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Remote controlled hyperlinks (or multiple links in one hyperlink)

Written by on CSS Wizardry.

Table of Contents
  1. Demo
    1. The code
  2. Caveats
    1. Concerns

This is a little development technique I dreamt up the other day. I’m not even one-hundred percent sure what to call it, but due to what it does, which you’ll find out in a second, I think remote controlled hyperlinks will (sort of) do… I put it into practice on Suze’s new site, in the sidebar.

Imagine you have a piece of running text like ‘read more about me or get in touch’. Here we have two actions; read more and make contact. Let’s also imagine that your about page and contact page are one and the same; the contact section is just your email address on that page. What I wanted was a cool way of giving the impression of two separate links to the same page but also making clear that the two links both did the same thing.


What I came up with was this, a way of hovering one link whilst giving the impression of hovering any number of quasi-links inside it.

What this does is removes all link styles and evidence of being a link (hover states, cursor and outline) from the a and applies those styles to spans inside it. When you hover the a, only any spans inside it change, and when you click anywhere in the link, both spans have active, outlined states.

The code

<p>Read more <a href="#" class="multi-links"><span>about me</span> and <span>contact me</span></a>.</p>

<p>Why not <a href="#" class="multi-links"><span>search</span> and <span>read</span> my archives</a>?</p>

.multi-links span{
.multi-links:hover span{
.multi-links:active span,
.multi-links:focus span{
.multi-links:active span,.multi-links:focus span{
    outline:1px dotted #c00;


Of course this can only work where the two links are one after the other because (as you know) you cannot stagger the nesting of tags. This of course limits its usefulness somewhat.


This presentation and behaviour goes against most known link conventions, it could well be pretty confusing. If you were to use this at all, I think it’d be best left for use on a site where the users are likely to be more tech savvy than your usual.

I think it’d look pretty cool on a portfolio type site, or a personal site such as Suze’s where the copy lends itself well.

Anyway, there it is, nothing groundbreaking but a pretty cool and interesting effect.

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Hi there, I’m Harry Roberts. I am an award-winning Consultant Web Performance Engineer, designer, developer, writer, and speaker from the UK. I write, Tweet, speak, and share code about measuring and improving site-speed. You should hire me.

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