The key to all this working lies in a feature called Bookmarks.  The Bookmarks feature is activated by clicking the Bookmarks icon on the left of the Acrobat Reader application.

This opens the Bookmarks panel to the left of the open PDF and displays a list of all bookmarked entries.  In the case of a document with a hyperlinked Table of Contents, the Bookmarks feature displays the entries making up the Table of Contents.

Of course, the key to all this working relies on the presence of a hyperlinked Table of Contents in the source document.

Many occupations, such as a lawyer, require the implementation of bookmarks when utilizing eFiling services.

Let’s see how we can use Microsoft Word to create a hyperlinked Table of Contents automatically that will be used as a bookmarks list in the PDF reader.

Styles and the Table of Contents Feature

Below we have a Word document that is hundreds of pages in length.

The Table of Contents was built automatically using the built-in Table of Contents feature located on the References tab.

The requirement for this to work is that you apply Heading Styles to your section or topic titles.

In the below sample, the “Heading 1” style was applied to our section title while the “Heading 2” style was applied to the chapter title.

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Saving the Word Document as a PDF

To save the document as a PDF file with all the hyperlinks preserved, perform the following steps:

  1. Select File (tab) to open the Backstage view of Word.
  2. Click Save As on the left of the screen.
  3. Change the file type to PDF.

Here is the critical step.  Do NOT click the Save button. If the save is executed at this stage, the hyperlinks in the document will not be preserved.

  1. Select the “More options…” link below the filename/filetype fields.
  2. In the newly opened dialog box, click the “Options…”
  1. In the list displayed options, place a check next to the “Create bookmarks using:” option and select “Headings”.

NOTE: If this option is grayed out, it is because your document does not include a Table of Contents.

  1. Click OK and Save to complete the PDF creation process.

Checking Out Our Creation

Open the PDF in Acrobat (or your favorite PDF viewer/reader).

If you do not see the Bookmarks icon, you may need to click the small arrowhead on the left edge of the window.

If you are using a PDF viewer/reader other than Adobe Acrobat, you will have to consult that program’s documentation to discover how to access the Bookmarks feature.

Behold, our amazing bookmarks!

NOTE: If you do not see the bookmarks listed, you may need to activate them in the Acrobat application.  Select View -> Show/Hide -> Navigation Pane -> Bookmarks.

Now you always have your Table of Contents in view regardless of your location within the document.

If you have a multi-level hierarchy in the bookmarks, you can expand all levels or collapse all levels by selecting the Bookmark Options button and select either “Expand Top-Level Bookmarks” or “Collapse Top-Level Bookmarks”.

Using Microsoft Word Bookmarks

If you don’t want bookmarks to be created by way of Heading Styles, you can manually turn anything into a bookmark.  Anything from a word, a sentence, or a paragraph can be turned into a bookmark.

To manually create a bookmark:

  1. Highlight the word, sentence, or paragraph you want to insert the bookmark.
  2. Select Insert (tab) -> Links (group) -> Bookmark.
  1. In the Bookmark dialog box, give the bookmark a name and click Add.

NOTE: Bookmark names cannot contain spaces.  Consider using an underscore character to simulate a space.

Create the PDF as demonstrated earlier, but in this case, select “Word Bookmarks” instead of “Headings”.

When opened, the manually created bookmarks appear in the same manner as the Table of Contents example.

A Final Word to Consider

If you find yourself creating documents with ten or more pages, you should consider adding bookmarks.

It only takes a few extra clicks, and your audience will not only appreciate the easier navigation but will also be impressed by your amazing skills.

Leila Gharani

I'm a 6x Microsoft MVP with over 15 years of experience implementing and professionals on Management Information Systems of different sizes and nature.

My background is Masters in Economics, Economist, Consultant, Oracle HFM Accounting Systems Expert, SAP BW Project Manager. My passion is teaching, experimenting and sharing. I am also addicted to learning and enjoy taking online courses on a variety of topics.