Plugged In: 3 easy ways to add value to PDF documents

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plugged-in-marquezWith a rise in the number of mobile-friendly offices, voluminous PDF files have quickly become the norm in today’s society. PDFs have retained popularity with their innate ability to easily share across operating systems, protect content and ensure formatting remains intact across platforms. Although PDFs have many benefits, finding what you are looking for within a lengthy PDF can often feel like a search for “Waldo.” Here are 3 easy ways to overcome this hamster wheel and make your PDF more efficient.


Searching for specific content in a PDF can often be faster than flipping through stacks of paper, but it can feel like Groundhog Day as you look for the same things over and again. While some keep a paper copy of commonly used files marked with binder tabs, sticky flags or even dog-eared pages to help quickly identify important pages without having to click through hundreds of search result hits, the same can be done electronically with bookmarks.

Whether you are working with lengthy policies, closing documents or extensive medical records, bookmarks make document navigation a breeze. Bookmarks are visible from the navigation pane located on the left side of the screen and are denoted with a blue ribbon icon. Simply click the bookmark to instantly be redirected to that portion of the document. Bookmarks are functional in each of the Adobe Acrobat products, however they cannot be created in Reader.

Bookmarks can be created manually within Acrobat or automatically during the creation of a PDF file. For example, headings in a Word document can easily transition to a PDF bookmark for each heading marked using a style. To ensure this setting is turned on, begin the process of saving the document as a PDF but select “Options” prior to finalizing the process and check the box next to “Create Bookmarks.”

Additionally, combining multiple documents into a single PDF can also automatically create bookmarks. Imagine a multitude of individual electronic receipts collected throughout a month, each named with the date and vendor name. With a right click and selection to combine into a single PDF, bookmarks are auto-generated using the name of each of the individual files. This allows users to quickly jump to a specific receipt. To double check this setting, simply click the “Option” button after selecting “Combine Files” and confirm “Always Add Bookmarks” is selected.

Finally, bookmarks can be created manually utilizing most tools aside from Adobe Reader. With the PDF open to the desired page, click the “Add Bookmark” icon from the navigation pane or press Ctrl+B on the keyboard. Enter the desired name for the bookmark and drag to reposition as desired.

Add links

While bookmarks allow for quick redirection from the side pane, links allow the same by clicking directly on the document itself. This allows for navigation directly from a table of contents, a cross-reference back to a previously defined term, or even links to referenced exhibits. Links can be directed to another part of the current document, to open completely different files, to play a media file, to open a website, and much more.

From the Tools, Edit Document area select the “Add or Edit a Link” option and draw a rectangle to place the link. A pop-up box will appear; the top half allows for formatting changes including an invisible border to keep the appearance of the document unchanged and the bottom portion sets the action. After selecting the desired action, click “Next” and follow prompts to navigate to the desired location, then click “Set Link.” Right click and choose the Select tool to click the link and be redirected.

Electronic sticky notes

Colorful Post-It Notes have long been a key tool for marking follow-up items, adding reminders of key facts and generally organizing issues within paper files. However, paper files are not always easily accessible for others to review and sticky notes do not always remain in place. As a result, multiple people often unknowingly repeat the same task. By applying electronic sticky notes, the concept is the same but the knowledge sharing is far more effective.

Whether you are collaborating on the terms of an agreement or on a fact-finding mission in document review, electronic sticky notes allow comments to be added without changing the integrity of the document itself. Others can reply to comments, view a list of comments, and even search comments from the bottom of the comment pane.

Comments can be added by clicking the comment bubble icon or pressing Ctrl+6. The username and date/timestamp are automatically inserted and additional text can be typed into the box. Simply drag comments to reposition or right click and choose “Properties” to quickly change the color or icon style for organizational benefits.

Applying these common paper-based concepts to the electronic file will keep you organized with the necessary information always at your fingertips.•

Deanna Marquez ([email protected]) is a co-owner of the Indianapolis-based legal technology company, Modern Information Solutions LLC. Areas of service include traditional IT services, software training, and litigation support including trial presentation services. The opinions expressed are those of the author.

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