As a rule, training material should be sleek, clean, and easy to follow. One small item can determine whether the learner accepts the information presented as factual, or discards the information due to lack of confidence.
In training material, when we see a word that is blue and underlined, this is a hyperlink. This hyperlink is the URL, or website address, for the information that is being discussed or material requiring later review.
When the entire hyperlink is inserted into a document, rather than an abbreviated version, the learner may be left with an amateur impression of the material. Without confidence in the content, it’s plausible the learner may then disregard it altogether.
One example of a messy hyperlink is: https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/office/add-hyperlinks-to-a-location-within-the-same-document-1f24fc4f-7ccd-4c5f-87e1-9ddefb672e0e
Hyperlinks in PDFs (online or via an electronic device)
The hyperlink may have been formatted perfectly but then the containing document was converted to a PDF. Suddenly, the link no longer opens or an error message appears. This is caused by PDF software.
Adobe recently upgraded the ability to maintain the hyperlink functionality in the PDF. Prior to 2017, the link was saved onto the PDF as an image. Other PDF software, like Foxit, saves the functionality so it continues to work. Knowing the capabilities of your content creation software is key to success.
Hyperlinks in printed PDFs
In the case of printed material, it is suggested to spell out the full URL, because having the word underlined doesn’t allow for manual entry of the website address.
But, do not use unwieldy URLs that a user will not be able to type easily. For example, instead of: https://www.abc.com/services?client=firefox-b-1-d&q=how+to+freeze+a+row+in+google+sheets use URL shortening services like bit.ly or goo.gl.
Last but not the least, you could use a QR code that people can scan from their smartphones to open the desired URL. Many websites allow you to create these QR codes free of cost.
Developing materials that are streamlined, clean in appearance, and help build confidence in the learner is the most important. If the learner neglects to read content due to disorganization, we aren’t accomplishing our end goal.