I want to create a pdf document with a table of contents and links to the referenced documents. How do I do this?

How do I create a pdf document to share with people who only have Adobe Reader?

Janet Frankel

5 Answers

Voted Best Answer

thanks - very helpful. I had a feeling that a portfolio was the way to go but I was under a deadline so I'm just finishing up creating a giant pdf file with links.

By Janet Frankel   

Hi Janet,

To create a PDF you need a software application that converts files to the PDF format- one such applciation is of course Acrobat- either Standard or Professional. Adobe Reader is called Reader because it only allows you to view ( or in many cases, read) PDF files. Adobe provides the Reader free to help promote the use of PDF as a file format for sharing electronic documents- if you buy Acrobat to create PDFs you are pretty sure that everyone will be able to read/view them because Reader is so widely used ( because it's free).

PDF files are typically a "finished" document that was originnaly created in another software application, such as Word, Excel, InDesign, etc. Again, an advantage to this is that almost everyone has the free Adobe Reader, but you are not as sure everyone will have Word, InDesign, etc installed on their computers ( none of these programs are free).

So to do what you want it is best to begin by creating your document in another software program. From what you describe Microsoft Word sounds like a good fit. After you complete the content in Word you can add links and a Table of Contents. Then with Acrobat (either Professional or Standard) you convert the Word file to a PDF and there are ways to set it up so that the links and table of Contents get converted at the same time.

Hope this helps,

WindJack Solutions

Dimitri Munkirs   

Tossing my hat in the ring here...

Step 1:
Ensure compatibility of the OS, the Office Suite, and version of Acrobat.
Review this Adobe KB article. It is an essential reference so it is good to have it in your browser's favorites/bookmarks.


With a harmonious alignment continue to the next step.

Step 2:
Consider what your "deliverable" will be.
With Acrobat Pro (9 or 10) you can provide a Portfoliio.
Alternatively, you could provide a PDF "TOC"/"Index"/"Menu" containing the text description of the referenced topic with each being linked to the target file (Word, PDF, other other file format supported by Acrobat).

[ KB Article for Supported file formats: http://kb2.adobe.com/cps/405/kb405848.html ]

You may find that a Portfolio provides a better vehicle for "grab 'n hold" the users' attention.

Video tutorials available at Adobe TV: http://tv.adobe.com/search/?q=acrobat+portfolios
Video tutorials available at the AUC Learning Center: http://acrobatusers.com/tutorials/filter/search&category=14&channel=tut

Step 3:
Consider if you want to include judiciously selected Rich Media annotations (example - a brief audio recording).
If so, where?

Step 4:
You've 102 "reference" files. Where needed, output a PDF, V&V that each PDF presents content as desired.
If not, fix any issues in the authoring file(s) and output a PDF.

Step 5:
IF using Portfolio(s) —
Have a PDF for each of the 102 files in-hand. Anything other than PDF cannot be viewed with Adobe Reader.
Any non-PDF file requires the parent application or a "viewer" (if one exists).
Perform some trials to see what the presentation to users choices you like.
Create Portfolio(s).
n.b., If you want to link files you'll have to do it from within the Portfolio (use the Link tool's "go to page view" feature). With that said, a well thought out Portfolio may not really need such links.

Deliverable is the single Portfolio PDF file.

IF using a "Menu" that identifies and links to each of the 102 separate files —

--| Keep the "Menu" file and the 102 reference files in a common "parent" folder. You may want to make sub-folders for appropriate reference topics.
These sub-folders would contain the relevant reference files (PDFs).
This is important.
For the links on the Menu file to work (once the assembly of files is delivered) the relative path, as denoted in the set link path syntax must not differ from what was originally created.

--| Use MS Word to master the Menu. Only use the application's built-in Headings.
Make use of built-in Headings / Styles space above/below for white space control.
Do not use the "Enter" key.

--| Use Word's Create Hyperlink to make a link to the target file. The target file will be a PDF you made.
If you link to a target *.doc / *.docx but provide the user a *.pdf you have broken the link.
Also, if the premise is users' are using Adobe Reader; well, Reader only *does* PDF.
For any other file format the user must have the parent application of "viewer"
(if one exists).

--| The deliverable is the parent folder with it's compilation of PDFs
(including any sub-folders).

So, some stuff to consider, eh?

Just my thoughts here; but, I'd go with a Portfolio (via Acrobat Pro X).
If I brought in any Rich Media annotations they'd be "internal" to the Portfolio and not rely on an external audio/video player that the student might not have.
I'd obtain Adobe's OK to "distribute" Adobe Reader (renewed annually) or, if the school (or you) have a web site provide a link for download/install of Adobe Reader X.
This facilitates using a common Adobe Reader.

Something worth look over.
Educators can obtain a pretty good discount on Adobe applications/Suites.

The Acrobat X Suite [ http://www.adobe.com/products/acrobatsuite.html ] lends itself very nicely to education "deliverables".

Acrobat X Pro (fully updated) provides a PDFMaker that integrates with Office 2010 applications for output of well-formed PDFs.
(n.b., The MS Save As > PDF is also quite a good "PDF" generator — after all PDF is an ISO Standard <g>)

Photoshop lets you 'do' those images that catch one's attention.

Captivate lets you develop those "compelling" videos.

Presenter takes those perennial favorites, the PowerPoint presentation, to the next level.

(As well, both Captivate and Presenter support creating/deploying "eQuiz" content.)

If forms are of interest there's LC Designer.

If you have existing media you want to re-purpose you have Media Encoder CS5.
Here's a video by Dave Merchant (UVSAR) that includes using Media Encoder:

Last but not least - Should you need to develop Accessible PDFs with consideration to WCAG 2.0 Success Criteria that is quite doable. Currently, one must become comfortable with Section 14 of the PDF Standard (ISO 32000-1:2008). However, the ISO 14289-1 is expected this year. It establishes an ISO Standard for PDF/UA (Universal Accessiblity).
ISO 14289-1 compliant PDFs will resolve concerns vis-a-vis WCAG 2.0 when it comes to PDF.

Be well...

David Austin   

not my answer but... my continuance of the question..

Please finish...
"here are ways to set it up so that the links and table of Contents get converted at the same time."

what are the ways?????


Patrick O"Donnell   

Rather than "hijack" the OP's question thread initiate your own.
The text is "... and there are ways ..." (there rather than here).
Be well...

David Austin   

Please specify a reason: