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Tutorial: Permanent Links to Online Documents: Finding Links & Making Them Work

Permanent Links

Permanent or Persistent Link / Durable URL / Permalink

You can't always return to an online document by copying the URL in the address bar of the page you're viewing.

  • Sometimes that URL is relative to your current search session, or the path you took to get there.

To find URLs that always link to a document, use a permanent link, also called a durable or persistent URL - these don't change or expire after you leave them.

Persistent links are designed to connect directly to an online document. Use them on a bibliography, course syllabus or reading list.

This tutorial covers how to find and use a permanent link that you can provide to others.


Click the gray tabs at the top of this box to learn about finding and creating permanent links.

Click the orange tabs above this box for:

  • examples of persistent links in specific databases
  • info about using a DOI as a permanent link

Omni offers the easiest way to create permanent links.  If you can find your item in Omni, try this first. It doesn't require a proxy prefix and it provides all the available options for retrieving the item, if it's available on multiple sites or formats.

The link below connects you to the "Permalinks" page on the Omni Guide.

Where to Look

You've found an online document, and now you want to be able to provide others with a link to that document.  Find a reliable permanent link.

  • Obtain the permanent link on the same page where you access the actual article
    • You may have gone through several databases to get there; use the link on the final page.
  • Look for the words "permalink", "durable url", "persistent link", "permanent link", or similar wording.  It's different on every site.
    • Sometimes you find it under a social media icon like "share" or "email".
  • A DOI may work - try it yourself.  If it gets you to the article, it will work for other Trent users (instructors, students). 
    • Be careful to right-click and copy the link, because it usually contains more information than what you're seeing in the text.
    • See details about DOIs by clicking on the "Using a DOI" tab.

Proxy Server for Off-Campus Access

There's one more step you need to take before you give this link to someone: authentication.  In many cases, only authorized users will be able to access a document.

Consider your audience and try to provide a link that works for them. If it's someone with Trent credentials who may be working from off-campus, include the proxy prefix.

The proxy prefix allows authorized Trent users access to documents that are available because our Library provides access.

Keep in mind that the proxy server is only useful for Library resources. 

  • If it's a free resource, or one that's not available through the Library, don't include the proxy prefix.

Helpful Links

Test Your Link

The only way to know if the link will work for someone else is to open a new & different browser, and paste the link into the address.  It has to be a different browser so that it has no memory of how you got there and it isn't already logged into the proxy server.  You'd be surprised what browser histories remember!

If you don't have more than one browser on your computer, consider adding one.  It's a good idea to have more than one browser, because many database features perform better in one or another browser.

  • Google "Firefox" or "Chrome" to download the latest version of a popular browser.

You could also try using a different computer or mobile device to check your link.

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