Add links to your PDFs in Adobe Acrobat and turn them into interactive pages for zines or simple, dynamic emails in just a few steps.

Whether you’re adding links to a digital zine or emailing an image with embedded links, creating buttons and links in PDFs with Adobe Acrobat is easy once you know what to do. In this tutorial, I’ll show you how to make links in just a few steps, and you’ll be expanding the functionality of your work, as well as your knowledge base, in no time.


1. Make a PDF

If you’re using a layout program like Adobe InDesign, you’ll have more options for quality and size, which you can tweak in Acrobat. Otherwise, use this guide for other options for making PDFs.

To make a PDF in InDesign, go to File > Export, or hit Command + E in your file. From this window, choose a location to save your file. From the Format drop-down, choose Adobe PDF (Interactive).

How to Create An Interactive PDF In 3 Easy Steps — Create PDF

Choose a name and hit Save.

The next window presents options for the compression and detailed aspects of your file. We just need to make sure our PDF has a nice resolution. From the Export window, choose Compression on the left sidebar. Then choose “JPEG (Lossy)” from the Compression dropdown.

Under JPEG Quality, choose Medium. If you find that some very small details are getting blurred or smeared in your file, you can come back and re-save, but usually “Medium” is high-enough quality without adding too much to the file size..

Click the Resolution (ppl) dropdown, and choose 144. This will make sure your art looks good on modern high-resolution screens.

How to Create An Interactive PDF In 3 Easy Steps — Export

Hit Export to finish the process.


2. Create a Link in Adobe Acrobat

Open the PDF in Acrobat. On the right edge of the window is a tiny arrow pointing to the left. Click that and choose Edit PDF, which will bring up more options in the same sidebar. For our purposes, you only need to click off Show bounding boxes if they are distracting.

Now click Link in the menu bar at the top. Choose the first option, Add/Edit Web or Document Link.

As soon as you click this, your cursor will turn into crosshairs. Simply click and drag a rectangle where you want the link to be. If it’s one of the icons, draw a box around it. If you want the whole image to be clickable, just draw a box over the whole thing.

How to Create An Interactive PDF In 3 Easy Steps — Create a Link

Now you’ll see the window for Create Link. In Link Type, you’ll usually choose Invisible Rectangle so you can control the look of your links with actual designs.

To Add a URL Linked To An External Web Page

For single-image PDFs, such as an email that takes the customer to a website, use Open a web page from this window. Click Next.

How to Create An Interactive PDF In 3 Easy Steps — Edit url

Here is where you’ll enter your exact URL. It’s best to have the page up in your browser, then copy the address bar and paste here. That way you don’t mis-type and send users to a broken link. You can always check after you’re done.

Hit OK, and your link is live and ready to go.

To Add a Page Jump In a Multi-Page PDF

If you’re sending out the whole multi-page PDF, say, as an attachment, and want to allow your readers to jump to certain pages with a click, follow the same process, simply drag a button over an icon. But this time choose Go to a page view.

How to Create An Interactive PDF In 3 Easy Steps — Add a Page Jump

Scroll to the page you want the link to target by moving the scroll bar to bring up that page. Then hit Set Link.

Continue this process for the rest of the page links, until you have covered the page with links.


3. Check Your Links

Read “Check Your Links” in All Caps. It’s really important. You want people to go to the place where they expect to end up, lest your work be futile and you earn a reputation as someone who doesn’t care.

To get to a live view of your PDF, hit the X in the upper right corner to close the Edit pane. Now you can hover over your links to make sure you got them all, and click them to make sure they go to the right place.

To Edit a Link

If you find your link is wrong, start over, and open the Edit pane, then hit the Link button again. Choose Add/Edit Web or Document Link.

How to Create An Interactive PDF In 3 Easy Steps — Edit a Link

Double-click the link you want to edit, bringing up the Link Properties box. Click Actions at the top. Highlight the link and hit Edit. Enter the corrected link and hit OK. Now you’re all set.

Cover image: icons via Perfect Vectors, torn paper via Flas100, texture overlay via mikeledray.


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