Readability: Why are URLs highlighted as long words/polysyllabic words?
Modified on: Fri, 1 Apr, 2022 at 1:02 PM
A polysyllabic word is a word having more than one syllable. These words reduce the readability of content. Reducing the number of polysyllabic words means your text is easier to read.
Often URLs are highlighted as long or polysyllabic words by Siteimprove Readability. This article explains how to avoid that issue.
Example of URL flagged as a polysyllabic word
Here is an example of how a URL is often incorrectly shown within the text on a website.
"Please visit the website https://www.siteimprove.com for more information."
When a URL is written and presented in this way, the Readability algorithm considers this content the same way as written words. It will see the text as one long word with many syllables.
Note, it is not especially the URL that is being flagged but the text label used for the URL on the page.
A screen reader will read the content aloud by reading each letter of the URL as it does not recognize the word. This can be confusing and frustrating for the reader.
How should a URL hyperlink be shown on a page?
Content editors should present readable link text and not the full URL on their web pages.
Here is an example of how the URL in the earlier example could be shown.
"Please visit the Siteimprove website for more information."
This will not be flagged as a long or polysyllabic word and will be easier for screen reader users to understand.
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