Interactive PDF: Graphical Hyperlinks and Nested Master Pages in InDesign

Design and Photography by Codify Design Studio.

by Chris Converse

posted on 05-23-2018

Hyperlinks can do more than link to web sites. Combining hyperlinks with text and page anchors allows you to provide quick access to key areas of your PDF document. Applying hyperlinks with master pages allows you to quickly manage a navigation system throughout all of your pages.

Hyperlinks can be added and managed within InDesign from the Hyperlinks panel, located under the Window > Interactive menu. To create a hyperlink to a website, select some text in your layout, then click the “create new hyperlink” icon. In the new hyperlink dialog box, choose URL in the “link to” dropdown menu, then enter the full URL, including “http://” in the URL field. Choose an optional character style or PDF appearance if you wish, then click OK. Your new URL-based hyperlink will show in the list of links associated with the InDesign document.

If you’d like to speed-up the hyperlink creation process, simply select some text, then add a full website URL into the URL field in the Hyperlinks panel and press the return key. This will create a new hyperlink with all of the previously used settings.

Creating page and text anchors

Text and page anchors provide you with a way to add an invisible object, or destination point, within your InDesign document. These anchors can be set as the target, or destination of a hyperlink. What’s even more useful is that these anchors move with the page or text that they are assigned to — so if you add or remove pages or text, your hyperlinks will still go to the correct destination.

To create a page anchor, navigate to the desired page in InDesign, then select New Hyperlink Destination from the Hyperlink panel’s flyout menu. The New Hyperlink Destination dialog box will default to setting the type of destination to a page, and the name and page number of the document will match the page you are currently viewing. There is also an option to change the zoom setting of the page when a reader goes to this anchor in the resulting PDF.

You can change the name of the page anchor to make it easier to locate later. In the example above, I’ll keep the name that was automatically generated from my selected text.

Advanced tip
You do not need to navigate to a specific page in InDesign before creating page anchors. It is possible to set all of your page anchors from the Hyperlinks panel while viewing any page in your document. Once you define a new hyperlink destination, choose your desired page number from the page dropdown menu.

Text anchors work a lot like page anchors, except they are inserted into the text of your document. To create a text anchor, select some text within your InDesign document, such as a heading, then choose the New Hyperlink Destination item from the Hyperlinks panel flyout menu.

The selected text will be the default name given to your new text anchor. You can rename your text anchor. Keep in mind that each text anchor needs a unique name. If you want to see exactly where your text anchor is being assigned, you can see it in the story editor. With either the text frame or some text selected, choose Edit in Story Editor from the Edit menu. In the editor you’ll see a small target icon that represents the text anchor.

Linking to page and text anchors

Now that we have some page and text anchors in our document, we can now make hyperlinks that will link to those internal destinations. I’ll start by selecting some text in my layout, then adding a hyperlink to that text by clicking the Create New Hyperlink icon in the Hyperlinks panel. In the dialog box, I’ll change the “Link To” option to a text anchor, then select the text anchor I’d like to link to from the Text Anchor dropdown menu.

Hyperlinks can be applied to objects, as well as text, within your InDesign document. This means we can link graphic objects to page or text anchors. This technique allows you to provide a more visual navigation system to your PDF file while maintaining compatibility across all devices.

First, I’ll create a new master page named “C–Nav,” then I’ll import a checklist graphic from Illustrator. Next I’ll select the graphic and add a hyperlink that links to a text anchor I created for the checklist page. I’ll repeat the process to create a series of links that go to the first, contents, and the contact pages.

Now, to apply the navigation master page to other master pages, we’ll make use of InDesign’s ability to nest one master page into another. To achieve this, I’ll click and drag the C-Nav master page icon and drop it directly on top of the two other master pages. This will, in turn, combine the navigation elements of master page C with the elements of master pages A and B.

For a detailed video walkthrough of this workflow, check out this recorded webinar titled Creating Interactive PDFs from InDesign.

Watch these features in action

Join Chris Converse in the recorded webinar and learn how features such as table of contents, hyperlinks, nested styles, and nested master pages to create a user-friendly interactive PDF for desktop computers and mobile devices.

In this session you’ll learn to:

Adobe Creative Cloud e-learning series:

Creating Interactive PDFs from InDesign

Topics: Creativity

Products: InDesign