Fixing broken anchor links in PDFs

Word documents that include links with anchors can cause problems when exported to PDF. Fortunately, there is a simple workaround, albeit with one minor caveat.

The problem, specifically, is that links with anchors, on conversion to PDF, often end up with the “#” symbol converted to “%23”, thus breaking the link.

Screenshot: Link Properties window showing a broken link
Figure 1: A broken web link

Fixing the problem manually

You can, of course, manually edit such a link in Acrobat to change the “%23” back to a “#” character. To do so, activate the Link tool, right-click the link in question, select Properties, Actions, Edit, and then edit the link in the Edit URL dialogue box.

However, this could be a time-consuming operation for documents containing many such links.

Fixing the problem at source

To avoid the problem altogether, when converting from Word to PDF:

    • Click File, Save As
    • In the Save As dialogue box, from the Save as type dropdown, select PDF
    • Be sure to select the Standard “Optimize for” option (if “Minimum size” is selected, the PDF will be created without any tags)
Screenshot: Save As window showing the options to select
Figure 2: Alternative “Save As” method
  • Click the Save button. Links with anchors will then be exported correctly
Screenshot: Actions window
Figure 3: Correctly exported link with anchor

InDesign files

Note: this problem is specific to Word-originated files. It does not occur with documents created in InDesign.

PDF/A issue

Lastly, the caveat mentioned above is that this method may cause Unicode/font embedding problems if you want to subsequently convert the PDF to PDF/A format.

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