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W3C Recommendation


Enables the current document to establish links to external documents.

Overview Table

DOM Interface HTMLLinkElement

The <link> element allows authors to link their document to other resources. It carries the same semantics as any hyperlink, or the HTTP Link: header.


  • href = URL potentially surrounded by spaces
    Specifies a URL that provides the destination of the link.
  • rel = set of space-separated tokens
    Specifies a list of tokens that specify the relationship between the document containing the link and the destination indicated by the link.Two categories of links can be created using the link element: Links to external resources and hyperlinks:
  • media = media-query list
    The media for which the destination of the hyperlink was designed.
    If the link is a hyperlink then the media attribute is purely advisory, and describes for which media the document in question was designed.
    However, if the link is an external resource link, then the media attribute is prescriptive. The user agent must apply the external resource when the media attribute's value matches the environment and the other relevant conditions apply, and must not apply it otherwise.
    The default, if the media attribute is omitted, is "all", meaning that by default links apply to all media.
  • hreflang = language tag
    The language of the destination of the hyperlink.
    A valid language tag, as defined in [BCP47].
  • type = A valid MIME type that destination of the hyperlink.
    gives the MIME type of the linked resource.
    The default value for the type attribute, which is used if the attribute is absent, is "text/css".
  • sizes = icon sizes
    The sizes attribute is used with the icon link type. The attribute must not be specified on link elements that do not have a rel attribute that specifies the icon keyword.
  • Also, the title attribute has special semantics on this element. The exception is for style sheet links, where the title attribute defines alternative style sheet sets.

Link relations

A URI or any IANA Link can be used as the link rel="", but HTML defines special semantics for many of them:

Link type Category Description
alternate Hyperlink Gives alternate representations of the current document.
archives Hyperlink Provides a link to a collection of records, documents, or other materials of historical interest.
author Hyperlink Gives a link to the current document's author.
first Hyperlink Indicates that the current document is a part of a series, and that the first document in the series is the referenced document.
help Hyperlink Provides a link to context-sensitive help.
icon External Resource Imports an icon to represent the current document.
index Hyperlink Gives a link to the document that provides a table of contents or index listing the current document.
last Hyperlink Indicates that the current document is a part of a series, and that the last document in the series is the referenced document.
license Hyperlink Indicates that the main content of the current document is covered by the copyright license described by the referenced document.
next Hyperlink Indicates that the current document is a part of a series, and that the next document in the series is the referenced document.
pingback External Resource Gives the address of the pingback server that handles pingbacks to the current document.
prefetch External Resource Specifies that the target resource should be preemptively cached.
prev Hyperlink Indicates that the current document is a part of a series, and that the previous document in the series is the referenced document.
search Hyperlink Gives a link to a resource that can be used to search through the current document and its related pages.
stylesheet External Resource Imports a stylesheet.
sidebar Hyperlink Specifies that the referenced document, if retrieved, is intended to be shown in the browser's sidebar (if it has one).
tag Hyperlink Gives a tag (identified by the given address) that applies to the current document.
up Hyperlink Provides a link to a document giving the context for the current document.


This example uses the link element to apply an external style sheet, called styles.css, to the page.


<link rel=stylesheet href="styles.css" type="text/css"/>



The link element can be used only within the head tag. Windows Internet Explorer 8 and later. The behavior of the href and the rel attributes depends on the current document compatibility mode.

IANA Link Relations database

The IANA maintains a registry of valid link relations at their Link Relations registry, established in RFC5988.

Related specifications

Specification Status Related Changes
HTML 5.1 W3C Working Draft
HTML 5 W3C Recommendation
HTML 4.01 W3C Recommendation
RFC 5988: Web Linking Standards Track
Subresource Integrity W3C Working Draft


This article contains content originally from external sources.

Portions of this content come from the Microsoft Developer Network: [Windows Internet Explorer API reference Article]