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When/How many times should you link to a resource?

I've never had this issue come up before, but when answering this question I kept referencing the same items repeatedly. When that happens:

  1. Is there a recommended limit to how many times to link it?
  2. If only 1 link should be used is it 'proper' format to link the first time, or if it seems more important later is it acceptable to do so then?
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No, there's no recommendation for this. It's not really a problem, so no need for guidance to avoid the non-problem.

Link as many times as is useful. One style (which Wikipedia uses) is to provide a link for the first instance of a keyword in a section, then skip the link for the rest of the instances in that section. Another style (often seen in technical or user help documentation) is to link every instance of a keyword. It's a matter of taste here, since we don't impose a site style guide.


One way to generate fewer link entries at the bottom, if this is a problem for you, is to reuse the same link if you've already used it. This won't make any difference for the reader, but could make a difference for you (saving time, or help you be less self-conscious about a tower of links). You can do this by noting in the editor what the [n] after the link is, and reusing that number manually instead of using the new-link button at the top of the editor.

So, the first time you link to http://www.d20srd.org/srd/spells/harm.htm, use the new-link button. The second time you want to link to it, instead of using the button, just add it manually like so:

... this allows its [Harm][1] ability to be used...

If you forget what the number matching a URL is, you can always check at the bottom of the answer box to see what number the new-link button assigned to it originally.

Or, rather, there's another way that skips the trouble of remembering what number is for what...

Skipping the numbers

If you're linking things repeatedly, you may want to replace the number (that [1]) at the bottom of your editor with a name and use that instead of numbers. This makes it easier to remember since it's the name of the thing itself, but it means you can take a shortcut linking to the item itself:

... this allows its [Harm] ability to be used...

[harm]: http://example.com

Note you didn't even have to include the second square bracket for the link! You just threw square brackets around the word itself, which saves a lot of work. But you can still do that if you want:

... And as for [that harm spell I mentioned][harm] ...

But really, no need to worry. Links are free in terms of text real estate, and handy to have nearby the relevant text.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Something you should also note: instead of [Harm][1] in the body and [1]: ... below, you can just have [Harm] in the body (no second [] after it) and [harm]: ... below. Makes linking to it over and over a lot easier, you'll never have to remember which number is which and won't make a link mistake. Every time you want to link to Harm, just write [Harm] and... that's it. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Apr 27 '15 at 4:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ yeah I did the [1][1][1] thing but somewhere in there it went and renumbered my links so that they went 2 & 3 etc... \$\endgroup\$ – Ben-Jamin Apr 27 '15 at 4:18
  • \$\begingroup\$ @doppelgreener what? sorry maybe i'm dense, maybe I'm just tired but I'm not tracking \$\endgroup\$ – Ben-Jamin Apr 27 '15 at 4:18
  • \$\begingroup\$ You'll get it after the answer explains. @SevenSidedDie Do you understand what I'm talking about, and are you doing that update or should I do that myself soon? \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Apr 27 '15 at 4:19
  • \$\begingroup\$ @doppelgreener Was mid-edit when das Kind needed tucking in. Done! \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Apr 27 '15 at 4:34
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Ben-Jamin Ah, that's probably the link button's interference. I believe it renumbers all numbered links when it's used to add another link. But again, it's no harm, so no worries. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Apr 27 '15 at 4:36
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    \$\begingroup\$ I made another edit. SSD, you were missing part of the point and benefit of using the actual words you're writing for the link name. :) \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Apr 27 '15 at 4:46
  • \$\begingroup\$ I see, what you were saying definitely makes more sense now. main thing is though that it doesn't matter. thx \$\endgroup\$ – Ben-Jamin Apr 27 '15 at 5:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ I had no idea you could use whatever values you wanted for links. Very useful! \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Apr 30 '15 at 13:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ "You can do this by noting in the editor what the [n] after the link is, and reusing that number manually instead of using the new-link button at the top of the editor." - It may be worth noting that the link button or Ctrl+L seems to (now) automatically format redundant link references as you've described, instead of formatting it as if it were a new link. So if I link to X earlier in the question/answer, and then I link to X again later in the question/answer, the site simply formats it as a reference to the existing link instead of trying to list it as a new link. \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Sep 6 at 18:28

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