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References to online information

Use cross-references and links to point your readers to other sources of useful, related information.

General guidelines

Follow these general guidelines for using links:

  • Unless the reason is clear based on the context, tell readers why you are referring to other information.


    For examples of diagnostic reports, see Reports.

    For more information about these parameters, see Configuring a Server.

  • If the linked-to information is essential and short, such as a restriction or parameter description, consider reproducing it instead of referring to it. However, reproduced information can become obsolete if the original is updated. If you reproduce content in multiple places, establish a process for keeping all instances of that content at the same version over time.

References to IBM information centers

Unless you are sure that the location of content in an information center topic will not change, use general references rather than referring to a specific topic in that information center. Show the formal name of the information center in plain font and, if possible, provide a link to the information center.

Example (incorrect)

For more information, see the “CICS Transaction Server for z/OS V3.2 information center.”

... see System requirements in the CICS Transaction Server for z/OS V3.2 Information Center.

Example (correct)

For more information, see the CICS Transaction Server for z/OS V3.2 Information Center.

... go to the CICS Transaction Server for z/OS V3.2 Information Center, and search for system requirements.

References to web addresses, protocols, and IP addresses

In this section, the following terms are used:

Web address

  • A web address is composed of the Internet Protocol (IP) name, a host name, and optional elements such as the port, directory, and file name. The typical protocols are HTTP, HTTPS, FTP, GOPHER, news, and Telnet.


  • If the protocol of a web address is HTTP, you can typically omit the protocol, colon, and forward slashes (http://); most browsers default to an HTTP connection. However, some tools convert addresses into live links and require the full address, including http://. If the protocol is not HTTP, include the protocol in the web address.

Internet Protocol (IP) address

  • An IP address uses a numeric label to uniquely identify the location of a computer on the Internet.

Follow these guidelines to refer to web addresses, protocols, and IP addresses:

Referring to web addresses

  • In online information, when you provide a link to a web page, use a meaningful descriptive label for the link, not the web address itself. In online information, the web address can be easily identified by hovering over the label. In the label, try to include text that mirrors the title of the linked site, so that users are confident that they are at the correct site after they click the link. Also, try to include keywords in the label; the inclusion of keywords improves search results.
  • When you refer to a web address in printed information, show the complete web address in parentheses after the descriptive label; even a faulty web address can provide useful information that can help users locate the target content.
  • Exception for marketing content: Web addresses are formatted differently in marketing content. See “Exceptions for marketing content” on page 274.
  • Avoid using the abbreviations URL and URI. Use web address, website, or web page, as appropriate.


Online information:

For more information, see the IBM Service-Oriented Architecture website.

PDF files and printed books:

Use the following guidelines to determine which verb or preposition to use in a reference to an address:

  • Use at, on, or see in a sentence that directs the reader to a web page for information only.


    Check the latest information about service-oriented architecture at the IBM Service-Oriented Architecture website.

    You can find information about choosing a database management system on the DB2 Information Management Industry Solutions web page.

    For more information about the compatibility of these components, see the WebSphere Software website.

  • Use go to in a sentence that directs the reader to a website where the reader will interact with web pages, for example, to perform tasks.


    To obtain the current license key for your product, go to the Support and downloads website and follow the instructions.

  • Use from in a sentence that directs the reader where to download a file.


    You can download the file from the Lotus Symphony downloads website.

When you list the web address on a separate line, precede it with a complete sentence that ends in a colon. You can list multiple web addresses inline or on separate lines.

Example (incorrect)

More information is available at: IBM Software and IBM Systems.

Example (correct)

More information is available at IBM Software and IBM Systems.

More information is available at the following websites:

  • IBM Software
  • IBM Systems

Using addresses in examples

  • Follow these guidelines to use web addresses and IP addresses in examples:

Web addresses

  • If you must present a web address as an example, do not create an address or use an address that links to (or might link to) an actual website. To avoid inadvertently using an address of an actual website, use only addresses that are reserved for use in examples. The Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) has reserved the following domain names for use in examples, in testing, and in documentation:
  • www.example.com
  • www.example.net
  • www.example.org

A host name is the portion of the address up to the first dot. If the host name is used alone, it is an unqualified host name. A fully qualified host name is the host name plus its domain. In abc.rtp.raleigh.ibm.com, abc is the host name, and rtp.raleigh.ibm.com is the domain name. To convert a fully qualified host name into an example for documentation, replace either the full domain name or a portion of it with “example.com.” If you replace the full domain name, the example becomes abc.example.com. If you keep the first subdomain, the example becomes abc.rtp.example.com.

IPv4 addresses

  • If you must present an IPv4 address as an example, use the IP loopback address, which is This address is often used by host computers to send messages to themselves for testing. If your example already contains the loopback address and you need additional example IPv4 addresses, use addresses in the /8 IP address block that are reserved for Test-Net: through Never use an address that is assigned to a real entity. For the IPv4 address space registry, see the IANA IPv4 Address Space Registry website (http://www.iana.org/assignments/ipv4-address-space).

IPv6 addresses

  • If you must present an IPv6 address as an example, use the nonroutable IPv6 address prefix that is reserved for documentation: 2001:DB8::/32 or its long form, 2001:DB8:0:0:0:0:0:0/32. The address range includes 2001:DB8:0:0:0:0:0:0 through 2001:DB8:FFFF:FFFF:FFFF:FFFF:FFFF:FFFF. Never use an address that is assigned to a real entity. For a list of IPv6 global unicast address assignments, see the IPv6 Global Unicast Address Assignments website (http://www.iana.org/assignments/ipv6-unicast-address-assignments).

Formatting and punctuating web addresses

Follow these guidelines to format and punctuate web addresses:

  • Do not highlight the address. When the address is displayed on the web as a link, the label for the linked address is highlighted.
  • When the address or link text is at the end of a sentence, follow it with a period.

    Example (correct)

    Information about IBM WebSphere products is available at the WebSphere Software website.

  • Do not include a forward slash at the end of a web address.

    Example (incorrect)


    Example (correct)


  • If a web address does not fit on one line, end the first line after an existing forward slash (/) or double forward slash (//), and continue the address on the next line. Do not add a hyphen to indicate a break in a web address. Do not indent any part of a web address.

    Example (incorrect)


    Example (correct)


References to webcasts, web conferences, and other online broadcasts

Use double quotation marks, not an italic font, for the title of a webcast, web conference, or other similar online broadcast. These broadcasts are comparable to short works such as a short story or a single episode of a television series or radio program.


To learn more about IMS and web services, attend the webcast “Generating web services from your existing IMS database.”

To learn more about IBM resiliency solutions, access the replay file for the webcast “Mitigating risk in an ever-changing world.”

Linking strategies

Important: For legal reasons, do not provide deep links to websites of other organizations or individuals without the permission of the website owner. A deep link is a link to a specific page or image on a website instead of to the main or home page of a website. If you provide deep links, users can bypass the terms of use for a website.

Link to and cite only peer-reviewed, reliable, authoritative sites. Do not link to sites, such as blogs, that are not peer reviewed. Do not link to sites, such as wikis, where the information can be edited by unreliable or irresponsible contributors. You can link to blogs and wikis that are owned and maintained by IBM.

When you refer to information on a website, you assume responsibility for maintaining the links. When content is moved, links break. A possible solution is to provide a link to a parent site or topic that is comparatively stable and then advise the reader how to navigate to the target topic. Consider the cost of maintaining such links and the risk of broken links as such sites change. The following list of common linking strategies is arranged from lowest to highest risk of breaking:

  • Do not link, but explain how to find the information on the site or in the publication.


    See the information about packaging files for translation in the DITA and Arbortext Editor Getting Started Guide.

  • Link to the site, and explain how to find the information.


    Online information:

    To learn more about finding the help that you need, go to the WebSphere Application Server Information Center, and read the topic “Prerequisite software for the information center.”

    PDF files and printed books:

    To install a Microsoft service pack, go to the Microsoft website (www.microsoft.com) and search for service pack.

    You can then download the service pack that you want to install.

  • Link to one or more levels down, and explain how to find the information.


    Online information:

    For more information, see the DITA and Arbortext Editor Getting Started Guide, and search for terminology.

    PDF files and printed books:

    For more information, see the ID Workbench Getting Started and User’s Guide (w3.rchland.ibm.com/projects/IDWB/documents/idwbdocs.htm), and search for terminology.

For more information, see DITA Best Practices: A Roadmap for Writing, Editing, and Architecting in DITA, Chapter 7, “Linking” and Developing Quality Technical Information, Chapter 9, in the section “Link appropriately.”

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