals.com.
The article appeared both in Rolling Stone magazine and on Salon.com. Corrections have been made to it on the Rolling Stone website and on Salon.com.
Read a review of the movie in Slate.
The photos appear this month in Us Magazine. (Photos are appearing in both the print and online editions; no need to specify.)
The photos appear this month in Us Magazine’s online edition. (Photos are a Web exclusive.)
It’s completely true, and you can read all about it in The Onion.
Sometimes Internet addresses, or URLs, point to a website’s homepage; sometimes they point to a deeper page on the site.
The URL of a homepage generally includes only the site’s domain name, which is the first part of a URL typically ending in .com, .org, .gov, .uk, .au, and so on. Domain names are not case-sensitive, which means, for example, that whether you type WWW.YAHOO.COM or www.yahoo.com or Www.yaHOO.com into your browser, you’ll end up at Yahoo!.
Anything following the domain name and its “trailing slash” (as in www.whitehouse.gov/) is sometimes case-sensitive. So, for a website’s deeper-level pages (such as http://www.whitehouse.gov/administration/cabinet), take care to use the site’s capitalization for the URL.
When including a domain-name URL in copy, follow these guidelines:
- Don’t include http:// at the start of URLs that include www and the domain name alone.
- Don’t include the trailing slash (/).
- Follow the site’s convention for capitalization. If there’s no clear convention, use all lowercase for domain-name URLs: www.yahoo.com.
For URLs of deeper-level pages:
- Include the full URL of the webpage, even the http://.
- Follow the site’s convention for capitalization—these are often case-sensitive.
- Avoid using end punctuation, such as a period, after a link—a few people might think the period is part of the URL. And even for people who know how URLs work, it’s all too easy to accidentally grab the end punctuation along with the URL when copying and pasting the URL into a browser. Instead, set off URLs with a colon and a line break, or—if you have enough room so that awkward line breaks aren’t a problem—put URLs in parentheses.
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Read Farmer Josephine’s Garden Notes (http://www.farmerinthedell.net/Public/blog/Garden_Notes.html) to see what’s growing this week.
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If you have a very long URL and notice this syntax near the end of it, you may be able to delete the tracking tag (unless, of course, it’s serving a data-gathering purpose for your own site). For example:
may still work as:
But be sure to test the URL to make sure it still works. Question marks can appear in URLs for other reasons, too.
Don’t use quotation marks around URLs or italicize URLs.
Would you like to set your homepage to ‘http://www.yahoo.com/’?
Would you like to set your homepage to www.yahoo.com?
Breaking a URL
Generally, you should avoid having URLs wrap to a second line. Occasionally, because of space constraints, you may have no choice.
If you must break a URL, break it after punctuation in the URL. But don’t break the URL after a hyphen—some people may think you added the hyphen to indicate the break. And don’t add a hyphen to indicate the break—some people will think that the hyphen is part of the URL. If you must break at a period, a slash, or some other punctuation mark that people could mistake for the end of the URL, try to start the next line with that mark, instead of ending the first line with it.
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