Creating PDF Cross-Reference Links
This tutorial shows how to automatically hyperlink pairs of text strings (cross-reference links) within the PDF document using AutoBookmark™ plug-in for the Adobe® Acrobat®.
The AutoBookmark™ plug-in provides two methods for creating the cross-reference links:
  • The "Create Cross-Reference Links" method builds links based on the list of text reference pairs.
  • The "Create Chain Links" method provides a flexible way to generate references between multiple search terms by building "chain" links.
Both methods are similar in functionality, but designed for the different kinds of linking.
The "Create Cross-Reference Links" method makes easy to create links between pairs of text strings. Use it to create links from "See Figure 1" to "Figure 1" or to link "Question 1" to "Solution 1", "Question 2" to "Solution 2" and etc.
The "Create Chain Links" method provides more flexibility in generating links between text keywords including creating links that jump from one occurence of the same text string to another. This operation creates link "loops" for one or more search terms. It is useful for linking multiple occurences of the search text into a single link "loop".
These operations are also available in the Action Wizard (the Acrobat's batch processing tool) and can be used for automating of document processing workflows.
You need a copy of the Adobe® Acrobat® along with the AutoBookmark™ plug-in installed on your computer in order to use this tutorial. You can download trial versions of both the Adobe® Acrobat® and the AutoBookmark™ plug-in.
Step 1 - Open A PDF Document
Start the Adobe® Acrobat® application and using "File > Open..." menu open a PDF document that need to be processed.
Step 2 - Open The "Create Cross-Reference Links" Dialog
Select "Plug-Ins > Links > Generate Links > Create Cross-Reference Links..." to open the "Create Cross-Reference Links" dialog.
Step 3 - Specify Text For Cross-Referencing
Enter text into cross-reference list by typing each cross-reference pair on the separate text line. Use "=>" to separate "source" and "destination" text.
Method 1: Cross-Reference Linking
The "Create Cross-Reference Links" operation generates links based on the list of cross-reference text pairs. Here is an example of the cross-reference definitions that link "Problems" to corresponding "Solutions":
Method 2: Chain Linking
Use the "Create Chain Links" method for automatically linking multiple occurrences of the same (or different) text in a single PDF document into a hyperlink "chain". The first occurrence of the search term points to a second one, the second one to a third one, and etc. Optionally the last occurrence of the search term is pointing back to the first occurrence of the term. Each link "chain" is a closed "loop" of hyperlinks that allows jumping from one occurrence of the text to another.
The software provides a number of options that allows producing different configurations of hyperlink "chains". It is possible to create either separate hyperlink chains for each search term or create a single chain that includes multiple search terms.
The below example illustrates two separate link chains – one for "Problem" and one for "Solution" keyword. The arrows illustrate the directions of the hyperlinks. Link chains are not limited to a single page and can span the whole document.
The following example illustrates a single hyperlink chain for multiple search terms. It is linking text "Problem 1" -> "Solution 1" -> "Problem 2" -> "Solution 2" and so on. Link chains are not limited to a single page and can span the whole document.
Step 4 - Specify Processing Options
Check the "Match text case" option if you want linking terms to match document's text case.
Check the "Match whole words only" to add links only to text that matches linking terms on the "word" boundary.
Check the "Create processing report" option to create a report in HTML format that lists all occurences of the linked terms with corresponding page numbers.
Step 5 - Specify Link Appearance
Press the "Edit Appearance..." button to specify desired visual appearance of the resulting links.
Select a link type: visible or invisible rectangle. Select "Invisible Rectangle" if you don’t want users to see the link in the PDF. An invisible link is useful if the link is over an image. Note that the "Line Thickness", "Line Style" and "Color" options are not available if "Invisible Rectangle" is selected.
Select a highlight style: none, invert, outline or inset.
None: doesn’t change the appearance of the link.
Invert: changes the link’s color to its opposite.
Outline: changes the link’s outline color to its opposite.
Inset: creates the appearance of an embossed rectangle.
Select a line thickness: thin, medium or thick.
Select a line style: solid, dashed or underline.
Select a color for the link using the "Color" menu. The color is used only for drawing the link outline. Click "OK" to close the dialog.
Step 6 - Save Settings (Optional)
 Optionally press the "Save Settings..." button to save current settings and the cross-reference list into a settings file for later reuse. The settings can be re-used or shared with co-workers. Settings file has *.crossref file extension. Press the "Load Settings..." button to load settings from a previously saved settings file. The current settings will be overwritten by the loaded settings.
Step 7 - Create Links
Click "OK" to create links between pairs of text strings.
The cross-reference links have been created in the PDF document. The dialog will show the total number of links created. Click "OK" to close the dialog. Inspect the results.
If the "Create processing report" option was checked than the dialog will show the total number of links created and prompt to open a processing report.
Below is an example of a processing report in HTML format that lists all occurences of the linked terms with the corresponding page numbers:
You can find a list of other step-by-step tutorials here: