A piped link is an internal link with wikitext that creates hyperlinked (underlined, clickable) text displayed on a Wikipedia page that is different from the title of the page to which the text links. For example, the wikitext
[[train station|station]] displays as station but links to the train station Wikipedia article.
Do not confuse piped links and redirects: they are two very different mechanisms. Both allow the displayed text of a link to differ from the title of the final destination page (the page that a reader will see after clicking that link). However, a piped link conceals the destination page's title only in that single line on the single page where its wikitext is used, while on any page throughout Wikipedia any link, piped or not, to a specific redirect page will always lead to the same destination page.
Piped links are useful for preserving the grammatical structure and flow of a sentence when:
- the wording of the exact link title does not fit in context, or
- there are multiple meanings of the word (see "Mercury" example on the Disambiguation page).
To create the pipe ("|") character (also known as a vertical bar), you may press (⇧ Shift + Backslash) on English-layout keyboards. On Spanish keyboards the pipe character can be obtained by pressing (⇮ AltGr+1). More simply, note that the pipe character is the third character that appears in the "wiki markup" section of symbols at the bottom of the symbol page that appears in "edit this page" mode. Clicking on the pipe symbol there inserts it at the cursor spot, just as happens for any symbol chosen from this page. For full details on how to use this feature, see Help:Piped link.
There is disagreement about whether it is appropriate to pipe year numbers to "year-in-x" articles (such as [[2006 in sports|2006]]). According to the Wikipedia Manual of Style:
Another possibility is to link to a more specific article about that year, for example [[2006 in sports|2006]], although some people find this unintuitive because the link leads to an unexpected destination.
When not to use
First of all, keep links as simple as possible:
- Avoid making links longer than necessary: write "President [[George Washington]]", not "[[George Washington|President George Washington]]".
- It is generally not good practice to pipe links simply to avoid redirects. The number of links to a redirect page can be a useful gauge of when it would be helpful to spin off a subtopic of an article into its own page. However, while [[target|redirect]] is unhelpful, [[redirect|target]] may be helpful.
- Given the option to pipe a link or to "blend" an affix, preferred style is to use a blended affix. Write simply "[[public transport]]ation" instead of the longer and more complex "[[public transport|public transportation]]". Both display identically as public transportation.
- Never use piped links to convert the first letter to lower case: write simply "[[public transport]]" instead of the more complex "[[Public transport|public transport]]". Both display identically as public transport. The first letter of wikilinks is almost never case-sensitive.
Keep piped links as transparent as possible. Do not use piped links to create "Easter egg" links, that require the reader to open them before understanding what's going on. Wikipedia is not an Advent calendar. Also remember there are people who print the articles. For example, do not write this:
- ...and by mid-century the puns and sexual humor were (with only a few [[Thomas Bowdler|exceptions]]) back in to stay.
The readers will not see the hidden reference to Thomas Bowdler unless they click or hover over the piped exceptions link. In a print version, there is no link to select, and the reference is lost. Instead, reference the article explicitly:
- ...and by mid-century the puns and sexual humor were (with only a few exceptions, such as [[Thomas Bowdler]]) back in to stay.
Similarly, instead of:
- After an earlier disaster...
- After an earlier disaster, the Bombay Explosion (1944), ...
- After the Bombay Explosion (1944), ...
It will occasionally be useful to link to a fuller explanation of a phrase; when this is done, link the phrase, not a single word.
If Pontiac's War is defined as having been
- a war launched in 1763 by a loose confederation of elements of Native American tribes,
and there is no space for further explanation in that context (this is a quote from the lead of the article), then some readers will value a link to a description of the confederation. This should not be linked from the word confederation; the link in the following phrase:
- a war launched in 1763 by a loose confederation of elements of Native American tribes
- a war launched in 1763 by a loose confederation of elements of Native American tribes.
Further, it is inappropriate to contain veiled and uncited interpretations of fiction through piped links, as in this excerpt from the The Iron Dream article, which contained over 30 interpretations hidden in links:
- The pure and strong young "Trueman" (so named for the lack of mutations in his DNA) Feric Jaggar returns from the outlands of Borgravia where his family was exiled by the treaty of Karmak with the surrounding mutant states to his ancestral land of Helder ("the High Republic of Heldon"; founded on the principles of killing mutants and keeping humanity pure), only to find its rigor slackened and corrupted by the "Universalists", pawns of the sinister Dominator country Zind, which seeks to corrupt Helder's pure human gene pool into the mutant diversity that rules the rest of the world.
Such interpretation, if properly sourced, should be placed in its own section and citations provided. If the interpretation is purely that of the editor, it is original research and should be removed.
In the case of a category link, a piped link serves to sort the article alphabetically within the category. For example, to place Albert Einstein in Category:Physicists, you can link the article to [[Category:Physicists|Einstein, Albert]], and the category will then alphabetize him under Einstein rather than Albert.
The pipe character is also used when supplying parameters to templates; this is not the same thing as a piped link.