Using Links in Acrobat

Adjusting the properties of your links is a great way to give your PDFs a style of their own. Some can be just for looks and some can help improve the usability of your PDFs. Link properties include settings such as type, highlight, color, style and magnification.

If you’re new to links and you’re keen to try them out, there’s one tip you must not forget before you begin. The Link Tool retains the properties from the previous link you make, so if you want the properties to be the same on all the links you’re about to add, make sure you set them right on the first link you create. There’s nothing worse than having to go back and manually update each and every one of them by hand!

Links can be used to perform many actions. The most simple and commonly used links are ones that link the user to another part of the PDF being viewed or to a Web site. The more advanced kinds of links you can set can include opening other files, executing menu items and JavaScript, as well as performing various actions on forms.


There are two types of links, Visible and Invisible. Visible ones can be seen by the border around the link area, which can be different in its width (Thin, Medium and Thick), its border color (any RGB color you choose) and its border style (Solid or a Dashed lines). Invisible links only ‘appear’ when the mouse cursor hovers over them and the pointer changes to show that there is a link there.


The highlight option lets you select how you would like the link to act when it is clicked. There are four options to choose from.

  • None – The cursor changes to a link symbol, however the appearance of the link area doesn’t change when clicked. (See image above for example.)

  • Invert – Changes the appearance of the link area by inverting the colors. For example everything white becomes black and vice versa.

  • Outline – Inverts the border around the link area. This one works especially well when you’re using the Visible Rectangle type link.

  • Inset – Appears to indent the area of the page when you click on the link area.

Magnification settings

The magnification settings you use can determine how useable your links are. It’s important to think about the types of users who will be viewing your PDFs and how familiar they are with using Acrobat. Are they going to be on a variety of devices with different screen sizes? Are they all experienced or all inexperienced? Here are some thoughts on how different magnification settings can be best employed.

  • Fixed – Displays the same magnification level and page position as used during the creation of the link. This type of link can work well when you can be certain that the user is not going to want to zoom in and out of your content.

  • Fit View – Displays the visible part of the page at the zoom level as used during creating the link.

  • Fit in Window – Displays the whole page being linked to in the window. This can be good when displaying small pages that you know will always fit within the window and that are easily readable. It can also be useful when displaying very large pages that will require the user to use the Zoom tool to explore the page.

  • Fit Width – Displays the width of the page being linked to. This can be good when the user is viewing pages setup to display in portrait mode. User guides and office documents formatted for printing as letter and A4 size are good examples — these kinds of documents cannot be easily read if a magnification setting like Fit in Window is used.

  • Fit Height – If the page being linked to is a portrait style then this will work similarly to the Fit in Window magnifications.

  • Fit Visible – Displays the visible part of the page and tries to exclude the margins when there is no content when it is blank space. It is similar to the Fit Width except more of the margin is excluded from what is displayed, which also means that text will appear a little larger.

  • Inherit Zoom – Displays the page linked to with the Zoom settings the user is currently using. This is the most versatile magnification setting and it gives the user the most control over the viewing experience.
    If you have a lot of users, of varying experience and on a variety of screen sizes, this is a good, flexible option.

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About the Author: Richard Crocker

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