How Do I Post Long Links in Email?

If you’ve ever included a link e-mail and had people then tell you that the link didn’t work you may be suffering from “broken” link – a link that has been cut somewhere in the middle by the recipients e-mail program.

If you’ve ever included a link e-mail and had people then tell you that the link didn’t work you may be suffering from “broken” link – a link that has been cut somewhere in the middle by the recipients e-mail program simply because it was too long to display on a single line. The link that the recipient then used wasn’t your entire link but rather consisted only of some leading portion of that link.

Here’s an example:

http://corgi-l.org/who-do-i-ask-if-i-have-questions-about-my-subscription/

That URL might be too long to fit on a single line on some displays or e-mail programs. In fact, it’s possible that it’s been wrapped as it was displayed above.

Many e-mail programs automatically wrap the text that appears in a message when displayed. That means that a line or a paragraph will be “re-flowed” to fill the entire with of the display area. The text is moved around using spaces as an indicator to know when it’s okay to move to the next line.

The problem is if there are no spaces, as in the example URL above. Then you may see something like this:

http://corgi-l.org/who-do-i-ask-if-i-have-questions-
about-my-subscription/

In a case like that the line may still be wrapped, but using arbitrary rules that cause the line to be broken in arbitrary places.

As you can see, the first portion of the broken URL is highlighted as a link. Unfortunately that does not include the entire URL. Depending on the actualy website and URL, if you click on that highlighted portion you will find that the link may not go to the intended page.

The solution is to use a link shortening service that will allow you to use a short URL in your e-mail that automatically redirects, taking people to the intended URL.

There are several such services on the Internet, we’ll use bit.ly as an example.

Bit.ly screen shot

Copy/paste the URL that you would have pasted in your e-mail into bit.ly instead:

Bit.ly with a URL to shorten

Then press the “Shorten” button. Bit.ly will replace the longer link with a short one:

Using this example, the URL that bit.ly created:

 

http://bit.ly/qEiIfq

will take you to the original URL:

 

http://www.tamingemail.com/2006/06/the-most-underused-key-on-your.html

Now, use this new shorter bit.ly URL instead of the original longer URL in your e-mail. It won’t be accidentally wrapped by the e-mail program on the receiving end, and your recipients will be able to click on it and go to where you intended.

Use a link shortening service like bit.ly or TinyURL.com or goo.gl or any of many others whenever you realize that the URL you are about to place in e-mail might be too long and might be wrapped and consequently broken by the recipients e-mail program.

by Leo A. Notenboom of Ask Leo!, used with permission.