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How to Create Interactive PDFs in InDesign Using Hyperlinks

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Read Time: 9 min

Hyperlinks in InDesign can easily add interactivity to your work. In this tutorial, we'll take a look at how to add a hyperlink in InDesign, as well as how to edit hyperlink content.  Then, within InDesign, remove hyperlink content in a snap too. So let's dig right into how to hyperlink in InDesign and export to an interactive PDF file.

InDesign Hyperlink InDesign Hyperlink InDesign Hyperlink
InDesign Design Template from Envato Elements

What You Will Learn in This Adobe InDesign Tutorial

  • How to add a hyperlink in InDesign
  • How to edit hyperlink content in InDesign
  • How to remove an InDesign hyperlink
  • How to export your work as an interactive PDF file

Tutorial Assets

We'll use the following assets as we walk through working with hyperlinks in InDesign:

However, you'll be able to use these concepts in any Adobe InDesign file of your choice—whether that is an InDesign template or a design file you've created from scratch. Figuring out how to add a hyperlink in InDesign isn't too tough, but a multi-page document will work well for this demonstration.

Before we dig into how to hyperlink in InDesign, let's clarify what this means—and what this content can do for our design work. 

Just like on the Internet, in a web browser, InDesign documents can contain hyperlinks. This is essentially an item—text or another imported item, like an image—that can be linked to an interaction, like going to a destination. This can be really convenient in longer PDF documents. For example, if you were distributing a digital version of a magazine, having hyperlinks on your table of contents would bring added convenience for the viewer. Simply click on the name of an article and jump to it in the document. 

Before we walk through how to add a hyperlink to InDesign, let's take a look at InDesign's hub for all things hyperlinks: the Hyperlink panel. Go to Window > Interactive > Hyperlinks to open it up.

This is a space where you can create, view, edit, and manage the hyperlinks in your document. It's likely empty right now, but we'll change that in a moment!

InDesign Hyperlink PanelInDesign Hyperlink PanelInDesign Hyperlink Panel
Stock Imagery from Envato Elements

Step 1

Let's begin by creating a simple hyperlink. Select the Type Tool, in your Tools panel.

Then, click and drag to select the desired text in your design document. This text will be our hyperlink—we will click on it to take the user to a destination.

We'll be using an InDesign template from Envato Elements in this example, but you could use any InDesign document of your choice. If you are working with a new document, you can also create new text for this purpose.

InDesign Text ToolInDesign Text ToolInDesign Text Tool

Step 2

Then, turn to the Hyperlink panel that we opened earlier. Click on the Plus Sign, at the bottom of the panel, to create a new hyperlink from our selected text.

InDesign Hyperlink PanelInDesign Hyperlink PanelInDesign Hyperlink Panel

Step 3

This opens up the New Hyperlink dialog box. We have a wide variety of options we can choose for our hyperlinks.

We'll begin with Link To, at the very top. This defines the type of hyperlink destination we're going to define. 

There are a host of options when it comes to your hyperlink destinations in InDesign, including:

  • URLs, a destination on the Internet.
  • Pages, a page within your InDesign document.
  • Text Anchors, a specific passage of text designed as a destination point

Less commonly, you can also create a hyperlink to an email address, similar to a direct email link on a website. You can also create a hyperlink to a specific file, with a defined path. This can be convenient if you are distributing your interactive PDF bundled with additional content and/or using it offline. 

For this demonstration, let's select Text Anchor

InDesign Text AnchorInDesign Text AnchorInDesign Text Anchor

Step 4

Next, we need to further define our hyperlink's destination. Your options here will vary depending on the type of hyperlink you choose. 

In this case, InDesign needs to know which document we're linking to (the same document we are in, or a different one), and the Text Anchor itself.

Let's go with the document we're already using as our source. We haven't created a Text Anchor yet, so for now, we will leave that set to [None].

InDesign Text AnchorInDesign Text AnchorInDesign Text Anchor

Step 5

Next, we have our Appearance and Accessibility settings. 

Appearance will dictate how your hyperlink looks. You can use a defined Character Style or create a new one. You can also choose how your hyperlink will look within your interactive PDF. For this demo, we'll go with the default settings, but you could style these options any way that suits your design.

Accessibility will allow you to define alt text for your hyperlinks. This is a strong practice for devices like screen readers, especially if your links happen to be image based.

Click OK once you are happy with your choices.

InDesign Appearance and AccessibilityInDesign Appearance and AccessibilityInDesign Appearance and Accessibility

Step 6

But our hyperlink won't work just yet—we need to make our Text Anchor.

Let's go to another page in our document. Similarly, select some type that you would like to act as your Text Anchor. Think of it as a marker on your page. This is the point where your hyperlink will jump to. Use the Type Tool to select your target text.

Then, go back to the Hyperlink panel. Click on the Hamburger Icon, and select New Hyperlink Destination.

InDesign Hyperlink DestinationInDesign Hyperlink DestinationInDesign Hyperlink Destination

Step 7

Now, we see the Hyperlink Destination dialog box. We can choose the type of destination—we want Text Anchor—and we can also give it a name. It's a good idea to use a naming convention that's easy to understand and remember, especially if your document is quite long.

Once you're happy with your settings, click OK

InDesign Text Anchor settingsInDesign Text Anchor settingsInDesign Text Anchor settings

Now, let's edit the hyperlink we created to make it work with our new Text Anchor.

In the Hyperlink panel, double-click on the Hyperlink in the list. This will open up that Hyperlink dialog box again—but notice, this time, it says Edit Hyperlink.

You get similar options to when we created our hyperlink. Let's go in and change the Text Anchor in our Destination to the one we created earlier. Now, our hyperlink will go to the place we defined.

Click OK, and you've edited your hyperlink.

InDesign Edit HyperlinkInDesign Edit HyperlinkInDesign Edit Hyperlink

But what about removing this content in InDesign? Remove hyperlink content easily from the Hyperlink panel.

Simply select your hyperlink from the list and then click the Trash Can.

Note that this removes the interactivity. This will not necessarily remove any applied Character Styles. You can change that by going to Window > Styles > Character Styles and selecting [None] from the list to revert to your default.

InDesign Delete HyperlinkInDesign Delete HyperlinkInDesign Delete Hyperlink

Step 1

Back in the day, if you wanted to add a hyperlink to InDesign, it was a little more complicated—and this is because InDesign CC got an update in 2021 that both enhanced and simplified how hyperlinks work in InDesign. Cool, right?

There's no need to define whether or not you want to include your hyperlinks when exporting as an Interactive PDF. Simply go to File > Export and choose Interactive PDF as your file type. Likewise, if you opt to publish online, your hyperlinks should be intact.

Isn't it nice when things get easier for us designers?

InDesign Export to Interactive PDFInDesign Export to Interactive PDFInDesign Export to Interactive PDF

Step 2

However, if you opt to Export to Print PDF, you will see options that will allow you to include your hyperlinks in the exported file. You'll find that under General settings, once you export.

You may want to do this if you are opting to create a print-resolution file, but still want your interactivity.

InDesign Export HyperlinksInDesign Export HyperlinksInDesign Export Hyperlinks

Step 1

Remember, there are other hyperlink destination types! So, for example, you could create a hyperlink to a website. The process is very similar.

Select your text, and then click on the Plus Sign from the Hyperlink panel to create your new hyperlink. 

For Link To, select URL. Then, simply type the website information you'd like to use for your hyperlink. Click OK to apply.

InDesign Hyperlink URLInDesign Hyperlink URLInDesign Hyperlink URL

Step 2

We can also do this with specific pages in our InDesign document. This can be a handy way to easily direct your readers to a different page. However, keep in mind that sometimes text anchors can be a bit easier for the design. For example, if you end up adding pages, the page number where an article starts could change. If you had that link going to an anchor, it would be dynamic, instead of being fixed to a specific page.

Let's take a look at our hyperlink info again. In the Link To dropdown, we can choose Page, and then define which page we'd like our hyperlink to jump to. You can also customize the page view from the Destination options.

InDesign Hyperlink to PageInDesign Hyperlink to PageInDesign Hyperlink to Page

Step 3

Remember, you can also create hyperlinks using objects, like an image or shape. Instead of selecting type, use the Selection Tool to select the object you would like to act as a hyperlink. 

Then, turn to your Hyperlink panel again. The process is the same; click the Plus Sign to create your new hyperlink.

InDesign Hyperlink on ImageInDesign Hyperlink on ImageInDesign Hyperlink on Image

Step 4

You can also quickly apply a new hyperlink by selecting your content and then right-clicking on PC or Command-clicking on Mac. From the given options, choose Hyperlinks > New Hyperlink

Same process, quick way to get there! You'll still see your created content within the Hyperlink panel too.

InDesign HyperlinksInDesign HyperlinksInDesign Hyperlinks

Now that you know how to add a hyperlink in InDesign, what will you create? While multipage documents make a lot of sense for this interactivity, there are plenty of other possibilities too! 

InDesign TemplateInDesign TemplateInDesign Template

Learn More about Adobe InDesign Today

Want to learn even more about Adobe InDesign? Check out these free tutorials and take your InDesign skills further today.

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