I'm writing an application email to a professor for a PhD program. One dilemma that I have is whether I should add hyperlinks and if there are any problems in doing that. Consider the imaginary paragraph below:

... and I currently work under supervision of professor Foobar in laboratory of blabla at University of ...

Is this a bad practice? Is there any chance that they neglect the convenience of a single click because of a the visual incoherency of the text?

P.S. Are still any email client that shows the actual url instead of hyperlink text?

  • 3
    1) Some people do not use HTML emails. 2) If your application is rejected by someone because you put links in your email, then you probably wouldn't want with that person anyway.
    – user102
    Commented Aug 11, 2014 at 14:51
  • @CharlesMorisset, Regarding your first point, what kind of emails do they use (this is not an attack, I'm genuinely curious to know!)
    – Pouya
    Commented Aug 11, 2014 at 15:09
  • 6
    @Pouya Plaintext?
    – xLeitix
    Commented Aug 11, 2014 at 15:25
  • 4
    You can write out the URLs if you are sure they are helpful instead of making HTML anchor tags.
    – Bill Barth
    Commented Aug 11, 2014 at 15:42

3 Answers 3


My personal remark:
I am not particularly fan of clicking all around links in an email I just got from a stranger, however natural and official looking it is.

From reader engagement point of view:
Links directly included to the text actually invite the reader to interrupt their reading and click and go to the website of another university, reading this and that there, instead of reading your mail! It is exactly you don't want, becasue you want her/him to stay and read your mail from start to end. If you really want to link, I would make a separate short paragraph at the end or in P.S., something like "for your convenience, here are links to blablabla". That way the reader easily can reach those websites, IF she/he chooses and AFTER she/he read your message.


There are a few holdouts who only read emails once they have been printed. With the advent of smart phones and the decline of lab or research area secretaries this number has gone down but there are still a few. I know of at least 2 in my area of research at my alma mater that still worked with only printouts and both were, if a bit stodgy when it came to fancy technologies like emails, were brilliant researchers.

For that somewhat silly reason I would definitely find a way to put URLs inline in any emails to professors you aren't familiar with. Something as simple as:

... and I currently work under supervision of professor 
    Foobar([www.school.edu/~foobar][1]) in laboratory of 
    blabla([www.school.edu/~blabla][1]) at University of ...

I think I'd write it "straight," and give the links in a closing paragraph at the end. That way, links don't distract from the point you're trying to make*, but you've still provided the information that may be wanted. I'd surely put the full URL, instead of a blind link. So:

You can find Professor Foobar's page at www.school.edu/~foobar  The Blabla
laboratory maintains a page here: blabla.school.edu

* For an example if distracting links, see any Wikipedia page. (It is getting better, though.)

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