InDesign: Basic Interactive PDFs

Here’s a guide on how to create interactive PDFs on Adobe InDesign CS6 with hyperlinks, navigational buttons and bookmarks.

Before working on a new document, you will need to adjust the workspace to be specialised for interactivity.  Go Window > Workspace > [Interactive for PDF].  This will bring up all the menus you will need to successfully produce an interactive PDF.


Converting text, images or shapes into hyperlinks is simple.  First select the object of interest with the Selection Tool and open up the Hyperlinks menu on the right.  Click the Create new hyperlink icon on the bottom of the menu window.

interactive pdf


In the New Hyperlink window, you can link to websites (URLs), files, e-mail address, pages within the PDF document itself and text anchors.  However here I will just be linking the Academy Class logo to our website.

interactive pdf



In Adobe Acrobat Reader, there’s a menu which lists all the ‘bookmarks’ in a document.  Bookmarks work as tags that link you to a page in a document.  So for example, if you tagged an image of a basket of apples with the bookmark “apples”,  you can always jump back to that page from a bookmark menu.

Assigning bookmarks in InDesign is extremely simple.  First select the text or object you want to bookmark, then on the right open up the Bookmarks menu and press the Create new bookmark icon on the bottom.  In the example below I have selected the circle eagle image and have named it’s bookmark “Eagle”.

interactive pdf


Navigational Buttons

You can create buttons on your PDF just like on website.  This is useful for website and App prototyping.

Below I’ve drawn a couple of basic arrows and laid them out on the middle side-edges on the page.  Select the one of the right and open the Buttons and Forms menu on the right-hand side.

interactive pdf


To convert the arrow into a “next” button, select on the Type drop-down Button.

interactive pdf


Next, press the + icon next to Action and select Go To Next Page – this will now make the arrow into a button that sends you to the next page when you click it.

interactive pdf


Repeat the process again for the left arrow, but this time set the Action to Go To Previous Page.


Exporting the Document into an Interactive PDF

Once you’re ready to publish your document, you will need to export it with the right settings for it to become an interactive PDF.

To do this, go File > Export or press Cmd + E (for Mac).  Make sure the Format is set to Adobe PDF (Interactive).

interactive pdf


After you click save, you’ll be prompted with another window.  Make sure the settings are right and hit OK.  Your PDF should be ready to use.

interactive pdf

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If you’re interested in learning more about Adobe InDesign, then we offer a range of high quality courses at different proficiency levels, in numerous cities across the UK.