Inserting hyperlinks in PDFs: everything you need to know

Inserting hyperlinks in PDFs: everything you need to know

Depending on the tools you use to create content, you might be accustomed to slick ways to insert hyperlinks in your document.

In Google Docs or Word, for example, just typing a hyperlink and finishing with a space automatically creates a hyperlink. It’s a sticky hyperlink, too – it moves around as you add or remove content above and below it. Easy, right?

It takes a little more work to add a clickable link to a PDF but don’t worry – in this article we’ll explain how you can easily insert hyperlinks in PDF documents.

Adding hyperlinks to a PDF

Before you start adding hyperlinks, you need to understand something about hyperlinks in PDFs. Many document formats (HTML, Word, Google Docs, etc.) associate a hyperlink with a text string.

PDFs work differently: a hyperlink in a PDF has nothing to do with the underlying text. Instead, a hyperlink in a PDF is a pre-defined clickable area on a page. Think of it as an invisible square box. When a user hovers their cursor over this space, their cursor changes, indicating it’s clickable.

This leads to two important lessons about hyperlinking in PDFs:

  • Readers won’t know that there’s a hyperlink unless there’s a visual indicator (think underlining and blue text) or if they happen to move their mouse over the area.
  • Editing the text in your PDF will cause the text you hyperlinked to shift position – but the clickable area won’t shift. Your PDF hyperlink could end up on a blank spot on the page. That means that whenever you move text in your PDF, you need to move the hyperlink area to the right place.

It also means that, in most cases, adding a hyperlink to a PDF involves two stages. Formatting the text to look like a hyperlink, and then adding a hyperlink area. It’s easy with Foxit PhantomPDF.

Let’s look at the first step – changing the text so it’s clearly identifiable as a hyperlink.

  1. Select the text you want to hyperlink
  2. Click the ‘Edit Text’ button that’s near the top-center of the screen.
  3. Change the color of the text to blue
  4. Tap the “underline” button to make the text look like a hyperlink

OK, so you’ve made it clear to your user that they can click on a hyperlink. Now, just add the hyperlink itself.

1. Under Edit, click the Link button


2. Next, draw a square around the text you want to hyperlink, like this:


3. In the Create a Link dialogue box that pops up, select “Open a web link” and click Next.

4. Type in or paste the web address you want to link to and click OK.

That’s it! You’ve inserted a hyperlink in your PDF.

Now, don’t forget to move this hyperlink area if you edit your PDF. In PhantomPDF you just drag, drop and resize the hyperlink area – as simple as that.

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