Create Interactive PDF with Your Word Processor

Create Interactive PDF with Your Word Processor

figs/beginner.gif figs/hack32.gif

Interactive PDFs take advantage of the information in word processing documents to create navigation features such as bookmarks and hyperlinks.

Printing a document to create its PDF edition is common practice. It works beautifully, but it also leaves much behind. Document headings could have been turned into an outline of PDF bookmarks, and document links could have become live PDF links. Adding these features, shown in Figure, will help ensure that your readers have the best possible reading experience.

Automatically adding PDF navigation features from your document's styles

The trick to creating an interactive PDF from your source document is to use PDF tools that understand your document's styles [Hack #24] . Such tools typically integrate with your word processor.

On Mac OS X, you can Save As PDF [Hack #40] from any application. That's a quick way to get PDF, but it doesn't create PDF navigation features that the methods described in this hack produce.

1 Microsoft Word and Adobe Acrobat's PDFMaker

During setup, Adobe Acrobat gives you the option to install its PDFMaker macro for Word. PDFMaker adds a menu to Word called Adobe PDF (Acrobat 6) or Acrobat (Acrobat 5). It also adds a toolbar with buttons that activate items from this menu. Select Adobe PDF Convert to Adobe PDF or click the toolbar button ( figs/inline0401.gif) to create your PDF. On the Macintosh, Acrobat installs only the toolbar, with no extra menus, providing very little control over its operation.

On Windows, configure PDFMaker by selecting Adobe PDF Change Conversion Settings . . . from inside Word. The Conversion Settings drop-down box enables you to select a Distiller profile [Hack #38], just as you would if you were printing a PDF. The remaining tabs enable you to add encryption, links, metadata, bookmarks, and other nifty features to your PDF. One feature I specifically disable is Enable Accessibility and Reflow with Tagged PDF (Acrobat 6) or Embed Tags in PDF (Acrobat 5). This feature allows PDF to behave somewhat like HTML, but it can double (or more!) your PDF's file size. If you require HTML-like features, I recommend distributing an HTML edition [Hack #35] alongside your PDF edition.

When creating a PDF with a custom page size using PDFMaker, your links might end up in the wrong place on the page. As a workaround, try using a larger, standard page size with larger page margins. Create your PDF and then crop it down [Hack #59] to your custom page size in Acrobat.

Adobe offers various solutions for shifted PDF links at

2 Microsoft Word and GhostWord on Windows

GhostWord is a Ghostscript interface that integrates with Word. It adds a toolbar button to Word that launches the GhostWord GUI, shown in Figure. Use the GUI to convert the currently active Word document to full-featured PDF. You can also run the GUI outside of Word. GhostWord even has a command-line interface.

Managing PDF feature settings and Ghostscript PDF creation settings from the GhostWord GUI

GhostWord can add bookmarks, links, metadata, and display settings to your PDF. It also manages your Ghostscript settings. Select a hardcoded Ghostscript profile from the Document Optimize PDF for: drop-down box, or tweak Ghostscript settings individually under the Converter Settings tab. Save these settings to a configuration file for later retrieval.

GhostWord is distributed free of charge from

GhostWord, along with the Gs4Word, PDF Tweaker, and extendedPDF macros, all require Ghostscript, a free program that works like Adobe's Distiller. To install Ghostscript, see [Hack #39] .

3 Microsoft Word and Gs4Word on Windows

Gs4Word is a Word macro that interfaces with Ghostscript. It adds a menu to Word called PDF and a shortcut button to Word's Standard toolbar. It can add bookmarks, metadata, and display setting to your PDF. Its configuration dialog enables you to manage a set of Ghostscript profiles. Set your desired profile with the PDF Configure . . . PDF File Output Medium drop-down box.

The Gs4Word home page ( is in German, but you can configure the program's interface to use English.

4 Sun StarOffice, OpenOffice, and extendedPDF

Newer versions of OpenOffice can create PDFs directly from your document with the File Export as PDF feature. However, the resulting PDF lacks interactive features.To create a PDF with bookmarks, metadata, and hyperlinks, you must use the extendedPDF macro in combination with Ghostscript or Distiller. Visit to learn more about extendedPDF.

5 Corel WordPerfect and PDF Tweaker

Newer versions of Corel WordPerfect have a File Publish To PDF feature that gives you options for adding PDF features. Or, you can use the PDF Tweaker macro for WordPerfect, which also adds links and bookmarks to your PDF. In addition to PDF Tweaker, you must also have Acrobat Distiller or Ghostscript. PDF Tweaker does not actually create the PDF; it just adds pdfmarks to the print job.

Visit to learn more about PDF Tweaker.

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