How to tag a link in PDF using Adobe Acrobat Pro

This post will go over how to tag a link/hyperlink within a PDF using Adobe Acrobat Pro DC.

Video Overview of How to tag a link in PDF

Lets dive right in!

Link tags need to be structured in a very specific way. Here is that way:

P > Link > Link-OBJR and Link text

Here is an example.

Example of links

Links do not always need to be children tags to P tags, but they can never exist as the parent tag themselves.

Don’t forget the link basics

  • Descriptive URLs: When adding hyperlinks in a PDF, it’s essential to use descriptive URLs that indicate the content or destination of the link. A user should be able to understand where the link will take them just by reading the URL or the accompanying text. This is especially crucial for users who navigate documents using screen readers, as the descriptive text is what they hear when they come across a hyperlink. For example, instead of using “Page 2” as the hyperlink text, use something more descriptive like “More on PDF Accessibility Guidelines.
  • Avoid www. addresses: When referring to websites within your PDF, it’s recommended to avoid using raw web addresses starting with ‘www.’ While these addresses technically serve as links, they lack descriptive context which can leave users guessing about the content they’re about to access. A more effective method would be to embed these links into meaningful text that describes the destination or content.
  • Avoid “click here” language: Phrases like “click here” or “follow this link” are not helpful in terms of accessibility. These phrases don’t provide any context about the destination of the link or what the user should expect to find there. They are also not descriptive enough for users who navigate with screen readers, or users who tab through links on a page rather than using a mouse to click on them. Instead of using “click here” language, make your link text descriptive and meaningful. For instance, instead of “Click here to learn more about PDF/UA,” use “Learn more about PDF/UA.” In this example, the latter offers a clear and immediate context for what users can expect when they select the link.

How to create links

Starting from Word

The easiest method to properly embed links is to use MS Word to create your PDF. If your links are properly formatted in Word, and you properly create your PDF, the links will come through perfectly.

Starting in PDF

In most situations, it is easier to simply delete the link completely, and re-add the link into the PDF.

Adding New Links and Managing Multiline Links

Adding new links to a document can be quick and efficient. After selecting the desired text, right-click and select ‘Create Link’. Then, specify the link destination. This method automatically adds an object reference and correctly formats the link. To ensure visibility and recognition, assign a different color to the link and underline it, if necessary.

right click the text you want to make a link and select create link

Multiline links often present a unique challenge. In these situations, it can be beneficial to delete the links and retag the entire text at once. This technique maintains the link’s accessibility and ensures it has a single link object reference.

The Importance of Alternate Text for Link Accessibility

A critical component of making PDF links accessible is the addition of alternate text. Providing additional context for the link, alternate text is a requirement for certain accessibility standards. The practice of adding alternate text to the W3C Web Accessibility Initiative link, for instance, demonstrates how this gives additional information to the user.

To add alternate text to a link follow these steps:

  1. Find the figure tag in the Tags panel
  2. Right-click and select properties
  3. Update the alternate text and include the hyperlink again
Find the figure tag in the Tags panel

Right-click and select properties

Update the alternate text and include the hyperlink again

In conclusion, while making PDF links accessible requires some effort, it is a crucial step in fostering an inclusive digital environment. With a little patience and attention to detail, this skill is within everyone’s grasp.

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