Scroll to text fragments

I ran a Google search this morning for s3-credentials simon willison and when I clicked on the top result it jumped me to a highlighted snippet of text on the page, despite that page not having relevant anchor links.

A Google search for s3-credentials simon willison - the top result is a featured snippet containing some highlighted text. Next to that is a screenshot of the linked page - those text snippets are still highlighted there.

I decided to figure out how that worked.

The Google search result linked to the following URL:,my%20click%2Dapp%20cookicutter%20template.&text=The%20main%20command%20is%20s3,the%20above%20sequence%20of%20steps.&text=The%20command%20shows%20each%20step,access%20key%20and%20secret%20key.

The magic is in that #:~: section of the URL fragment. In this case it has three text= parameters, each of which is a URL encoded string. Decoded, those are:

This is a relatively new web standard called URL Fragment Text Directives, also sometimes referred to as URL Scroll-To-Text Fragment.

Here's the spec: URL Fragment Text Directives - categorized as a "Draft Community Group Report". It's published by the W3C's Web Incubator Community Group (WICG).

It's currently supported by Chrome and Safari. Safari added support last year - here's their launch announcement from Oct 24, 2022.

It's not available in Firefox yet, but they've publicly committed to adding support:

There's a bunch more to it than just text= - see the syntax guide for more details. The full grammar looks like this:


The square bracket parts are optional, and provide additional context to clarify the match.

Note that commas that should be literally matched in the text are encoded as %2C, avoiding clashes with the above syntax.

To highlight a sentence that starts "Datasette is" and ends "accompanying API" you would use this:


The prefix- bit specifies a prefix that should not be highlighted but does need to be present for the match to happen - same with -suffix.

So you can match "is a tool" but only if it follows the text "Datasette" using:


Created 2023-08-08T08:08:52-07:00 · Edit