Exporting Web Pages And Interactive PDF Documents From Adobe InDesign

Adobe InDesign CS4 does not only create documents for print; it also allows you to create interactive PDF files. You can use the Hyperlinks panel to create links within text and when you export the document as a PDF, these links will automatically be converted into PDF links.

A link in a PDF document is basically a rectangular hotspots which may be placed around text or any other element on the page. Thus, if you select some text and convert it into a link by choosing New Hyperlink from the Hyperlink panel menu, after specifying the destination that the link will lead to, you are asked to specify the appearance of the link.

By default, each PDF link is indicated as a visible rectangle. If you decide to stay with this option, you can choose the width of the border: Thin, Medium or Thick. You can also specify a line style from the Style pop-up menu: Solid or Dashed. You can even choose the border colour. If you prefer to make the link more subtle, you can choose Invisible rectangle. Since there will then be no visual clue that the text is a link, it is also useful to create a character style with a blue underline and manually apply it to any text you plan to make into a link.

Another little quirk of PDF links is that when they are highlighted, i.e., clicked, they can optionally change appearance. Simply choose an option from the Highlight pop-up menu in the Appearance section of the New Hyperlink dialog: None, Invert, Outline or Inset.

As well as converting links created manually to their PDF equivalents, InDesign will also convert some elements into links automatically. For example, if you create a table of contents or index, you are given the option of having each item within these two structures automatically converted into a PDF link. To get this feature to work, having chosen File – Export and specified Adobe PDF as the file format, ensure that the Interactive Elements checkbox is activated in the General section of the Export Adobe PDF dialog box.

Another hyperlink-friendly export option is to generate HTML pages. To do this, choose File – Export for Dreamweaver. This time, all InDesign hyperlinks will be automatically converted in HTML hyperlinks and the web pages generated can be edited with any text or HTML editor.

The author is a trainer and developer with an independent computer training company offering Adobe InDesign Classes as well as Photoshop training at their central London training centre.