For some time, I've felt the need to distinguish between different kinds of links: links that lead to the Glossary, links to another page that treats some topic in detail, links to the monster bibliography, and so on.
For instance, you wouldn't want to follow a link to the Glossary unless you came across an unfamiliar term. So most people could ignore most of those links. On the other hand, you might know what a term means, but be looking for detailed information that can't be found in the Glossary. It would be nice if you could tell which kind of link was on the page before you from, say, its color, to help you decide whether a link is worth following or not. But HTML has only one way to indicate links.
In a book, you might find new terms printed in italics or boldface, which would be a clue to look in the book's glossary. I choose to use italics for that here: links that are italicized lead to Glossary entries.
Ordinary Roman type then can be used for normal links to other pages. Thus, for example, if you see a link with the word mirage, italicized, you know that link leads to the Glossary entry for “mirage.” But if you see a mirage link in ordinary type, you can expect it to take you to a page that tells you something about mirages.
This leaves boldface to flag links to the bibliography, with the handy mnemonic: “B for Boldface; B for Bibliography.” These need to be flagged, because the bibliography is a huge file (over a Megabyte); any reference to it will take a long time to load. But, as the “reading” page loads much faster, and contains references to the most important works, I also have many regular links to it from other pages here. Those links can be followed more quickly.
This is something of an experiment, so I'd like to get some feedback from you. Is this scheme actually helpful, or are my typographical shenannigans merely a distraction?
I've received only a single response to this in the past four years. The lone commentator, David Hutton of Durham, England, pointed out that it can be useful to open a glossary (or other quick-look) link in a separate window. Some browsers allow you to do this by holding down <Shift> or <Ctrl> while clicking on the link, or by using the middle mouse button instead of the left one.
Please send me an e-mail if you have any reaction to this attempt to circumvent the limitations of HTML.
Copyright © 2000, 2005 – 2007, 2012 Andrew T. Young