I am currently in the process of applying to different PhD programs. As part of my application, I am required to upload a CV. On my CV, I have included hyperlinks to my GitHub home page, my Google Scholar page, and to other GitHub projects that I have worked on. More precisely, my CV was written in LaTeX and uses the hyperref package to create these hyperlinks. I submit these CV's in PDF format with the hyperlinks embedded in them.

Once I upload my CV and preview it, for some universities, the hyperlinks work fine after I upload my CV and preview it. However, for others, the preview seems to remove the hyperlinks from the CV. I use sentences like "see here for details." in my CV, where here is hyperlinked, so removing the hyperlink makes this sentence meaningless. Note that different universities have different methods of previewing the CV, such as opening the CV in the Adobe PDF viewer or in a non-Adobe PDF viewer in another window. Hyperlinks usually work if the CV is opened using the Adobe PDF viewer.

Are people on the graduate admissions committee able to see these hyperlinks and download my CV in PDF format regardless of what the preview looks like?

  • 2
    It's practically certain that someone, somewhere will want to convert your pdfs into dead-tree format. Hyperlinks do not work then...
    – avid
    Dec 1, 2020 at 9:45
  • The question in the title doesn't match that in the body. Which do you really want to know: whether to include the links, or whether the software of a specific university will preserve the links? (If the former, yes, extra information is always good. If the latter, we have no way of knowing.) Dec 1, 2020 at 9:46
  • 1
    The safe, though ugly solution is to rewrite the sentence to say "see Github repository for details: <url>" and type out the url. Dec 1, 2020 at 9:46
  • 1
    @avid learned a new term: dead-tree format. Astronat yeah, I see no problem with this, but one needs to assure that the URL will not change in the future or vanish. I would not rely on URL shortening services.
    – stephanmg
    Dec 1, 2020 at 10:02

2 Answers 2


The issues you point to are real and good to pay attention to, but links are too useful to simply not use them in situations like this. Here is how I approach this issue:

  1. Definitely use links (unless there is an explicit prohibition or a guideline discouraging their use), where appropriate. They add a lot and can be very useful to showcase your work and projects (and general tech savvy and resourcefulness).

  2. Don’t use the “click here for blabla” format for links in a PDF document. This would be confusing to someone reading the document on paper or on a PDF from which the link has been stripped. Instead the link text should be equal to the URL it links to (although it’s okay, and may be preferable, to strip the “https://“ header). Example: “see academia. stackexchange.com for blabla”.

  3. In general, don’t assume that any reader can or will visit the link. The document must stand on its own and make sense even if the links end up being stripped out. So, consider the links as extras that can add useful context but don’t use them to communicate any critically important information.

  4. Link text should be styled (color, underlining, monospace font etc) so it’s easily seen and understood as a link.

  5. Don’t point to web pages with very long URLs that clutter up the page and will lead to visually jarring line breaks (which LaTeX’s hyperref package doesn’t handle well). If the URL is somewhat long but not too long, consider putting it in a footnote and shrinking the font size.

  6. Don’t use URL shorteners to get around the issue of long URLs. They obfuscate the link destination and require the reader to visit the link to find out where it points to, which is an annoyance and a security issue.

  • My university provides a link-shortening service (that ends in .edu). What would you think of using that? Dec 1, 2020 at 17:47
  • 1
    @AzorAhai link shorteners are useful for some purposes, and it’s nice of your university to provide this option, but I still wouldn’t use it for a CV.
    – Dan Romik
    Dec 2, 2020 at 0:37
  • Thanks for the advice! I have decided to use citations marks such as "[1]" and "[2]" in place of URL's, and then created a references section at the end of my CV that lists the URL's associated with these citation marks. Sort of like the references section in a normal technical report. What do you think about this approach?
    – mhdadk
    Dec 2, 2020 at 8:44
  • @mhdadk I guess it’s okay, but you’re making the reader click a PDF intralink to get to an external hyperlink? Sounds like an unnecessary inconvenience to me.
    – Dan Romik
    Dec 2, 2020 at 16:44
  • @DanRomik Yes that's what I'm doing. I think the problem with including the URL's directly in the text is that it makes it cluttered, as I am using several links, but thanks a lot for the advice!
    – mhdadk
    Dec 2, 2020 at 17:28

It's obviously impossible for us to know whether the software used by certain universities preserves the hyperlinks in your pdf. However, if they're not shown in the preview, it's safer to assume that the hyperlinks will not be present in the final version seen by an admissions committee.

What can you do instead? The safest option is to rephrase your sentence to say something like "see Github repository for details: www.github.com/myrepo", including the url in full. You can use the \url{} command in LaTeX to hyperlink the url even when it's written out in full. This preserves the original functionality, while ensuring that the information is not lost with a hyperlink in the body of the text.

Furthermore, from an accessibility standpoint, it is generally considered better practice to write urls out in full, as those with visual impairments who use screen readers may not be able to properly interpret the sentence "more details available here" where "here" is a hyperlink.

As mentioned by @avid in the comments, inevitably someone who reads your documents will want to print them off and look at the hard copy. Again, a hyperlink in the text is useless to them, but the full url will at least let them know where to look.

Finally, as noted by @stephanmg in the comments, make sure that when you add these urls to your CV or other documents, they link to a stable site. For a CV it's not too much of a concern, as it will likely only be needed for a couple of months while the committee considers the application, but bear it in mind for future documents that may be updated less frequently. Hosting documents and other extra information about yourself on your own website could be a good workaround to this.

  • Thanks for the advice! I have decided to use citations marks such as "[1]" and "[2]" in place of URL's, and then created a references section at the end of my CV that lists the URL's associated with these citation marks. Sort of like the references section in a normal technical report. What do you think about this approach?
    – mhdadk
    Dec 2, 2020 at 8:43

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