Bookmarks and Text Anchors

When the InDesign programmers revamped the interactivity features in CS4 to include cross-references, they made a subtle change that requires every bookmark to have a text anchor attribute. This change has caused some confusion in at least two areas — linking buttons to pages, and automatically generating bookmarks for a PDF document. Here are the problems and workarounds in both instances.

Linking buttons to pages

In InDesign CS3 and earlier, you can set a button action to jump to a specific page, such as page 4. You can no longer do this in InDesign CS4, at least not for PDF documents. Instead, you can jump to text anchors. But what if you don’t have any text anchors on that page?

Here’s the workaround. Create an empty text frame on the page you want to jump to, and add a text anchor. To do this, place the insertion point in the text frame and choose New Hyperlink Destination from the Hyperlinks panel menu. Then name your text anchor. When you’re creating the bookmark, use the Go To Anchor action.

If the text anchor should be associated with a particular image, group the empty text frame containing the text anchor with the image.

Generating bookmarks automatically for a PDF

When you export a document to PDF, the PDF can display bookmarks in the Bookmarks tab on the left side. Rather than creating individual bookmarks for each heading, you can generate a table of contents, and the bookmarks are automatically derived from the TOC. But you may not want the actual TOC to appear in the document. Sometimes you just want the bookmarks.


In InDesign CS3, you can simply place the table of contents on the pasteboard or on a hidden layer, and the bookmarks still show up in the PDF. That trick no longer works in InDesign CS4.Here’s the workaround, which Sandee Cohen pointed out on the Adobe InDesign user forum. Add a page to the end of your document, and then generate the table of contents on that page. You may want to use small type to make sure the TOC fits on that page. Then, when you export to PDF, specify a page range that includes all but the last page. Or, if you export the entire document to PDF, you can just delete the last page in Acrobat (choose Document > Delete Pages).

UPDATE: Claudia McCue pointed out another workaround, which is to place the TOC text frame in the pasteboard and make the edge of the frame slightly overlap the page — much easier than deleting the PDF. Thanks, Claudia.

14 Responses to Bookmarks and Text Anchors

  1. Heidi von Markham says:

    As a new ID user moving from FrameMaker, I was banging my head against a wall trying to get PDF bookmarks without a visible ToC. I used Claudia’s workaround and it performed beautifully — Thank you so much!

  2. Cecilia forrest says:

    I have created a 160 page document in InDesign CS4. The contents page needs bookmarks in order for the chapters/reference sections etc to be accessed quickly, I’ve successfully applied bookmarks into my CS4 indesign document and they work perfectly when converted into a pdf file.My Problem? How will this work in my reflowed accessible pdf file (for visually impaired people) when I’ve listened to this myself, the chapter page is simply read out without any reference to the bookmark applied: how does the reader jump to their preferred chapter quickly?I’m probably missing something very simple (…and as I’m new to this type of conversion, that’s not surprising I guess)Please help…I’m beginning to lose the will!!

  3. Betty says:

    How can I delete existing text anchors in a document? I want to use different anchors and there’s way too many of them.

  4. You can create text anchors using either the Bookmarks panel or the Hyperlinks panel (using New Hyperlink Destination). Deleting the text anchors in the Bookmarks panel is easy. Just select all the bookmarks you want to delete and click the Trash icon.Removing the text anchors from the Hyperlinks panel doesn’t offer as much flexibility. Choose Hyperlink Destination Options from the panel fly-out menu, and then click Delete All. That wipes out all your hyperlink text anchors, and you can’t undo it.

  5. Dan Owen says:

    why does it seem that adobe’s newest versions remove features rather than add. photoshop’s contact sheet, extract, image ready. InDesign’s interactive features.I don’t want anymore improved versions

  6. Roger Nooner says:

    can bookmarks in InDesign export to swf?

  7. Bob Bringhurst says:

    No. Bookmarks work only in exported PDFs.

  8. Pissed Off says:

    I transitioned from CS3 to CS4 and my Go to pages in my 100 page pdf are whacked. Fantastic.

  9. Sheri Seawright says:

    If you are working in a book with multiple chapters that has 3 or 4 different documents per chapter and includes 3-4 different master pages, what’s the best way to go about creating a TOC for the entire book? I have run into a problem using the same paragraph style names throughout the book’s different documents, so I’m trying to go in and name specific paragraph styles according to the document they are from. If you have any ideas to help me simplify this, I’d appreciate it because I’m just about to go bald trying to figure this out.

  10. Tom D says:

    When exporting a book to PDF, the PDF bookmarks are not listed in the same order as all of the documents?? This makse the bookmarks useless because they are not where they are supposed to be.
    How can this be fixed?

  11. uzi says:

    Is there any way to go back to the button that go to the anchor text?

  12. Patrick says:

    Any way to make the bookmarks in the PDF (generated via the TOC) inherit zoom in Acrobat?

  13. Danny says:

    Is there anyway to enable tracking on anchors and bookmarks within a PDF?