Join David Blatner for an in-depth discussion in this video What is an interactive PDF?, part of InDesign: Interactive PDFs (2013).
In one sense, every PDF file is an interactive PDF. I mean, you interact with it while you're reading it, right? But generally, we use the term interactive PDF when we're talking about a PDF file that is meant to be viewed on screen. And the interactive PDF features are the parts of a PDF that take your audience beyond the basic reading experience, where they're just looking at a page, and give them more, like buttons that let them navigate around the file. Videos that explain the subject in detail, windows that can open and close, hyperlinks, sounds, even check boxes, and text entry fields. You might use interactive PDFs for online publications like we do with InDesign magazine.
We've been producing this magazine for almost a decade, and the whole thing is designed to be read on screen, though I have met folks who religiously print out each issue and put them in binders to read. I use Interactive PDF for presentation slides, because InDesign offers far more control over typography and page design than PowerPoint or Keynote. You might use Interactive PDF for forms that someone can download and fill out, submitting the data right into a spreadsheet for you to analyze. PDFs are of course great for books and documentation.
But when you add some interactivity, you can turn a document into an experience that will draw your reader in and hold their attention longer. And best of all, interactive PDFs are easy to make, easy to distribute and easy to read on virtually any device.
- 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
Skill Level Intermediate
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.