Minnesota Department of Transportation

511 Travel Info

Design System

External links on MnDOT websites


Linking to external sources is an integral function of the World Wide Web. External linking can add significant value to the functionality and service provided by MnDOT websites by expanding available resources. It facilitates access to freely available Web tools as well as specific information not on MnDOT websites. External linking ensures accuracy and is more cost-effective than duplicating and maintaining the desired information on MnDOT websites or developing similar information internally. Linking to external sources of relevant or supportive information provides a useful and very important service for MnDOT visitors. External linking also encourages other organizations with related missions and content to link to MnDOT's websites, which increases and broadens readership of the Agency's web site.

Agency offices can manage links responsibly through a judicious choice of external links, by clearly letting users know when they are exiting MnDOT websites by providing appropriate disclaimers, and through active maintenance and oversight of external links.

Links to other Minnesota Government websites are not considered external links.


All links, internal and external, must be secure (use the https protocol). Do not link to sites or locations that are not secure.

Do not link to external sites if any location within that site (not only the location that you are directly linking to):

  • Is blocked by MnDOT’s firewall (website filter).
  • Advocate, or are likely in the future to advocate, for or against any political party, partisan candidate for election, or any political group; or that solicit political contributions.
  • Advocate any activity with respect to any federal, state or local statute, legislation, regulation, or proposed regulation.
  • Contradict, or are likely in the future to contradict, Agency policies, rule decisions, or positions.
  • Charge a fee, or are likely in the future to charge a fee, with the following exceptions:
    • Links to scientific journals and other publications and services that provide research and other data resources online.
    • Other links approved by the Office of Web Communications. Links to sites that charge people for access, or through which the information desired must be purchased, should include a notice warning the user of that fact.
  • Use technology that unreasonably inconveniences the user (such as multiple pop-up advertisements, inability to exit the site, etc.), or are likely in the future to do so.
  • Solicit membership in an organization, or are likely in the future to do so. Exemptions to this prohibition: Sites of organizations that MnDOT has a formal relationship with, like an MOU, co-sponsorship agreement, grantee, or awardee.
  • Have solicitations to buy products or services, or are likely in the future to do so, with the following exception:
    • The link directs users to a vendor or service on the approved vendors list.
  • Make requests for monetary donations or contributions of any kind, or are likely in the future to do so.
    • Note that this includes state and local governmental sites.
    • Exemptions to this prohibition:  You can link to sites of organizations if:
      • MnDOT has a formal relationship with them, like an MOU, co-sponsorship agreement, or grant, or
      • The "donate" or similar link is on the page that you are linking to, but is part of the global site navigation and not prominent on the page.
      • The "donate" or similar link is not on the page you are linking to (but may, for example, be on the home page).
  • Advise people, or are likely in the future to advise people, to contact an elected representative or to otherwise take action on, or become involved with, a partisan political candidate, group or election, or advocating for or against any federal, state, or local legislation, or any treaty ratification regulation, or proposed regulation.
  • Link to the most appropriate page within the site you are linking to. Do not link to an organization’s home page if a different page exists with information that is more on point to your topic. Links should not be made to the home page of the organization unless that is the page with the relevant information (such as providing the viewer with a link to a supplier of environmental education resources or their local watershed council).
  • If a link cannot be made directly to the information of interest, provide directions on how to get to the information from the linked location. Since database-driven web sites are becoming more common, a link to a specific document on these types of pages might not work. If the information can only be found through a site's search engine, the MnDOT page should include instructions on how to retrieve the relevant information. If a MnDOT page is referring customers to one of those databases it should indicate which database the person should select, and the topic for which to search, rather than just pointing to the page without explanation.

Social media links

  • If your project has a web presence, add a link on the project landing page in the social media section
  • If your webpage has a video that is associated with it, you can embed the video on the page or link to the video on YouTube
  • If you want to embed a Facebook post on your page, contact the Social Media Coordinator
  • Do not use Twitter widgets on pages
  • Do not link to the social media from outside organizations, unless we have a partnership with them (i.e. TZD, DPS, PedalMN)

Accessible Hyperlinks

Embed links
Create concise hyperlinks
Create descriptive hyperlinks
Email addresses
Other best practices
  • Clearly identify the content of the source being linked to.
  • Hyperlink text should not consist of the URL unless it is to be printed. Note: the MnDOT website will automatically display the URL when the page is printed.
  • If a hyperlink downloads a file, be sure to mention that.
    Example: Statewide Pedestrian System Plan (PDF, 52.57 MB)
  • If a hyperlink opens in a new browser tab or window, be sure to mention that.
    Example: MnDOT Homepage (opens in new tab)
  • Do not modify the styles for hyperlinks on MnDOT websites.
    • Underline hyperlink text.
    • Give hyperlink text a different color from surrounding text.
      • Hyperlink text is usually blue but may be any color that contrasts sufficiently with surrounding colors. 
      • Use the same color for all hyperlinks in a given document or web page.