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I currently use enter image description here to refer to an external link on my personal website.

However recently I have started noticing extended use of → for links. Is this a replacement for enter image description here ? or is it used to convey some other meaning?

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Can you post an example URL using the new icon you mention? – Dan U. Jul 16 '11 at 10:01
geoffreygrosenbach.com – Vaibhav Bajpai Jul 16 '11 at 10:07

People use all sorts of things for links. Use whatever makes sense for your actual design. The icon you're currently using is fairly common and well-known. For whatever it's worth, I don't think I've ever encountered that → character in this use. Asking if it's a replacement kind of assumes there's a standard in the first place; there isn't.

Such indicators have largely gone out of fashion in my own experience. I probably only see them anymore on sites that by nature are very heavily internally linked and so external links really are a bit of an oddity, eg. Wikipedia. Anywhere else, it's just an assumed possibility that you might get sent off-site.

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Yes, there is not standard for marking external links. The diagonal arrows you showed seem to be copied off of wikipedia. Some other sites I've seen use a different colour (e.g. green internal, blue external.) On slashdot.org they simply name the site in (brackets) after the link. I had never seen the use of → before though it does have some advantages. → is a text character so one can type it easily where as your diagonal arrows are a small image that needs downloading. – Rincewind42 Jul 16 '11 at 14:10
Plus one for "Asking if it's a replacement kind of assumes there's a standard in the first place; there isn't." – feeela Jul 16 '11 at 15:55

Semantically I think → is an incorrect choice for external links because to me that reads like 'continue on in this direction'. I also don't know how that is read by a screen reader (being that it is a text character and all)

That being said, as Su' has mentioned, there is no standard nor any real need to adopt one.

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