top of page

AP - PDF Bookmarks

Good blessed day to you there, welcome to the first installment of Bogus Cheesecake's guide to Affinity Publisher, where I explain a method of accomplishing something within the program to hopefully alleviate your frustration and elevate your proficiency.

This time we'll look PDF bookmarks - how do they work, what is the point of them, and how do you obtain this precious jewel for yourself? This topic, like many, is covered in affinity publisher's tutorial library, but we'll still go over the process in detail to give you an alternative explanation and make sure you know where all those tricky menus are at.

Please note this does not address creating bookmarks using your table of contents, as we're going to be looking at the whole process from the ground up to help your baseline comprehension. However, that process *is* covered in the Publisher tutorial video at the above link should you be interested.

Anyway, let's begin!

PDF bookmarks provide a quick way to access specific pages, help sort longer projects, and perhaps most importantly - they look nice. Bookmarks add an extra layer of professionalism to your PDFs that is unassuming and yet noticeable, and I would highly recommend at least considering whether they are worth the extra time for your project.

Bolarius as seen in Adobe Reader, with bookmarks

Do you *need* bookmarks for your project? Not at all! You can create many things in Publisher without even realizing bookmarks exist. However, bookmarks are a godsend for medium-to-long projects where navigation can be difficult, and the attention to detail will be noticed by your readers.

Adding bookmarks to your PDF in AP is accomplished in three primary steps.

1. Establish your Anchors

You will be using anchors to create each of the bookmarks for your PDF (among other uses we won't touch on in this tutorial). Adding anchors is a relatively easy process. Simply highlight the section you want, right click, select "Interactive" and "Insert Anchor". A pop-up will let you change the name of the anchor, which is how it will appear in your PDF bookmark. Make sure "Export as a PDF Bookmark" is checked.

Like all things in life, this isn't permanent, so no worries if you make a mistake.

Highlight text, right-click, and select "Interactive" > "Insert Anchor" > "OK"

2. Sort and Nest Anchors

Once you have plastered an anchor on each section you would like to display as a bookmark in your PDF, the next step is to sort and nest them. Go ahead and access your anchor list. This can be done by accessing the Studio menu from the View menu dropdown at the top of your screen,

From the top bar, "View" > "Studio" > "Anchors"

You might notice that your anchors are not in the order of how you created them. Affinity Publisher makes the rather obtuse decision of sorting all your anchors alphabetically. As unintuitive as this is, they will still be in the order in which they appear in your document once you export it to PDF, so just do your best to ignore your unease and keep moving.

Once you open your anchors, you will see everything listed as a standalone item. We will need to sort them manually to make sure they are nested in your final product. This step can likely be ignored for smaller projects that are split up into only a few main chapters, but the ability to collapse large sections of bookmarks is valuable in larger PDFs.

An example of unnested anchors (left) and nested anchors (right)

Nesting your anchors is done simply by dragging and dropping each anchor into its parent section. You will see your nested sections build as you continue the process, and again, don't fret that things appear out of order. If you nest an anchor incorrectly, simply click on said anchor and drag it to its immediate left, still on the same line, and let go. It should unnest itself appropriately.

Nested anchors, with the bookmark toggle to the right.

Each anchor displays a tab to the right of it. This is the option to have the bookmark appear in your PDF, so make sure its checked.

Conversely, you can make sure to uncheck anchors you have in your document that SHOULDN'T be in the PDF, such as anchors for hyperlinks or other uses.

3. Exporting

Once you've finished nesting and are ready to see your hard work pay off, it's time to export! You'll follow your standard exporting steps, and we'll just want to make sure one teensy setting box is checked or this whole thing falls apart.

In your export settings, access "More" to open up the larger export setting options. "Include Bookmarks" is located about halfway down the menu. Make sure that's checked.

From export settings, select "More", and scroll until you see "Include bookmarks"

This box should be automatically checked if you're using any preset export settings, but if you're exporting and scratching your head wondering where your bookmarks are at it's worth double-checking these settings. Once you've finished, crack open that cold fresh PDF and verify your bookmarks are in working order.


And so! That just about wraps up the process for manually entering and implementing bookmarks into your PDF. This is one of those processes that becomes second nature after you've done it once or twice, but can be confusing and unintuitive at first glance. Just remember, as with all things, take your time and take a break if necessary, and good luck in all your present and future endeavors!

Special thanks to Joel Kleine with whom I have spent many nights in the labyrinths of Affinity Publisher. You can find him on Twitter here.

Want to make sure you don't miss a post? Join our mailing list!

If you found this post helpful or entertaining, please consider contributing to our cause!

Have an Affinity Publisher question you just can't solve? Reach out to us on Twitter!

258 views0 comments


bottom of page