O'Reilly Hacks
oreilly.comO'Reilly NetworkSafari BookshelfConferences Sign In/My Account | View Cart   
Book List Learning Lab PDFs O'Reilly Gear Newsletters Press Room Jobs  

Buy the book!
PDF Hacks
By Sid Steward
August 2004
More Info

Create Interactive PDF with Your Word Processor
Interactive PDFs take advantage of the information in word processing documents to create navigation features such as bookmarks and hyperlinks
[Discuss (1) | Link to this hack]

Printing a document to create its PDF edition is common practice. It works beautifully, but it also leaves much behind. Document headings could have been turned into an outline of PDF bookmarks, and document links could have become live PDF links. Adding these features, shown in , will help ensure that your readers have the best possible reading experience.

Figure 1. Automatically adding PDF navigation features from your document's styles

The trick to creating an interactive PDF from your source document is to use PDF tools that understand your document's styles . Such tools typically integrate with your word processor.


On Mac OS X, you can Save As PDF from any application. That's a quick way to get PDF, but it doesn't create PDF navigation features that the methods described in this hack produce.

Microsoft Word and Adobe Acrobat's PDFMaker

During setup, Adobe Acrobat gives you the option to install its PDFMaker macro for Word. PDFMaker adds a menu to Word called Adobe PDF (Acrobat 6) or Acrobat (Acrobat 5). It also adds a toolbar with buttons that activate items from this menu. Select Adobe PDF → Convert to Adobe PDF or click the toolbar button ( ) to create your PDF. On the Macintosh, Acrobat installs only the toolbar, with no extra menus, providing very little control over its operation.

On Windows, configure PDFMaker by selecting Adobe PDF → Change Conversion Settings . . . from inside Word. The Conversion Settings drop-down box enables you to select a Distiller profile , just as you would if you were printing a PDF. The remaining tabs enable you to add encryption, links, metadata, bookmarks, and other nifty features to your PDF. One feature I specifically disable is Enable Accessibility and Reflow with Tagged PDF (Acrobat 6) or Embed Tags in PDF (Acrobat 5). This feature allows PDF to behave somewhat like HTML, but it can double (or more!) your PDF's file size. If you require HTML-like features, I recommend distributing an HTML edition alongside your PDF edition.


When creating a PDF with a custom page size using PDFMaker, your links might end up in the wrong place on the page. As a workaround, try using a larger, standard page size with larger page margins. Create your PDF and then crop it down to your custom page size in Acrobat.

Adobe offers various solutions for shifted PDF links at http://www.adobe.com/support/techdocs/19702.htm.

O'Reilly Home | Privacy Policy

© 2007 O'Reilly Media, Inc.
Website: | Customer Service: | Book issues:

All trademarks and registered trademarks appearing on oreilly.com are the property of their respective owners.