Using the target attribute to open a new window on user request and indicating this in link text

Important Information about Techniques

See Understanding Techniques for WCAG Success Criteria for important information about the usage of these informative techniques and how they relate to the normative WCAG 2.1 success criteria. The Applicability section explains the scope of the technique, and the presence of techniques for a specific technology does not imply that the technology can be used in all situations to create content that meets WCAG 2.1.


HTML5, HTML 4.01 Transitional, and XHTML 1.0 Transitional

This technique relates to Success Criterion 3.2.5: Change on Request (Sufficient as a way to meet an unwritten technique).


The objective of this technique is to avoid confusion that may be caused by the appearance of new windows that were not requested by the user. Suddenly opening new windows can disorient users or be missed completely by some. In HTML5, HTML 4.01 Transitional, and XHTML 1.0 Transitional, the target attribute can be used to open a new window, instead of automatic pop-ups. (The target attribute is deleted from HTML 4.01 Strict and XHTML 1.0 Strict.) Note that not using the target allows the user to decide whether a new window should be opened or not. Use of the target attribute provides an unambiguously machine-readable indication that a new window will open. User agents can inform the user, and can also be configured not to open the new window. For those not using assistive technology, the indication would also be available from the link text.


Example 1

The following example illustrates the use of the target attribute in a link that indicates it will open in a new window.

<a href="help.html" target="_blank">Show Help (opens new window)</a>


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  1. Activate each link in the document to check if it opens a new window.
  2. For each link that opens a new window, check that it uses the target attribute.
  3. Check that the link text contains information indicating that the link will open in a new window.

Expected Results

  • Checks #2 and #3 are true.