Currently web & print media share no standard method of linking to referenced materials. Methods that exist for print (footnotes [1] and (parentheses)) are not well suited to web-based usage and break the expected link-relationship. Further, where links are used online there exists no obvious method for highlighting link relationship, relevance or accuracy.

The muRF project aims to address these limitations by extending HTML and print markup to provide a means to carry this information in a simple way.

Simple, extensible and ignorable.

  • Simple
    Existing markup (italics, footnotes and links) is well understood. muRF takes these existing standards and extends the concepts behind them to cover new relationships. Nothing new is added unless required and existing relationships are clarified.
  • Extensible
    It is impossible to know now how textual markup will be extended in the future. The current interest in semantic document relationships could give way to new methods of connecting data. muRF relationships lend themselves to being extended to suit.
  • Ignorable
    Perhaps most importantly, muRF will not break existing markup. Users which have the extensions installed will see the markup as intended, those who do not will not.

More information is available about the design decisions for muRF tags and markup.

In Practise

The following paragraph shows the end result of a paragraph being marked up with muRF syntax and viewed using the extension.

An example paragraph, with material referenced to source, and linked on other pages definitions of TLAs. Here’s a rule I recommend: Never practice two vices at once.

The important points to notice are that acronym/abbreviation, quotation and the new reference tags now link to their source and are highlighted (underlined) as such. Readers can now check the sources of the information they are presented with. Secondly, quotations & references are marked up with dotted underlines to show they are linked. Note that where these sources do not exist the tag underline will not be shown.

To see the reasoning behind the differing formatting for each tag see tag development.

To stop reading and start marking up your content muRF-style, see the usage guide



Viewing muRF markup on pages (including here at is simple, needing only a small extension for the Firefox browser.

Click here for download & installation instructions.


Adding muRF markup to your pages is as simple as using the HTML extensions in your own site. All the information you will need for doing this is included in the usage guide.

If you are using WordPress you may also want the WordPress plugin. Using this gives you access to muRF markup while editing your posts and provides options for notifying visitors that markup is available if they do not yet have the required extensions.


muRF enhances the standard markup to show all places in the document where links exist. Our next step is to take these links and provide additional information to the user about quality, destination and relevance. For more information on this stage of development see semantic muRF.

If you are interested in helping with development of muRF (including server-side software) leave a comment below.


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