Back link

Use the back link component to help users go back to the previous page in a multi-page transaction.

WCAG 2.2

New WCAG 2.2 criteria affect this component

To use the ‘Back link’ and comply with new success criteria introduced in Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.2, make sure that users can successfully:

See the full list of components and patterns affected by WCAG 2.2.

Although browsers have a back button, some sites break when you use it - so many users avoid it, instead of losing their progress in a service. Also, not all users are aware of the back button.

When to use this component

Always include the back link component on GOV.UK question pages.

You can include a back link on other pages within a multi-page transaction, if it makes sense to do so.

When not to use this component

Never use the back link component together with breadcrumbs. If necessary, you should do research with your users to learn which they find more helpful in your service.

How it works

Always place back links at the top of a page, before the <main> element. Placing them here means that the ‘Skip to main content’ link allows the user to skip all navigation links, including the back link.

Make sure the link takes users to the previous page they were on, in the state they last saw it.

WCAG 2.2

If a user decides to go back to a previous page, make sure information they have already entered is pre-populated.

Do not pre-populate if the information is no longer valid, or when pre-populating would be a major safety or security concern. This is to comply with WCAG 2.2 success criterion 3.3.7 Redundant entry.

Where possible, ensure the back link works even when JavaScript is not available. If this is not possible, you should hide the back link when JavaScript is not available.

There are 2 ways to use the back link component. You can use HTML or, if you are using Nunjucks or the GOV.UK Prototype Kit, you can use the Nunjucks macro.

Using the default link text (‘Back’) is ideal for services with a simple journey. For example, applying for a National Insurance number. Users will only ever go back to the previous page in the service.

For more complex user journeys, consider using different link text, like ‘Go back to [page]’. For example, in an admin system with many different areas. In this case, if you used ‘Back’, it might not be clear to users what they are going back to.

Use the govuk-back-link--inverse modifier class to show a white link on a dark background – for example, in headers, custom components, and patterns with darker backgrounds.

Make sure all users can see the back link – the background colour must have a contrast ratio of at least 4.5:1 with white.

Help improve this component

To help make sure that this page is useful, relevant and up to date, you can:

Tell us if your service uses this component

Take part in our usage survey (opens in a new tab) to help us improve this component to better meet the needs of the services that use it.

Need help?

If you’ve got a question about the GOV.UK Design System, contact the team.