Adding bookmarks to PDFs

Perhaps you've seen a list of headings at the left side of a PDF you've opened. Maybe not, since the feature is optional, and usually the bookmarks occur while converting a professionally written document into PDF format. In that case, the bookmarks are automatically made, because the various headings have background information that the PDF building uses. You can also add bookmarks to a PDF, if you have Adobe Acrobat or similar software.

When bookmarks are available but not displayed, you'll see something like these icons to the left of your page of text. In order, the icons allow you to open...

  • A displayed set of icons that represent the pages of the PDF
  • A displayed list of the headings or other bookmarks found in the PDF
  • A list of signatures of reviewers who have approved the PDF

When you place the pointer on the bookmark icon, it looks like this:

Then after you select the icon, the left side of your PDF file looks like this:

(Careful! Your display may not look exactly like this, since I am working from Adobe Acrobat.)

The great thing is that you can use Adobe Acrobat to add bookmarks to a PDF file. All you have to do is display a desired page, add the bookmark and add a name. Then, if you want, you can place the bookmark as division within another bookmark or color its text to help readers understand the bookmarks. 

Here's a PDF of the 7th Kirchenbuch from the St. Dionysius parish in Igel, Germany.

Since the original microfilm included images from several small Kirchenbücher together, the top-level bookmarks link to each Kirchenbuch. The second-level bookmarks link to divisions for baptisms (green text), marriages (blue text), and burials (black). The open page here shows—on the left page—the notations about the document that were typed and inserted while the Bistums-Archiv or the LDS was microfilming the book and—on the right—a page of baptisms for the year 1787, with the title "Nomina Baptizatorum" and the baptism record for Peter Becker on 26th January 1787, all in Latin.

This set of Kirchenbücher is pretty well ordered, one book for each year. Other Kirchenbücher aren't so careful. —It's a matter for another post, but there is a reason.— One I have worked with have entries for different years appearing on the same page, and all the entries for one year occur on many pages. The bookmarks can be moved up and down to bring them in chronological order, though they still link to strangely separated pages.

© Thomas G. Kohn, 2013.

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