Beware of PDF gremlins chopping up your hyperlinks (#edtech #uoltech)

Beware of PDF gremlins chopping up your hyperlinks (#edtech #uoltech)

It’s no secret that, although it is not actually true that tech falls on its face when you need it most, when it does, it certainly feels like it. It’s just happened to me while working with Adobe Acrobat Pro.

What was I doing?

Not a lot: I wanted to create a PDF from an MS Word document which had some links in it.

Well, a bit more than that to be perfectly honest:

  • I also wanted that PDF to have several bookmarks to several points of interest in my document
  • I wanted the PDF to show automatically the Bookmarks menu when opened
  • I wanted to include metadata for the PDF: the author, copyright info, etc.

Where did I go wrong?

Well, in looking for all these fancy things, I kind of forced myself into having to use Adobe Acrobat Pro (adding and modifying Bookmarks is super easy, although make sure you also position the bookmarked bit where you would like it to be displayed – e.g at the top, middle, bottom of the page, rather than just place the cursor in front of the text and add a bookmark. Moreover, a quick File/Properties in the PDF gave me access to all the other functionalities I was looking for).

I also thought that, if I were to use some features of Acrobat Pro, I may as well use the same application to create the PDF rather than take the easy way out and use the Word functionality to Save As .pdf. This is where things went downhill.

In one case, in my original MS Word file, the link Text to display was not the same as the link Address (right-click on the link and choose Edit Hyperlink… to access this information). Why? Because the address was rather long…

My Acrobat Pro dealt me two serious blows:

  1. It disregarded the information in the Address area and just copied the info in Text to display across
  2. It converted my dashes in the link to funky codes, thus guaranteeing there was no chance anyone could get to where I would have liked them to be.
  1. My original link Text to display was:
  2. The link Address was
  3. What Acrobat produced was:

The fix

Well, apart from recreating the PDFs with the full links, there’s not much to do… the nice folks on the WordPress forum did try to help, but there may not be a lot they could do… Temporarily, I am following their kind advice and have added an additional text box signalling the fact that visitors to my blog may get to a Page-not-found message; I am also telling them where the info they are looking for actually is.

What I will do differently next time

I am still keen on producing bookmarked PDFs (in my experience, having menus on the side does help). I also like this menu of bookmarks to appear automatically for my viewers’ convenience. I also like to be able to add bookmarks in the menu to areas which are not necessarily new headings, but rather important paragraphs. Acrobat Pro allows you to do all of the above with ease.

On the other hand, the integrity of my links is very important to me, too. So I will keep saving as PDF from within MS Word/Open Office to start with. Then I will use Acrobat Pro to add all the other bells and whistles.

Finally, I will try and remember to check every single link rather than a representative sample…

Hope this helps you, too, and saves you a bit of growling and shouting (don’t worry, I did plenty of those for you, too). 😉