InDesign Insider Training: Interactive PDFs
Illustration by John Hersey

InDesign Insider Training: Interactive PDFs

with David Blatner

Video: Page and anchor links

In the last movie I talked about making hyperlinks that

Start your free trial now, and begin learning software, business and creative skills—anytime, anywhere—with video instruction from recognized industry experts.

Start Your Free Trial Now
please wait ...
Watch the Online Video Course InDesign Insider Training: Interactive PDFs
2h 22m Intermediate Jul 23, 2013 Updated Jan 17, 2014

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

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
David Blatner

Page and anchor links

In the last movie I talked about making hyperlinks that point outside your document, such as URLs, and email links. Now let's talk about navigation, that is hyperlinks that take you somewhere inside your PDF. These are called page links and anchor links. Creating page and anchor links turns out to be super important, when it comes to reading PDFs on a tablet. Most people who make interactive PDFs use buttons to navigate from one page to another, and I'll be talking about buttons in a later chapter. But unfortunately, buttons are not reliable on tablets, so I generally recommend that people use hyperlinks instead, which almost always work.

Before we make our first page or anchor link, I want to point out that if you've already used InDesign's table of contents feature or the index feature or the cross references, all of those page numbers are automatically turned into hyperlink's for you when you export your PDF. For example, I have my interactive catalog open here and I'm going to press Shift + page down a couple of times to see my table of contents page. Now this table of contents was created by going to the Layout menu and choosing Table of Contents. So, I know that all of this text and all of these numbers are automatically linked to those pages in the document.

Now if I look in my Hyperlinks panel, you'll see that those links do not show up here, but they will work when I export the PDF. That is a big time savings. I would not want to try and create each one of those manually. But sometimes you do need to build your own hyperlinks that jump to a page in a PDF. For example, I'm going to zoom into this text up here by holding on Cmd + Spacebar or Ctrl + Spacebar in Windows, and I want to select some of the text in here, so I'll double-click with a selection tool, which switches to the type tool automatically, and then I can select the text, one of our four campuses.

I want that text, when anybody clicks on it, to take them to page 11. I happen to know that that's where the campus's page is. So, to do that, I'm going to create either a page link or a text anchor link. Let's start with making a page link. In the Hyperlinks panel, I'll simply click on the new hyperlink button. Then, from the link to popup menu, I'm going to choose Page. Now all I have to do is type in exactly what page I wanted to go to. I'm going to have it go to page 11. Underneath there, you can see that you can choose a Zoom Setting.

In other words, after jumping to that page, what magnification do you want to be at? I usually chose Fit in Window. That makes sure the whole page fits inside the Acrobat window. Notice that you can also apply a character style to this hyperlink. I have already made a character style in this document, called hyperlink, so I'll choose that here, then I'll click OK. If I click out here to deselect my text, you can see that the character style has been applied, that's that thin orange line underneath the text. And more importantly, you can see that our hyperlink shows up at the bottom of our Hyperlinks panel.

There it is. One of our four campuses. That's the text that I had selected, so it made that the name of the hyperlink in the Hyperlinks panel. If I hover over that hyperlink, InDesign tells me that it's going to take me to page 11. Also over here in the right column, I can see a little page icon that tells me this is in fact a page hyperlink. Let's try it out. A click on that icon and InDesign jumps right to that page and it fits the page in window, just the way I asked it to, but there is one problem with these kinds of page links and that is: what happens if you add a page or remove a page or the page gets shuffled somehow? A page 11 link is always going to go to page 11.

So because of that, I tend not to use page links as much as anchor links. So let me show you how to make an anchor link? Anchor links always have to go inside a text frame. It can even be an empty text frame anywhere on the page, it doesn't really matter. But in this case, I have a text frame already, so I'm just going to click here, before the T in The Campus. And I'm going to add an anchor into that position. To do that, I'll go to the Hyperlinks panel menu and I'll choose New Hyperlink Destination. So I'm creating a destination here and the destination is going to be the type of Text Anchor.

Now all I have to do is name it. I'll call this campus page. Now I click OK. And it added the anchor into that position. I can't see the anchor here on my page, but I know it's there and I know that I can point to it. So I'm going to click this little page number next to this hyperlink that I've just created and that takes me back to the source. Back to that original text. And now I'm going to double-click on my hyperlink to edit it. In this case instead of a Page Link To, I'm going to choose Text Anchor. And because there's the only one text anchor in this document, it chooses that for me automatically in the text anchor popup menu.

If I had more than one, I would have to choose that out of this popup menu here. Now, if you're paying attention, you'll notice that there's another popup menu just above that called Document. And this is interesting, this will actually show all the documents that are currently open right now in InDesign. Or, I could even choose Browse, to choose a different InDesign document on disk. But I have to warn you, it's not a good idea. Instead, I always recommend that people link inside one document, just the document you're working on. I've just seen to many wierd problems trying to do cross document linking.

Okay, now when I click OK, it doesn't look like anything is changed. But if you look over here on the right column of the right side of this hyperlink. The icon has changed, and that tells me that it's pointing to a text anchor. Not a page. Let's try it. I'll click on the text anchor and boom. It takes me right to that place. It even places the text cursor in the text. So, text anchors are very easy to make and they're very flexible. For example, you could move the text anchor to a different page. And all the links that were pointing to that text anchor, would update to point there instead.

In fact, an anchor is literally just some invisible text inside that frame. You can see that by opening the story editor. For example, I'll go to the Edit menu, and choose Edit in Story Editor. And there it is. Right up at the top. See that thing that looks a little bit like a target? That's the text anchor. It's just a character. You could select this and cut it to the clipboard. Paste it somewhere else if you wanted to. And then all of your links would update to take you that new location.

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

Expand all | Collapse all
please wait ...
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.
Share a link to this course

What are exercise files?

Exercise files are the same files the author uses in the course. Save time by downloading the author's files instead of setting up your own files, and learn by following along with the instructor.

Can I take this course without the exercise files?

Yes! If you decide you would like the exercise files later, you can upgrade to a premium account any time.

Become a member Download sample files See plans and pricing

Please wait... please wait ...
Upgrade to get access to exercise files.

Exercise files video

How to use exercise files.

Learn by watching, listening, and doing, Exercise files are the same files the author uses in the course, so you can download them and follow along Premium memberships include access to all exercise files in the library.

Exercise files

Exercise files video

How to use exercise files.

For additional information on downloading and using exercise files, watch our instructional video or read the instructions in the FAQ .

This course includes free exercise files, so you can practice while you watch the course. To access all the exercise files in our library, become a Premium Member.

Join now Already a member? Log in

* Estimated file size

Are you sure you want to mark all the videos in this course as unwatched?

This will not affect your course history, your reports, or your certificates of completion for this course.

Mark all as unwatched Cancel


You have completed InDesign Insider Training: Interactive PDFs.

Return to your organization's learning portal to continue training, or close this page.

Become a member to add this course to a playlist

Join today and get unlimited access to the entire library of video courses—and create as many playlists as you like.

Get started

Already a member ?

Exercise files

Learn by watching, listening, and doing! Exercise files are the same files the author uses in the course, so you can download them and follow along. Exercise files are available with all Premium memberships. Learn more

Get started

Already a Premium member?

Exercise files video

How to use exercise files.

Ask a question

Thanks for contacting us.
You’ll hear from our Customer Service team within 24 hours.

Please enter the text shown below:

The classic layout automatically defaults to the latest Flash Player.

To choose a different player, hold the cursor over your name at the top right of any page and choose Site preferences from the dropdown menu.

Continue to classic layout Stay on new layout
Exercise files

Access exercise files from a button right under the course name.

Mark videos as unwatched

Remove icons showing you already watched videos if you want to start over.

Control your viewing experience

Make the video wide, narrow, full-screen, or pop the player out of the page into its own window.

Interactive transcripts

Click on text in the transcript to jump to that spot in the video. As the video plays, the relevant spot in the transcript will be highlighted.

Learn more, save more. Upgrade today!

Get our Annual Premium Membership at our best savings yet.

Upgrade to our Annual Premium Membership today and get even more value from your subscription:

“In a way, I feel like you are rooting for me. Like you are really invested in my experience, and want me to get as much out of these courses as possible this is the best place to start on your journey to learning new material.”— Nadine H.

Thanks for signing up.

We’ll send you a confirmation email shortly.

Sign up and receive emails about and our online training library:

Here’s our privacy policy with more details about how we handle your information.

Keep up with news, tips, and latest courses with emails from

Sign up and receive emails about and our online training library:

Here’s our privacy policy with more details about how we handle your information.

submit Lightbox submit clicked
Terms and conditions of use

We've updated our terms and conditions (now called terms of service).Go
Review and accept our updated terms of service.