How to convert Word to PDF with hyperlinks

Converting Word to PDF with hyperlinks is not a Rocket Science these days. Sometimes, doing it properly retaining hyperlinks is a bit tricky.

A common and an easy method to convert Microsoft Word doc to PDF with hyperlinks is to use a built-in option available in Microsoft Word as “Save as PDF“. This plugin is available in Ms Office 2010 and later versions.

Other methods can be used with third party PDFs converter. There are many free Word to PDF converters available such as: CutePDF and SodaPDF. We will see the built-in option available in Ms Word 🙂 We will also read about manually creating hyperlinks directly in PDFs. One more method is mentioned below for auto-detecting the URLs in the PDFs.

Convert Word to PDF with built-in “Save as PDF”

If you are using Ms Word 2010 and later versions then first make sure these things:

  • Always try to use Ms Word’s built-in styles for body text, headings and lists etc., as much as you can, by doing so you will have much more control over formatting and accessibility of the text when using built-in styles in Ms Word.
  • Write your links with absolute URLs, such as instead of masking them under names, like Templates. Both are the same URLs but written differently. Write absolute URLs as much as you can in your Word doc.
Ms Word 2010 built-in styles
Ms Word 2010 built-in styles

When you are ready to convert your Word doc to PDF then simply go to the File > Save as > Select a PDF file type from Save as Type and then press Enter to save your Word doc as PDF. Leave other settings default. Or simply press a function key F12 (on PC) to open “Save as” dialog box in Microsoft Word.

Ms Word 2010 Save as PDF
Ms Word 2010 Save as PDF

And you are done, open the newly created PDF, all hyperlinks should be working fine in the PDF.

Clickable links in PDF
Clickable links in PDF

Word to PDF with hyperlinks, how it works?

Microsoft Word’s built-in styles and Save as PDF plugin together do their job perfectly by making an accessible PDF, i.e., a PDF with hyperlinks or clickable links. Majority of third party pdf converters do not take care of accessibility tags when making PDFs, this can be a result of non-working links in PDFs.

Manually creating hyperlinks in PDF

If you don’t have the source document in Word format, you can still create hyperlinks directly in the PDF. We are using Adobe Acrobat here.

Open your PDF in Acrobat. Click at the Tools menu at the top right. Expand the Content Editing tab and select Add or Edit Link. Make a selection over the text you want to convert into hyperlink.

Create hyperlinks manually in the PDF.

A new dialog box will open. Make settings as indicated in the image below. Then click Next.

Manual hyperlinking in PDF.

Then enter the URL in the next dialog box and click OK.

And your text is hyperlinked now. This is a manual method of creating links in the PDFs. This will be a time-taking process as you will have to repeat these steps for each text you need to convert into hyperlinks.

Auto-detecting URLs in PDF and converting them into links

Adobe Acrobat is really a useful software. It can help you in detecting and creating links automatically in your PDF. The process is simple. Read below.

Open your PDF in Acrobat. Click at the Tools menu. Expand the Document Processing tab and then click on Create Links from URLs. Read the warning and proceed by clicking on the Yes button.

Creating links from URLs in Adobe Acrobat.

Select the page range in the next dialog box and click OK.

Auto detecting URLs in Acrobat.

And you are done with this method. Acrobat will detect and convert URLs into links in your PDF. But this method is not always the BEST one to convert the URLs accurately. So make sure everything is inline with your requirements by manually checking the links.

Hope you like this post 🙂 Don’t also forget to share your valuable thoughts in the comments box.

8 thoughts on “How to convert Word to PDF with hyperlinks”

  1. This was helpful, especially the Ms Word portion in the beginning, but very few people have Acrobat. I don’t at the moment either, though I have used it and really love it’s functionality. I used it to make magazine pages for outsourced printing.

    • Thanks, Mitchel! Yes, you’re right Acrobat is a bit expensive so not everybody has access to a full version. There are few free alternatives of Acrobat out there, may be PDFPen Pro can be a useful software. Its for Mac, BTW.

  2. Thanks for the article. We have a slightly different requirement.

    I create an “index” file that holds hyperlinks to folders on the local Windows file system. The index file sits in the “root” folder together with all the folders that hold the various documents. The idea is to create a complete distribution (1 zip file) with index file, folders and documents in the various folders.

    The distribution can then be sent, unpacked and all components accessed via the index file. It’s meant for people with less computer skills.

    The above works well for the creator. The creator can correctly access the folders via the “index” file. However when the distribution is unpacked and the index PDF is opened by a person other than the creator the links don’t work. Hovering over the links in the index file shows the absolute path is stored rather than the relative path that is used say when you link a file into Excel and so the links break as the person will have another folder structure than the creator.

    Do you know of a way to make the hyperlinks relative?

  3. Dear Muhammad,
    In my WORD file, I have hyperlinked picture to another webpage. I have followed your instruction to convert WORDS to PDF. The PDF file is created nicely but the picture that original has the embedded hyperlink appeared as normal pic in PDF which it does not link to any webpage. How can I fix this? TQ.


    • Hi Rachel,

      If you have followed the instructions then hyperlinks should work. However, make sure you create PDF by using “Save as PDF” option in Ms Word. Also, did you set your picture on header?


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