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How to get bookmarked PDF from Word document

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Course: How to get a bookmarked PDF from MS Word document
Book (Text): How to get bookmarked PDF from Word document
Printed by: Guest user
Date: Saturday, 23 February 2019, 4:19 PM

1. Summary

Bookmarks are used for navigation within the PDF file - they should be based on the chapter titles and subtitles of your document. 

Note, bookmarks are not identical to a linked Table of Contents (TOC), although the function is the same. While Table of Contents is located on a certain page within the document meaning you always have to get back there to use it, the bookmarks will provide a static side panel or top menu (depending on your PDF viewer) with the same content as the TOC so you can use it for navigation without scrolling all around. 

To generate bookmarks the titles, subtitles should be properly formatted (with Heading styles) within the Word document.  

Generating bookmarks is something you have to set up manually when you are converting the Word file into PDF. Alternate, more complicate option with functional disadvantages is to add the bookmarks to the PDF itself. 

Without bookmarks uploading the PDF to the CEU ETD database is not possible!

The proper process is:

  1. Use Heading styles in the Word document to format chapter titles and subtitles.
  2. Specify PDF conversion settings regarding bookmarks.
  3. Convert the file into a bookmarked PDF.

The GIF files are here for a quick overview: 1.) Word to PDF conversion steps; 2.) Checking the bookmarks in PDF.
Note, the GIFS show the process on a PC. On Mac it's different. In further chapters of this tutorial you find the step by step instructions with printscreens about PDF conversion and  applying Heading styles in the Word document both for PC and Mac.


2. Convert to a Bookmarked PDF

The background

Only after the titles in your Word document are properly formatted with Heading styles it's just a few clicks to get a bookmarked PDF. 
If you have not formatted titles using the Heading styles you need to do that first. Navigate to Section 3 for instructions on applying Heading styles. 

MS Word versions for Windows starting from 2007 have a built-in function to generate a bookmarked PDF. Although Word for MAC has the PDF conversion possibility, only the most recent versions have the bookmarking feature. Best practice for MAC users having no bookmarking feature is to get the document converted on a Windows PC. 

There is a possibility to add bookmarks to a ready PDF but it has considerable functional disadvantages. Such editing of PDF documents could be made for example with Adobe Pro (Adobe Acrobat 9) or by using online solutions. Because of the functional disadvantages we do not recommend these solutions. 

What to do

  1. Open your Word document
  2. Navigate to File tab, select Save As (select save location)
  3. Select Save as type: PDF
    Default save option is probably Word Document (.docx) format. Select instead PDF from the drop down menu. Do not save yet.

  4. Set up the bookmarking option
    A.) In Word for PC:
    As soon as you select PDF a new Options button appears. Click it.
    In some versions of Word instead of the Options button you will find a More options link. Click it.

    B.) MAC users who have a bookmarking feature should find and select Best for electronic distribution and accessibility. Notice, it uses online services! If done skip to point 8
    and open the PDF file.
    If you do not see the above mentioned option your Word version does not have the bookmarking feature. Please convert your document on a PC (e.g. CEU computer).

  5. Add bookmarking settings
    Select these options: Create bookmarks using: Headings. Click OK.

  6. To open the converted PDF automatically have the Open file after publishing option checked (below the Options button).

  7. Save the file
    It will take a few seconds till the PDF file is generated and opened.

  8. Check the bookmarks in the new PDF file.
    Click the bookmarks icon to open the side pane.

    Click each bookmark (1.) to check if it navigates you to the right place. Note the foldable structure (2.) of titles.
    Note, documents written on MAC might have bookmarking errors (linking to the wrong place, etc.). If this happens, turn to Computer and Statistics Center's Coordinator or Course Instructor for assistance.

3. Format titles with Heading styles

The background

In Word styles are the one-click solution to apply coherent formatting to selected parts of the text. Styles are a pre-set combination of font type, size, color, line spacing, etc. There are some default styles offered in Word but you can create your own ones too.
Certain styles also include additional functions.  Heading styles are one of these: applying them to section titles and subtitles will allow you to generate a functional, linked Table of Contents in the Word document, and they allow you to generate bookmarks when converting to PDF. 

Styles you find on the Home tab. 

  1. Style Gallery is directly accessible, offers a quick-view of a customizable selection of styles. 
  2. Style Pane - with more options and styles - can be accessed by clicking the right-bottom corner of the Style Gallery
  3. It could be important in the beginning that you select All styles to see, under the Options at the bottom of the Style pane.    

What to do - 
If your titles are already formatted and you want to preserve the appearance:

You may already have some formatting - e.g. bold, bigger font size, underline, etc. - applied manually to your titles. There is this convenient way to keep the appearance but still have the required Heading styles applied.
If you are just at the beginning of formatting your document and your titles look quite the same as the rest of the text then the next sub-chapter might be more helpful for you.

So to apply Heading styles to already formatted titles do this:

  1. a.) Select the title you want to format
    b.) Note that the currently used style is highlighted on the Style Gallery / Style pane. 
  2. Right-click on the Heading style you want to apply for that title. 
    Note, different Heading styles are used to format chapter titles and various levels of subtitles like this:
    1. Chapter titles > apply Heading 1 style
    1.1. Subtitles apply Heading 2 style
    1.1.1. Sub-subtitles apply Heading 3 style; etc.

  3. Select Update Heading ... to match selection - this will apply & adjust the Heading style at the same time.
    You should see in result that the title did not change appearance, but now the selected Heading style is highlighted in the style list, showing it is that style used for the text.
  4. For all further titles of the same level now you can select the titles one by one and simply click the Heading style - automatically the new appearance will be applied. 
  5. Repeat the same process of adjusting and applying other Heading styles for other title levels in your document.


  • In most of the cases default styles do not fit the CEU thesis writing standards, so you need to modify the settings for each used style (Normal, Heading styles, Footnote Text, Footnote Reference, etc.).
  • Learn how to generate a Table of Contents based on Heading styles.
    Here you find the related tutorial.   

3.1. Modify styles to fit your needs


If the default style settings do not fit you - they definitely do not fit the CEU thesis formatting requirements - you can modify them.
Modifying styles the proper way is important as it saves time by automating the process: with one single modification all instances formatted with the same style could be updated automatically.

What to do

  1. Navigate to Home tab.
    You find the Styles gallery - a quick-view of customizable selection of styles - displayed on the ribbon's Home tab (1.). As default it does not show all styles you will be using while formatting your thesis. In the beginning it will be more convenient to use the Style pane
  2. Open Style pane
    Click the little arrow at bottom-right corner of the Styles gallery to open full Style pane. (2.)
  3. Set to see the all styles available
    A.) Click Options below at the bottom-right corner of Style pane. (3.)
    B.) Set 'Select styles to show' drop-down list to ''All styles'. (4.) This way you will have all available and newly created styles available in the Style pane.
  4. Modify & apply
    A.) Select the text you want to format with the style to modify. (5.) 
    (At this point you should actually see that the style currently used for the selected text is highlighted in the Style pane.)
    B.) Right-click the style or click the little arrow beside the style name (6.A.) and select Modify (6.B.).
    C.) Adjust the settings - font type, size, color, alignment, line spacing, indentation - under Formatting (7.A.). Further settings - for example special indentation options - can be found at the bottom of the pane by clicking the Format button (7.B.).
    D.) Cick OK to save the settings. 
    You should see that the selected text changes appearance. 
  5. Apply the modified style to all other necessary parts
    For all further parts of the text that should look/function the same way it is now enough to apply the modified style. It will automatically apply the new settings. 
  6. Modify all other necessary styles
    It will be useful to adjust some other styles - Normal style (the default basic style of each new document), further Heading levels, Footnote Text style, Footnote Reference style, quote style, etc. -  to your needs as well.
    Note 1.: Modifying the Normal style is recommended rather at the beginning of writing a new document. Modifying it on the go might cause some hassle. Note 2.: Modifying the Normal style will automatically adjust Footnote Text and Footnote Reference styles to the same font type which is a convenient feature.

Steps to modify styles