Techniques for WCAG 2.0

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G201: Giving users advanced warning when opening a new window


Pages that open new windows

This technique relates to:


The objective of this technique is to provide a warning before automatically opening a new window or tab. Opening new windows automatically when a link is activated can be disorienting for people who have difficulty perceiving visual content, and for some people with cognitive disabilities, if they are not warned in advance. Providing a warning allows the user to decide it they want to leave the current window, and the warning will help them find their way back, if they do decide they would like to go to the new window. It will help them understand that the "back" button will not work and that they have to return to the last window they had open, in order to find their previous location.


Example 1: Including the warning in the text describing a control

The name or label that describes a control can include the warning about opening in a new window.

Example Code:

              <a href="knitting.html" target="_blank">All about Knitting 
                (opens in new window)</a>

Example 2: Using CSS to provide a warning before opening a new window

The code below uses CSS to provide a warning before opening a new window.

Example Code:

                <title>Pop-Up Warning</title>
                <style type="text/css">
                body {
                :focus { outline: 0; }
      ,, {
       span {
                position: absolute;
                left: -9000px;
                width: 0;
                overflow: hidden;
       span, span, span {
                top:1em; left:1em; width:12em;
                border:1px solid #0cf;
                text-align: center
                div.example {
                margin-left: 5em;
                <h1>Pop-Up Warning</h1>
                <p> This is an example of an <a class="info"
                href="popup_advisory_technique.html" target="_blank">
                <strong>External link</strong><span>Opens a new

A working example of Using CSS to provide a warning before opening a new window is available.



For each link that opens automatically in a new window or tab when a change of context is initiated by a user request:

  1. Check that there is a warning spoken in assistive technology that this link opens to a new window.

  2. Check that there is a visual warning in text that this link opens to a new window.

Expected Results

If this is a sufficient technique for a success criterion, failing this test procedure does not necessarily mean that the success criterion has not been satisfied in some other way, only that this technique has not been successfully implemented and can not be used to claim conformance.

Techniques are Informative

Techniques are informative—that means they are not required. The basis for determining conformance to WCAG 2.0 is the success criteria from the WCAG 2.0 standard—not the techniques. For important information about techniques, please see the Understanding Techniques for WCAG Success Criteria section of Understanding WCAG 2.0.