For instance, when I click on a colored underlined text, I am expecting it to be a hyperlink, redirecting me somewhere. When the hyperlink changes its color, I expect it to be already visited.

But what about struck out hyperlinks? I can't get it myself. May it be a invalid link? A link to a dead user account?

What should I expect, clicking a struck out hyperlink?

  • 1
    There's no general meaning, just whatever the author had in mind. You can probably surmise that it means the link is dead or obsolete. – jjlin Apr 11 '14 at 7:02

You should expect to visit the hyperlink, with no difference in behavior.

As with bold or italics, a strikethrough does not have historical actionable assumption that goes along with it, unlike underline. Strikethrough is used as a formatting markup vs. a navigational markup, as is bold and italics.

Take the following as an example. Does the addition of bold or italics alter your opinion of these being links or not:

enter image description here

Strikethrough, from Wikipedia:

Strikethrough (also called strikeout) is a typographical presentation of words with a horizontal line through their center. It signifies one of two meanings. In ink-written, typewritten, or other non-erasable text, the words are a mistake and not meant for inclusion. When used on a computer screen, however, it indicates recently deleted information. It can also be used deliberately to imply a change of thought (as in epanorthosis).

To expand on this, I will make a slight tangent and point out that the links in your question are not underlined -- they are a different color, but not underlined. While underlining is still the default visual markup (combined with a blue/purple color) for links it is not at all uncommon for sites to remove the underline and rely on color alone.

In the 1990's using a black underlined string was bad form, because many people would try to click on it. It was underlined after all! Today, I would bet that it would go unnoticed and (for the most part) unclicked. Underline is still uncommon but has moved more towards a formatting markup, away from a navigational markup, in the eyes of many. (a personal opinion based purely on observation)

Back to a strikethrough...

A 1990's web user would see the following as a link and expect it to behave as a link, it is colored and underlined appropriately. The strikethrough is implying an edit/retraction of the text that is visible, per the Wikipedia definition.

enter image description here

Today's web user would assume the same thing. Additionally, because underline is no longer as common for link markups, the following would be seen in the same way.

enter image description here

So summarize - strikethrough is a formatting markup, generally used to signify deletion of information (while maintaining the original for posterity). It's presence does not alter the perception of behavior of the underlying link.


Strikethrough text represents deleted text. HTML used to have a <strike> tag to create strikethrough text but it was replaced by the <del> tag in HTML5.

The <del> tag defines text that has been deleted from a document.

The link itself may or may not work depending on how the developer coded it. Developers usually put a url in the link code, but they can add a pound sign in there instead to create what visually looks like a hyperlink but that does not load a new page in the browser. I could see a developer doing this with strikethrough text to prove a point, though I don't think it's a good idea.

Side note: JAWS, the most popular screen reader used by sight-impaired users, does not recognize the <del> tag by default, meaning they're not going to read the strikethrough text differently. So the message that text is crossed out will not be relayed to sight impaired users unless developers take the care to add a comment (e.g. in the title attribute) noting that the following link is crossed out and not valid.

So most uses of strikethrough text are not likely to be 508-compliant, which makes it a poor UX choice.

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