What is hypertext document?

In this topic, you will learn about, What is hypertext document?

Hypertext is a text that links to other information. By clicking on a link in a hypertext document, a user can quickly jump to different content. Though hypertext is usually associated with Web pages, the technology has been around since the 1960s. Software programs that include dictionaries and encyclopedias have long used hypertext in their definitions so that readers can quickly find out more about specific words or topics. Apple Computer’s HyperCard program also used hypertext, which allowed users to create multi-linked databases.

Today, the Web is where hypertext reigns, where nearly every page includes links to other pages, and both text and images can be used as links to more content.

Hypertext systems allow for non-sequential, or non-linear, reading. This is the underlying idea of a hypertext system. The result is a multidimensional document that can be read by following different paths through it. In this section, we will look into the application of hypertext in computer systems, mainly the World Wide Web hypertext system.

The main use of hypertext is in information retrieval applications. The ease of linking different pieces (fragments) of information is the important aspect of hypertext information retrieval. The information can be of various media: it may be fragments of textual documents, structured data from databases, or a list of terms and their definitions. Any of these, or a mixture thereof, can make up the contents of a hypertext document.

Therefore, in a hypertext system, it is possible to:

  • link with a term that represents aspects of the content of a
  • connect two related documents.
  • relate a term to a fragment containing its definition and use.
  • link two related terms.

Such a hypertext system can store a large collection of textual and multimedia documents. Such a hypertext system gives the end-user access to a large repository of knowledge for reading, browsing, and retrieving. This is a “database” of sorts and is the reason why such a hypertext system is called a digital library.

The Web started as an extensively large digital library. As it has grown in popularity, it has offered the possibility of interactive applications and commerce on the Internet, making it much more than a digital library.

Hypertext Document



A hypertext document allows links to portions of the document occurring before the link’s anchor. This allows the reader to loop to portions of the document that they have already seen.

In computer-based hypertext documents, the mechanism to follow a link (the jump) is automatic. Jumping to an external link (another document) is as easy as jumping to an internal link within the same document. As long as the link is sufficiently specified with the name and the exact location of the linked document, the user can directly access the linked document with a simple click on the anchor.

Chain of Links

A series of successive jumps constructs a chained path through a series of documents. There is no limit as to the number of jumps, therefore the size of the chain is not constrained.

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There are two different but complementary purposes of chaining documents via links:
  1. Focusing: At each jump along the path, the user can narrow the scope of the search until the fragment containing the topic of their interest is reached.
  2. Broadening: Multiple outgoing links from a document allow the user to broaden their search. This is useful when the user does not have a precise idea of what is being searched for, or wishes to conduct a broad search in a certain domain.

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