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InDesign Insider Training: Interactive PDFs

Links to URLs and mail addresses


InDesign Insider Training: Interactive PDFs

with David Blatner

Video: Links to URLs and mail addresses

The simplest kind of interactivity is a hyperlink. Now I am going to select that text and I like this method because it gives you the most control; Lets go ahead and click

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InDesign Insider Training: Interactive PDFs
2h 22m Intermediate Jul 23, 2013 Updated Jan 17, 2014

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While PDFs can be used for printing, they also have interactive features that make them great for forms, brochures, and prototypes. In this course, InDesign insider David Blatner tells you what interactive PDFs are, why they're so useful, and how to make them yourself with Adobe InDesign and Acrobat. Learn to make hyperlinks to websites, other pages in your document, and email; add buttons that navigate, show, and hide content; create a form with check boxes and text entry fields; and embed audio and video. Plus, discover how to add polish with calculations, page transitions, and more.

Topics include:
  • Creating a new interactive document
  • Linking to URLs and mail addresses
  • Creating bookmarks
  • Adding buttons with rollover states
  • Adding text, list, and submit fields to forms
  • Embedding audio and video
  • Adding page transitions
  • Best practices for exporting high-quality interactive PDF files
Design Digital Publishing PDF
David Blatner

Links to URLs and mail addresses

The simplest kind of interactivity is a hyperlink. A hot spot in your document that takes you somewhere. But how do you make hyperlinks? Well, the hyperlinks panel of course. I have the hyperlinks panel right here in my dock. So I can just click on it to open it. But if you don't have it in your dock, you can always go to the Window menu. Choose the interactive sub menu and then choose hyperlinks. But, before I go ahead and make a hyperlink, I want to point out that sometimes you don't need to make hyperlinks in your PDF. For example, if there are very obvious URLs in your document, something that has a http:// before it, or maybe even just www before it In those cases, Adobe Acrobat for the desktop can usually see those and convert them into hyperlinks for you.

However, when it comes to URLs for this one, that don't have a www before them. Well, in that case, you need to make your own hyperlinks here on InDesign. And actually, none of the tablet PDF readers that I've tried, seem to convert URLs into hyperlinks on the fly. So really, if there's any chance that your PDF is going to end up on a tablet, you want to make your own hyperlinks in InDesign. It's just the safe thing to do. So, okay, how do you make a hyperlink? Well, as I always say, the more important something is, the more ways you should be able to do it.

So, I guess hyperlinks are pretty important because, there are like, five ways to make them here, each with its own twist. One method, is to open the hyperlinks panel menu, and choose convert URLs to hyperlinks. This opens this dialog box that acts kind of like the Find Changed dialog box, but it finds anything that looks like a hyperlink and, well makes it a hyperlink. Not only that, but if you have a built a character style that you want to apply to any hyperlink text, then you can apply that here too. I'm not going to do that though, but there's a pretty big problem with this dialog box.

For example, I'll click find, and it finds the first instance right there. It says, that looks like it should have a URL. Now, you could apply a hyperlink by clicking the convert button. Or skip it by clicking find next. Now, you might be tempted to click, convert all, but don't do it. This one makes me really nervous. Partly, because it might apply hyperlinks to stuff in my document that I don't want it to. But also, because you often need to. Fix stuff that the convert the URLs to hyperlinks dialogue box does, that's the problem. Let me show you. I'll click convert, and you see that the hyperlink immediately shows up in the hyperlink's panel.

And that looks pretty neat, but it's not. It's not because it doesn't have the HTTP : // in front of it. In design really should have that for you automatically but you have to do it yourself, cause if you don't it won't work when you open it in Acrobat. Fortunately, its pretty easy to edit, you just come over here to this field at the top of the hyperlinks panel, click at the very beginning, and type it yourself. So its not at the convert your else to hyperlink dialog box is bad, its just that it usually requires extra work. I'm going to click done here and look at some of the other hyperlinking options.

Let's select this next line of text, the email address. Because it's obviously an email address or URL, I could go to the hyperlinks panel menu, and choose New Hyperlink from URL. In this case, In-Design doesn't just make it a hyperlink, but it names it inside the hyperlinks panel list with the text I had selected, which I find really useful. Okay, now let's add a hyperlink to this piece of text way down here in the lower left corner. I can see these dots around the frame which tells me it's a master page item, so I'd better switch to the master page to edit it.

Now I am going to select that text and zoom into 200% by pressing Cmd+2 or Ctrl+2 on Windows. If I had already made a hyperlink that goes to this url then it would be really easy to apply it here, I could just go up here to this pop up menu and choose it from this list. For example, I'll choose this one that i just made, it applied the hyperlink and you can see that it nested these two hyperlinks together, underneath this expansion triangle thing. But this is obviously not right, so I'm going to undo that with a Cmd+Z or Ctrl+Z on Windows. And instead, I'm going to come up here and replace this with my own URL, I'll just call it Roo academy Dot com.

Then, when I press Return or Enter it makes the hyperlink for me. So, that's a pretty fast way to make a hyperlink but, I want to show you how I usually make links. First, I'm going to drag this link to the trash icon to delete it just so I can make it again in a different way. You can see this URL still here up in the field but, that's just a display bug. It's not really linked to anything because, nothing shows up down here in the list. Now, the text is still selected on my page, so I'm going to go over and click the new hyperlink button at the bottom of the hyperlinks panel. I like this method because it gives you the most control; like I can choose what kind of link I want this to be in the Link To popup menu Right now it's a URL link, but I could make it an email link if I wanted too.

This is a really nice easy user interface for making links. I'm going to talk about some of these other options like page and text anchor in the next movie. So, in this case, we're just going to go with URL. This dialogue box also lets me apply a character style. See this hyperlink style? That's actually not in my document but if I choose it, InDesign will make the style for me and it'll apply it, just as kind of a convenience. The style it makes is all blue and underlined, kind of like a webpage, so it's not very pretty, but you could edit it later in the Character styles panel to make it nicer. Anyway, I'm not going to apply a character style here.

Down at the bottom of the dialog box, we have the PDF appearance section. And this lets you tell Acrobat, or whatever's displaying the PDF, how you want the URL to look. How you want the hyperlink to appear in the PDF. And by default, it's set to invisible rectangle, and that's typically what you want. The alternative is visible rectangle, which looks really clunky. I don't recommend that. The last option I want to point out is this check box, shared hyperlink destination. The concept of a shared hyperlink destination, is that sometimes you want to make a hyperlink and then use it a whole bunch of times.

Maybe you'd make a hyperlink to your companies website and then you'd make ten or 20 different links to it in your document. Later, if you need to change the URL, you could just change it once, and all the links would update because they all share the same destination, right? Shared destination hyperlinks. I'll be talking about this more later in the chapter. So finally, up here in the URL field, I could just type my URL. Or, because I made it once before, I could pull it out of this pop up menu. Lets go ahead and click OK and we are going to make one last typer click. I want this whole logo to be a link to the same place.

Now, I could apply the link to the graphic frame itself using the selection tool but I want people to have to click exactly on the logo. So, I am going to use a trick. I am going to grab the frame tool. And I'm going to make a big empty frame right on top of that. Then I'm going to go back to the selection tool, go over to the hyperlinks panel, and choose the URL out of this pop-up menu. Now that whole area is a link. That's right. You can apply a hyperlink to either text or an object, and you can see that on the page you get this really thick dashed line around it.

That indicates that it's a hyperlink. Down here in the Hyperlinks panel list, we see that it's named, 'rectangle'. That's not very helpful. But it doe's bring up an important point. The name listed in the panel is just a name. It doesn't necessarily reflect the Hyperlink. In fact, I could rename this link anything I want. Like, if I want to rename this I just click on the name, wait for a moment and then click again. Or, you could choose rename from the panel menu here. Every hyperlink in the hyperlinks panel has to have a unique name, and it's good to call it something descriptive so you know exactly what this is.

I'll just call this logo on master page. Okay, so that's pretty good, but what if you want to edit one of the hyperlinks. Let's say I wanted to change the subject line of this male hyperlink up here. Well, the first thing you need to know is that you can click on one of these hyperlinks anytime. This is one of the few panels in InDesign that you don't have to worry about clicking or double-clicking on and having it change something on your document. So I could just go ahead and double-click on this link, even though I have the object selected down here on the page. It does not apply this link to any selected objects.

So, I'll just double-click on this link and up comes the edit hyperlink dialog box. And I could change this here. For example, I could add a subject line to this email, 'Portfolio Inquiry'. And then I will click OK. Alright, finally I better explain what all these other's links and icons are up here in this panel. These were first introduced in the build of design in CC released in early 2014. And these underlying numbers over here are pages in your document, and if you click on one, like I will click on this one up here, it actually takes you to that link.

It's the same thing as going to the panel menu, and choosing Go To Source. Now these icons on the right, indicate the destination. This envelope icon means that this a mail hyperlink of course. And the green icon means that it's going to go to a URL, and that InDesign has determined, that the link is really working. The red icon means it's a web address, but that the link doesn't work. That's often a good way to test whether you've made a mistake in the URL, and in fact, you can always test these just by clicking on any of these icons. That will actually launch your web browser and take you there.

Okay, let's go ahead an make the PDF by going to the File menu, choosing Export, and then I'm going to choose Adobe PDF Interactive from the Format menu. In this case, because I'm just testing this one page, I'm just going to export page number four. Then I'll click OK, and InDesign exports this to the desktop and up it comes in Acrobat. I'll move over here and you'll see the cursor changes, and there we go, in the tool tip it shows me it's a mailto link. Also down here, anywhere over this logo I move, I get the same URL. What about down here? No matter where I place my cursor down here, I get the link to that place.

Then all I have to do is click on it and up it comes in my web browser. Now that you understand the basics of making hyperlinks to web addresses, in the next movie I'll discuss page and anchor links which take you to places inside your PDF. You definitely need to know about these, especially if your PDFs are going to be viewed on a tablet.

Find answers to the most frequently asked questions about InDesign Insider Training: Interactive PDFs.

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Q: I am trying to turn objects in a layered InDesign document into buttons, following the lessons in Chapter 3, but they don't show up when I export to PDF. What's wrong?
A: This is a known issue with InDesign, stacked layers, and buttons. The final stacking order in your PDF is actually determined by the order the buttons are created, not the stacking order of the layers in your document. David Blatner has researched and proposed a solution to this issue on his InDesign Secrets blog. Read more about it here.
Q: This course was updated on 01/17/2014. What changed?
A: The author updated three movies in the "Links and Bookmarks" chapter, since the behavior of hyperlinks has recently changed in InDesign CC.
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