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I am trying to link words that show up anywhere on the website to go to a pre-defined internal url.

In the post editor the author is able to choose a product from a drop-down menu using custom fields to add to the post. Client-side, all the products chosen display inline separated by a comma. There is no limit to the amount of products that can be listed, and those names include hyphens and/or slashes. Example: AWESOME-2000 or RAD3/45

I have tried a variety of automatic linking plugins (such as ultimate seo and seo smart links) and all fall short in either being able to handle special characters in the term or they don't link anything in custom fields.

Does anyone have a suggestion of what else to try? I'm even willing to try adding a hook from functions.php to swap terms from a pre-define list, but I don't author php yet so have no idea where to start on that front (hence looking for plugin).

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The answer was right under my nose facepalm. In the custom field suite plugin, instead of entering ProductName-2000 : ProductName-2000 you enter <a href="http://www.site.com/ProductName-2000/">ProductName-2000</a> : ProductName-2000

I kinda wish i could delete this question... hope it helps someone else at least. :P

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No reason to delete it. Share what you have learned, even simple steps. One day someone will search for that. :) –  toscho Oct 18 '12 at 22:32
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