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Deep Linking: Deep Linking

A guide to understanding and creating deep links in popular research databases.


If you're confused about deep linking, Ask A Librarian any time of day for help.

Deep Linking Resources

Here are some other guides to help you better understand deep linking.


Deep linking ensures that a webpage is always accessible.

What is deep linking?

Deep links are the permanent addresses of objects on the Internet. Websites such as search engines and databases often create temporary pages for users because of the unique way they found the object. A variety of individual search sessions can lead to the same article, so a website creates a temporary page in order to preserve the user's search session information while viewing the article.

You can spot a temporary page by its long URL and the high amount of numbers, symbols, and random letters.

(Click the image to see it bigger.)

By contrast, the deep link URL is simpler because it is the address of the article itself and not the user's search session for the article.

(Click the image to see it bigger.)

Deep links are shorter than temporary URLs and tend to use more real words in their address instead of random numbers and letters.

Some databases have "toolboxes" which help you use the article you're viewing. Here are some ones to look for when you are trying to deep link.

Icons shaped like chains or clipboards are usually generate a deep link when you click on them. This is the first tool to look for.

Icons shaped like letters send the article's URL in an email. Sometimes the database will provide the deep link in the window asking for email addresses but other times you will have to actually send the email in order to see it. Email is the second tool to look for because it is generally a reliable way to get a deep link. Occasionally, the email tool will send a temporary URL instead of a deep link. Use with discretion.

Icons shaped like pages or labeled "cite" generate bibliographic citations for the article. The deep link may be displayed depending on which citation style you choose. However, the citation may also only list the main website's URL instead of the article's deep link URL. Use with discretion.


If you're ever unsure of how to deep link, check the database's help pages or  Ask A Librarian.


There will be times when you will have to right-click on a link to find the deep link URL. Although this guide says that you would select Copy Link Address from the drop-down menu, all menus may use different language. Look for phrases like Copy Shortcut or Copy Link Location instead.

Why should I deep link?

Deep linking might seem unnecessary. It's true that all webpages have addresses but not all URLs work the same way. There are three types you should be aware of: website homepage URL, temporary URL, and deep links.

1. Homepage URL

The address you see when you first access a website. It is typically very simple, closely resembling the format.

2. Temporary URL

The address that is generated as a response to a user's specific query. For example, a person searching for bananas might receive a URL resembling"bananas"?id=e109595&bob=40%&r0b0+1337.html . The text after is matching the person's search for bananas with all the possible pages that will work. A temporary URL only exists during an individual search session. If the user searches for something else, closes the browser, or leaves that webpage, the temporary URL vanishes.

3. Deep link

Deep links direct a browser directly to an article. When deep linking to Gumberg Library resources, the URL has the Duquesne authentication string. The URL resembles


If you are still not sure what a deep link is, here's an analogy.

The Homepage URL is like your friend's neighborhood. You know that he lives in Brooklyn but you're not sure exactly where, so you'd have to look around in order to find his house.

A Temporary URL is your friend's location. He lives in Brooklyn but could be anywhere he likes, such as the deli or the park. You may find him at the deli but you can't rely on him being there all of the time.

Deep linking is having your friend's address. You know with certainty that you can find him at his house in Brooklyn and therefore don't have to search for him or hope that you'll bump into him.

Subject Guide

David Nolfi's picture
David Nolfi