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Linking to named destinations within PDFs


A named destination in a PDF is similar to a bookmark in other document formats. Until recently, we weren’t aware of a method of embedding named destinations within PDFs without the paid-for version of Adobe Acrobat. There are various applications that could export, say, Microsoft Word documents to PDF, but bookmarks weren’t translated to named destinations. When linking to locations within a PDF, we were limited to targeting a page number with a link of this form:


That isn’t as specific as we’d like, and indeed, could become even less accurate if the target content shifts to another page as the document is edited.

A named destination, like a bookmark, can be associated with particular content. A related hyperlink would be of this form:


So how do we create a PDF with named destinations without the additional expenditure on Adobe software?


A Microsoft Word document can be opened in LibreOffice and exported to PDF with bookmarks converted to named destinations. Documents authored in LibreOffice could be used too, of course. Assuming you have a document that has bookmarks in it.

LibreOffice is free and Open Source software, download from:

  1. Open the document in LibreOffice Writer.
  2. In LibreOffice Writer, click File > Export as PDF...
  3. On the ‘General’ tab, select ‘Export bookmarks’.

  4. On the ‘Links’ tab, select ‘Export bookmarks as named destinations’.

  5. Click ‘Export’.

Linking to a bookmark / named destination

The hyperlink address would be of the form:

/Documents/folder path/document name#nameddest=bookmark name

This would generally be the form of a hyperlink address, for example, set in a shape in a map or in the home page menu.


Thanks to Damian Atkins and Daniel Furbach at Menzies for suggesting the use of LibreOffice. A reason for them choosing to use PDFs is that they should open without the prompts for alternative actions characteristic of other document formats.

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