Key Quotes

Let me introduce the word "hypertext" to mean a body of written or pictorial material interconnected in such a complex way that it could not conveniently be presented or represented on paper. It may contain summaries, or maps of its contents and their interrelations; it may contain annotations, additions and footnotes from scholars who have examined it. Let me suggest that such an object and system, properly designed and administered, could have great potential for education, increasing the student's range of choices, his sense of freedom, his motivation, and his intellectual grasp. Such a system could grow indefinitely, gradually including more and more of the world's written knowledge.

My work is concerned principally with the theory and execution of systems useful to the mind and the creative imagination. This has polemical and practical aspects: I claim that the precepts of designing systems that touch people's minds, or contents to be shown in them, are simple and universal: making things look good, feel right and come across clearly. I claim that to design systems that involve both machines and people's minds is art first, technology second, and in no way a derivative specialty off in some branch of computer science.

For personal learning and recreational reading, for various kinds of in-depth research, and for historical and background study in many fields, we need full-text access in great quantities...

The network proposed here will hold an extraordinarily large corpus of documents for rapid viewing, and for extremely fast cross-fetching along links between them. These links, put in freely by authors and annotators, may be freely used by the reader as paths leading to other documents...

As these linkage facilities extend the notion of literature considerably, we use here the term "transcendental literature" for a corpus of this type, available in this delivery system.

It is my belief that this new ability to represent ideas in the fullness of their interconnections will lead to easier and better writing, easier and better learning, and a far greater ability to share and communicate the interconnections among tomorrow's ideas and problems. Hypertext can represent all the interconnections an author can think of; and compound hypertext can represent all the interconnections many authors can think of, as we shall see.

Selected Works


A File Structure for The Complex, The Changing and the Indeterminate

Dual book

Computer Lib / Dream Machines


Selected Papers


Literary Machines

Edition 87.1



Movies, Intellect, Creative Control, My Computer Life and the Fight for Civilization



The Work and Influence of Ted Nelson

External Links