How to Hyperlink in PowerPoint

How to Hyperlink in PowerPoint
Imed Bouchrika, Phd by Imed Bouchrika, Phd
Chief Data Scientist & Head of Content

Preparation and careful thought are the keys to an engaging PowerPoint presentation. Besides using substantial content, you must ensure that your narrative has a coherent flow from slide to slide. However, a lively presentation usually entails a multitude of topics. The subject of your presentation may also be composed of different subsections. Putting these into linear flow can get tedious and boring.

In fact, a linear flow gives the impression that the audience has no control over the discussion (Martin, 2008). In turn, they disengage after a few minutes of the presentation. Therefore, a non-linear pace is much more effective as it gives the audience a chance to explore other topics that may interest them. It encourages them to get more involved in the discussion (Matheson et al., 2002).

Fortunately, you can modify the flow of a PowerPoint presentation using hyperlinks. But what are hyperlinks and what is a hyperlink in PowerPoint? How to add a hyperlink in PowerPoint? How can you create hyperlinks to navigate between different sections of the PowerPoint presentation? What are the best practices in hyperlinking within a presentation? All of these will be answered in this article. It will also outline the steps on how to insert a hyperlink in PowerPoint. You may also want to learn about advanced hyperlinking techniques below.

How to Hyperlink in PowerPoint Table of Contents

  1. What is a hyperlink?
  2. Why add a hyperlink to PowerPoint?
  3. How to hyperlink in PowerPoint?
  4. Advanced Hyperlink Customizations in PowerPoint
  5. Hyperlinking Best Practices

What is a hyperlink?

A hyperlink is an element in digital documents that links to another location within a document or to a completely different file (Siegle, 2006). It is usually found on web pages, documents, and presentations. It is composed of two elements:

  1. Anchor object – This is typically a text which is highlighted by default to tell the user that it is a hyperlink. In modern applications, anchor objects can be images, a hot area, or a text. It is also called a hypertext, link label, or anchor text (Raggett, 1997).
  2. Link – It is usually an address that refers to the location of the target object. On the web, a link is used to access another website, a section on a webpage, or to download a file (HTML Links).

In the Microsoft Office Suite, hyperlinks are clickable objects with links embedded in them. They usually perform the following tasks:

  • Open documents or other files on your machine.
  • Open a website or web page.
  • Go to a specific section of the document.
  • Compose an email.
  • Create new documents that you can edit right away.

With such versatile functionalities, hyperlinks can be used to enhance the experience of a user. But, does adding a hyperlink have any significant effect on the audience during a presentation?

Why add a hyperlink to PowerPoint?

Hyperlinks are powerful elements that can add interactivity to your PowerPoint presentation. They are a great way to have a PowerPoint reference slide. If you do not know how to cite a research paper, you can add a hyperlink instead. Basically, hyperlinking to add any other sources to your slides declutters your overall presentation.

For example, you want to show various websites during your presentation. A hyperlink can point to a webpage that you can access immediately. Without hyperlinks, you will have to close your PowerPoint presentation, open a browser, and visit the website. This breaks the flow of the presentation.

However, a clever way to use hyperlinks is to create a non-linear presentation. Instead of doing a traditional presentation, you can engage the audience (Osmani & Sanchez, 2017). Maybe you can ask relevant questions. When they respond, you can jump to the slide with the relevant information in just a click (Meibauer & Nøhr, 2018).

A possible presentation design is to create a “homepage” slide, which focuses on the main topic. It includes hyperlinks to various sub-topics and related subjects. Clicking on one of the hyperlinks will take you to a sub-topic page with more detailed information. The slides can be designed so you can go back to the “homepage” using a hyperlink as well.

Hyperlinks highlight information on your slide, which attracts the attention of the audience. As such, it is an effective tool to highlight key content in your slides. It also helps them remember this information later on (Fitzsimmons et al., 2019).

In fact, research shows that the saliency of an object contributes to the acquisition and retention of information (MacLeod, 2020). Using hyperlinks to highlight various parts of your presentation is a good example of a classic phenomenon known as the Von Restorff Effect (Fitzsimmons et al., 2019). The more an object stands out, the more likely it is to be remembered by individuals.

How to hyperlink in PowerPoint?

Before you learn how to hyperlink in PPT, you should know what objects can serve as anchors for links.

  • Text – The most basic hyperlink uses texts as anchors, which turn them into highlighted texts which you can click. They are often indicated by an underlined font with a different color from the default.
  • Text Box – When you select a text box, including the frame, the text, and the spaces in between, you can turn it into a hyperlink. It becomes clickable, but without the underline and color.
  • Shapes – You can add a hyperlink to a shape or a group of shapes. Just like a text box, just select the frame and insert the link. The text inside, if there is any, will not be colored or underlined.
  • Text Within a Shape – Similarly, you can select a text within a shape and turn it into a hyperlink. The text will turn into a hyperlink without affecting the shape itself. It will be underlined and colored.
  • SmartArt Object – Just like shapes, you can insert a hyperlink to a SmartArt object or a group of SmartArt objects. The text inside, if there are any, will be clickable, but the appearance will stay the same.
  • Text Within a SmartArt Object – Select the text within a SmartArt object, and you can insert a hyperlink just like in regular text. It will be colored and underlined. But, the rest of the object will be unaffected.
  • Photo – You can also insert hyperlinks to photos. It can be used to illustrate ideas before you jump to another slide or a web page. Or, you can create a custom button inside a slide.

By default, PowerPoint allows you to create different types of hyperlinks. The first few steps are the same when creating hyperlinks. First, select a relevant object in your slide. Then, click “Insert” on the menu. Select “Link.”

PowerPoint Insert

Linking to a Different Slide

To link to a different slide in the same document, click “Link” and select “Place in this Document” in the “Insert Hyperlink” window that will open. You will see the various slides which you can select under “Select a place in this document”.

PowerPoint Insert a Different Slide

Similarly, you can also hyperlink to a custom slideshow by selecting “Custom shows.”

PowerPoint Custom Shows

Linking to a Web Page

To insert a hyperlink to a web page or a website, select “Existing file or Web Page” under “Link to.” In the “Address” field, type or paste the URL of the web page.

PowerPoint Insert Web Page

Linking to an Existing Document

To hyperlink to an existing file, select “Existing file or Web Page” under “Link to.” Navigate to the folder where you have the file within the window, then select and click “OK.”

PowerPoint Insert Existing Document

If you want to link to a specific slide in a separate PowerPoint file, click the “Bookmark…” button. In the open window, choose the slide.

Linking to a New Document

To hyperlink to a new file, choose “Create New Document” under “Link to.” The file will be created in the same folder where the PowerPoint is. If you want to create the file in another folder, click “Change…” under “Full Path” and select your desired folder location. In the “Name of new document” field, enter the name of the file. Additionally, choose the editing action under “When to edit.”

PowerPoint Insert New Document

Linking to an Email Address

To hyperlink to an email address, select “E-mail Address” under “Link to.”. Enter the email address under the “E-mail address” field. You may also indicate the subject of your email under the “Subject” field.

PowerPoint Insert Email Address

Advanced Hyperlink Customizations in PowerPoint

There are many ways by which you can customize the hyperlink in PowerPoint. While this article cannot cover all customizations, the most common is changing the color of the hyperlink and creating a screen tip.

Change Hyperlink Color

PowerPoint applies default colored to followed (clicked) and new hyperlinks. Depending on the theme or style of your slides, you may want to change this to fit your desired color scheme. Note that this applies to text anchors as shapes and SmartArt objects can be customized on their own.

Click “Design” on the ribbon menu. Under “Variants,” click the dropdown menu as follows:

PowerPoint Variants

Choose “Colors,” then click “Customize Colors.”

PowerPoint Customize Color

At this point, you are creating your custom color palette or theme. In the open window, choose the appropriate colors for “Hyperlink” and “Followed Hyperlink.”

PowerPoint Change Hyperlink Colors

Click “Save.”

Add a ScreenTip

ScreenTip is a message that usually appears when the cursor hovers over a hyperlink. You can use this to add helpful messages, guides, or other relevant information.

In the “Insert Hyperlink” window, choose “ScreenTip…” found on the upper right side.

PowerPoint ScreenTip

In the new open window, type on your text for the screen tip and click “OK.” It looks something like the following:

PowerPoint ScreenTip Text

Hyperlinking Best Practices

While hyperlinks are great tools to add interactivity to your presentations, things can get confusing and disorganized, especially if you are not keeping track of anchor objects and links associated with them. Here are some best practices that can help you efficiently create an effective PowerPoint presentation:

  1. Contextual anchor objects – Whether you are using texts, shapes, or photos as anchors, it should provide a clue to the destination of the link. This will prevent any confusion during the presentation. For example, if you want to jump to a specific web site, you can use its name as an anchor text.
  2. Use screenshots instead of hyperlinking to a website – If you only want to show your audience a website, it is much more efficient to take a screenshot than using a hyperlink to redirect to the website. It saves you a few clicks and minimizes issues such as a bad Internet connection. Only link to a website if you are planning to show its usage.
  3. Provide a link to your presentation’s cover page – If you are creating a non-linear presentation, make sure that you have a hyperlink that will direct you to the “home page.” You can easily imagine that you are creating a website. As such, navigation using the hyperlinks should be intuitive.

Create a Better Presentation Flow in PowerPoint

Presentations are challenging activities as you need to juggle multiple tasks at once. You need to make sure that you provide information, communicate clearly, maintain focus, and engage the audience. As a matter of fact, a PowerPoint presentation is seen as one of the most effective employee engagement ideas today.

Traditional linear presentation flows often require you to dominate the presentation. However, including your audience and building relationships with them during the presentation result in much better engagement. As such, you can create a PowerPoint presentation that best reflects your planned flow of discussion.

Your non-linear presentation will heavily depend on your topic or subject, your style of communication, and other activities that you have planned. Take advantage of hyperlinks to combine various resources and content into a centralized information hub. Hyperlinks also allow you to connect information together that will help your audience to better understand your discussion.



  1. Fitzsimmons, G., Weal, M. J., & Drieghe, D. (2019). The impact of hyperlinks on reading text. Plos One, 14 (2).
  2. HTML links (n.d.). W3Schools.
  3. Macleod, C. M. (2020). Zeigarnik and von Restorff: The memory effects and the stories behind them. Memory & Cognition, 48 (6), 1073-1088.
  4. Martin, F. (2008). Effects of practice in a linear and non-linear web-based learning environment. Educational Technology & Society, 14 (4), 81-93.
  5. Matheson, V. A., Abt-Perkins, D., & Snedden, D. (n.d.). Making PowerPoint Interactive with Hyperlinks. Academia.
  6. Meibauer, G., & Nøhr, A. A. (2017). Teaching experience: How to make and use powerpoint-based interactive simulations for undergraduate IR teaching. Journal of Political Science Education, 14 (1), 42-62.
  7. Osmani, F., & Sanchez, C. (2017). Hyperlinking content and fun: Creating interactive PowerPoint games for the ESL/EFL classroom. TESL Reporter, 50 (1), 35-51. EBSCO
  8. Raggett, D. (1997, January 14). HTML 3.2 Reference Specification. W3C.
  9. Siegle, D. (2006). Using hyperlinks to unleash the power of PowerPoint. Gifted Child Today, 29 (3), 40-45.

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