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Adobe Acrobat Bookmarks

Jul 25, 2008
When we run classes on Adobe Acrobat at our London training centre, one of the first things we cover is the use of bookmarks. Most people agree that PDFs are brilliant but they can sometimes be rather difficult and tedious to navigate. Enter bookmark: they are clickable headings which link to specific parts of the PDF document and allow you to move around a lot more quickly than scrolling or moving one page at a time.

When you distribute PDFs that contain important information about your products or services, you want to make sure that your audience can get to key facts as quickly as possible. Adding bookmarks to your PDF files can make them more useful and attractive to potential clients.

The bookmarks panel is one of Acrobat's navigation panels normally displayed on the left of the Acrobat Reader screen. To make bookmarks visible, click on the bookmark icon or choose View - Navigation Panels - Bookmarks. Clicking on a bookmark will move you to the page that it links to.

Acrobat Reader cannot be used to create PDFs: you will need either Acrobat Standard or Acrobat Professional, the commercial versions of Acrobat. But then you will also need one of these two bits of software to create your PDF anyway.

Once you have created the PDF, open it with Acrobat Standard or Professional and open the Bookmarks panel. Next, navigate to the first page that you want your audience to be able to find easily, choose New Bookmark from the Options menu in the top right of the Bookmarks panel and enter a name for the bookmark. Repeat this procedure to create as many bookmarks as you think useful.

If this all sounds like hard work, let's look at a few ways of speeding things up. Firstly, as an alternative to typing a name for a bookmark, you can use the selection tool (located next to the hand tool on the toolbar) to select some text on the page then, when you choose New Bookmark, the selected text will be used as the bookmark name. Also, you can use the keyboard shortcut for New Bookmark which is Control-B.

It is also possible to generate bookmarks automatically. For example, PDFMaker, a utility for Microsoft Office 97, 2002 and 2003 which is automatically installed along with Acrobat Standard or Professional producing an extra menu in Office programs called "Adobe PDF" and an "Adobe PDFMaker" toolbar.

When you create a PDF using the PDFMaker utility, any text formatted with Word's heading styles ("Heading 1", "Heading 2", etc.) will automatically be converted to PDF bookmarks as will entries in indexes and tables of content. Similarly, if you PDF an Excel workbook using PDFMaker, bookmarks to each worksheet will automatically be created. In PowerPoint, bookmarks to each slide in your presentation will be generated for you.

There are also DTP packages which will automatically generate PDF bookmarks in the same way as Microsoft Word (from styles, indexes and tables of content). Naturally InDesign will do this but also QuarkXPress and Serif PagePlus. These three software packages have the additional benefit that you don't actually need to own Acrobat Standard or Professional. The facility to create PDFs is built-in to each of these packages.

It is also worth mentioning that bookmarks can do more than just link to a particular page within the PDF document. Firstly, by default, they actually link to a view rather than a page. Thus, for example, if a page in your document contains a map, you can zoom in on the map till it fills the screen and then create a bookmark. When your users click this bookmark, they will be taken to the exact zoom level that was current when the bookmark was created.
About the Author
Author is a developer and trainer with TrainingCompany.Com, an independent computer training company offering Adobe Acrobat Classes at their central London training centre.
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