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I have a contact email address in my page layout. I want to make that link clickable, but doesn't work in the href tag. What is the best way to get this to work in the page layout? Do I need to use jquery for this, we are trying to avoid that but if its my only option I guess Ill need to go that route.

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if I'm not wrong you can try to use SPContext.Current.Item in the page layout like this

<a href='<%= SPContext.Current.Item["filedName"] ?? "/" %>'>Link</a>
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I cant use code blocks in the page layout, thanks for the suggestion though – Cory Feb 25 '13 at 19:36
Can you store your data as a string with tag "a" in you field and use this line of code <SharePoint:FieldValue id="someid" FieldName="FieldName" runat="server"/>? – Alexander Feb 25 '13 at 19:49
nope tried that too, its looking like Ill need to use jquery – Cory Feb 25 '13 at 20:02
have you tried to use Hyperlink field type to store data? and FieldValue control? – Alexander Feb 25 '13 at 20:09
I found this post. In this post the link is built for Lookup field. I think that it should work for your field too. – Alexander Feb 25 '13 at 20:11

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