How to create PDF Bookmarks in a PDF

There are a number of applications that will output PDF files with bookmarks already created in those PDF files such as:
  1. Microsoft Word: As part of the Office suite, Word allows users to export documents to PDF with bookmarks automatically generated from the document’s headings and styles.
  2. LibreOffice Writer: An open-source word processor that supports exporting documents as PDFs with bookmarks. The bookmarks in the PDF can be generated from the document headings, making navigation easier in the final PDF document.
  3. Scribus: Although primarily a desktop publishing (DTP) program, Scribus can export documents to PDF with bookmarks. It’s designed for layout, typesetting, and preparation of files for professional-quality image-setting equipment.
  4. Apple Pages: Part of the iWork suite, Pages is a word processor for macOS that offers the ability to export documents to PDF with bookmarks. The bookmarks can be generated from the table of contents or document headings.
  5. Google Docs: A web-based word processor that allows users to download documents as PDFs with an option to include document outline items as bookmarks in the PDF. This feature makes it easy to navigate the exported PDF document.
  6. Microsoft PowerPoint: While primarily a presentation program, PowerPoint can export presentations to PDF with bookmarks. These bookmarks are generated based on the slide titles, facilitating easy navigation through the PDF.
  7. Apache OpenOffice Writer: Similar to LibreOffice Writer, this open-source word processor can export documents to PDF with bookmarks, which are created from the headings in the document.
  8. Adobe InDesign: Part of the Adobe Creative Cloud product suite. InDesign is Adobe’s software for arranging and designing pages for both print and digital media, including flyers, posters, stationery, slideshows, and other formats.
There are two alternatives for creating PDF bookmarks in Adobes PDF Editor and Viewer, Adobe Acrobat if they don’t already exist:

Mapsoft BookMarker plugin for Adobe® Acrobat®

Bookmarker is an Adobe® Acrobat® plug-in to create bookmarks in pdf. It is easy to use and far easier than the manual process of creating bookmarks in Adobe Acrobat. Just:
  • Open Bookmarker
  • Select text within your PDF file that you wish to use to define a bookmark level.
  • Define which level this text represents
  • Run Bookmarker to create PDF bookmarks that will appear in the bookmark hierarchy.
  • Use our optional TOCBuilder plug-in to create a fully linked table of contents (TOC) in your document

Creating and adding PDF bookmarks with BookMarker to pdf files is straightforward. In the Bookmarker dialog, you can easily and quickly create multi-level bookmarks to any depth. Bookmarker can be used with Adobe Acrobat Standard and Adobe Acrobat Pro.

create pdf bookmarks text selection

By keeping the Bookmarker window (see below) open and using the TextSelect tool from the Acrobat toolbar, you highlight a text sample, such as a heading or sub-heading, whose attributes define a specific bookmark level. Unlike other bookmarking tools that limit the number of levels you can create, BookMarker imposes no such restrictions.

Mapsoft Bookmarker plug-in to create PDF bookmarks

Used in conjunction with TOCBuilder, BookMarker gives you unrivalled power and flexibility. Once you have decided how you want the bookmark levels to be set, the settings can be saved for reuse using the Name configuration functionality.

Other User Interface Options when you create PDF Bookmarks

From Page … To – this allows a range of pages to be defined. For example this could be used to just specify the pages in a chapter. This is the pages as defined by the navigation page numbers in Acrobat and may not match the page numbering physically printed on the PDF pages.
Expanded – all bookmarks on that level will be expanded if set
Keep existing bookmarks  – If you set this checkbox, any existing bookmarks in the PDF bookmark list will be retained. When the plugin creates new bookmarks in the PDF, it will add these bookmarks to the existing bookmark list.

See Adobe help for Acrobat in the Adobe help system for editing bookmarks.

What next?

See the buttons at the top of the page for options. However, if Bookmarker doesn't provide you with the functionality that you need, or maybe part of the functionality? If you are interested in discussing a more complete solution then please send an email to by clicking the button below: