I have an Excel workbook with an index page containing a series of images, that are each hyperlinked to different worksheets. Can anybody suggest how I can publish this to PDF so that the hyperlinks work in the PDF? When I publish or use PDF Factory, the hyperlinks are not preserved (and bookmarks aren't created for that matter either).

I would prefer to do this with inbuilt functionality or free tools, though any suggestions welcome.

Also, it doesn't necessarily have to be with Excel. Publishing from powerpoint would be almost as good, and failing that, any easy solution which allows me to create a PDF containing clickable images that takes one to internal bookmarks might also be a workaround.

  • You really need to either learn the PDF markup or buy Acrobat for that, sorry. – digitxp Feb 1 '11 at 22:31
  • I've worked out that saving as PDF from Word will do this...i.e. internal hyperlinks are migrated to the PDF. However Excel and Powerpoint don't seem to do it. On the other side, you can edit the resulting PDF with Acrobat or 3rd party tool like Foxit Phantom to insert the links afterwards. – Nicholas Feb 3 '11 at 21:19

15 Answers 15


PDF hyperlinks need to be defined/created with the PDF authoring tool. Excel doesn't know anything about PDFs, so its hyperlinks don't necessarily mean anything in PDF format unless your authoring tool can both read the Excel links and translate them into the PDF it authors. It sounds like pdfFactory doesn't do this on its own. Perhaps pdfFactory Pro would grant you the feature set necessary to achieve this.

Adobe Acrobat is the application that works with the PDF format most natively, and can definitely do this, but it is pricey. There may be alternative 3rd party software that can also do links; you may be able to take your PDF without links and use some software like that to add them later.

This list of PDF software may be helpful.


I've worked out that saving as PDF from Word will do this...i.e. internal hyperlinks are migrated to the PDF. However Excel and Powerpoint don't seem to do it.

According to the answer I'll upvote, Excel will export external hyperlinks, not internal.


Only hyperlinks in Excel(2007) that link to external url work in the conversion to PDF even with Adobe Writer. Internal document reference link do not translate in PDF because the reference is lost in the save as.


I found that if I save the document as a web page, and then open it via Adobe Acrobat pro, it maintains the hyperlinks (downside is that it stuffs up the formatting).


Just use Adobe PDF, it works perfectly in there. But make sure the links are linked to defined names, not cells.

  • Doesn't work on Excel 2013/2016 – Paktas Jul 16 '18 at 18:42

Today I found the solution (I will give my translation of the Italian steps of my Excel 2007 version which might differ from an English version).

  1. Open your Excel file
  2. Click and open all the hyperlinks and TURN THEM ALL RED
  3. Close the umpteen pages you opened (just in case they could create problems)
  4. From the Office icon (or the "File" menu) go to "Save As"
  5. Select PDF or XPS
  6. Click on "Options..." Make sure you click "CONFORM TO ISO 19005-1 (PDF/A)" (may be "ISO 19005-1 compliant (PDF/A)") then OK
  7. In the bottom right, click on PUBLISH (or "Save")

That will save your file as a PDF and your hyperlinks will be active.


The thread helped me find the answer when I realized what the workarounds that were suggested were doing.

I also have a sheet that is used for formatting a dynamic presentation and I wanted it to print in PDF format to deliver to a customer. Within it, I wanted the hyperlinks to show up and change dynamically based on a vlookup table. When passed directly from sheet to sheet, of course it didn't work.

So, I ended up having to use VBA to write the http URL address directly to the property of the cell on the sheet where I wanted the hyperlink. Similar to when you right click on a sheet and manually insert the hyperlink through the Windows Excel dialog box. This way when the PDF is generated on print the file is saved with the hyperlink available in the pdf.

The problem was, I wanted the URL to change dynamically with a formula and I couldn't put a formula in the Excel dialog box.

I found that a VBA module/macro was able to lookup and write to the hyperlink property for that cell as the anchor.

This was the meat of what I was looking for and what I inserted into my macro to write the URL to the sheet when the user changed a dropdown selection:

With Worksheets("WorksheetA")

 .Hyperlinks.Add Anchor:=.Range("B145"), _
   Address:=Worksheets("WorksheetB").Range("L1"), _
   ScreenTip:="Click to Apply", _
   TextToDisplay:="Apply Now"
  End With

Where B145 what where I was inserting the URL and L1 was where I was picking it up. Then within L1, I used an excel sheet formula to build the URL.

="https://www.yourDot.com/" & 
    VLOOKUP(Dashboard!D5,Settings!A5:L24,12,FALSE) & "@yourDomain.com"

This way my URL on the PDF changed dynamically based on the selections and it was clickable on a pdf viewed from a PC or mobile device.

Hope it helps.


I explored all these options then remembered the LibreOffice (the former OpenOffice) was very good at this sort of thing. If you put your Excel .xlsx, existing internal links to named ranges and all, into LibreOffice Calc you can then use the LibreOffice 'File/Export as PDF' and you get a perfect internally linked PDF. Of course, not all the formatting and formulae options of .xlsx are supported compatibly in LibreOffice.


PDF Factory pro just acts like a printer. it takes a 'picture' of your document, and makes it into a PDF.

You will need to use software that actually creates a PDF without a printer driver, such as PDF Studio, Bluebeam, Nitro, Adobe, or several other tools.


I use hyperlinks in Excel 2007 to give a quick way for people to click & view pdf documents from the excel spreadsheet.

Basically I did the following:

  1. Save your PDFs in a folder on your computer/network.
  2. Then add a column in your spreadsheet to put the saved folder location.
  3. Also have the pdf file names in a column as well.
  4. In another blank column, enter a 'hyperlink' function from the Fx toolbar. ="PDF File Folder" (you might need to add an additional / at the end if it is not there) &"PDF Name"

  5. You can also name the hyperlinks whatever you want them to show as, I just list mine as 'Certficate Hyperlink' but that's just my preference.

  6. Click the hyperlink, and it should bring up the PDF listed for that row.

I can send a snap shot example if needed. Good luck, it's a lot easier than expected.


A workaround is to copy the links into MS Word and then back into Excel. "Laundering" the links through MSWord in this way changes the format of the hyperlink so it is no longer an equation (e.g. =hyperlink(a6,"View")) and is now just a cell with the word View in it with Hyperlink. Now the .pdf will have the correct value.

I want to find a way to change the cell format natively in Excel, rather than copy/paste with Word. If anyone knows how to accomplish that, I would be eternally grateful.

  • 2
    This looks like a new question rather than an answer... – DavidPostill Jan 3 '15 at 21:27
  • Welcome to SuperUser. The second paragraph of your post is not an answer but is instead a question of your own. Please post a new question and edit this answer to remove the 2nd paragraph. – Twisty Impersonator Jan 3 '15 at 21:41

I tried this ploy (to click on the ISO Option) to get internal links to work when saving an Excel file into a PF one, but I think this comment here on this forum is meant for making the EXTERANAL hyperlinks work and not the internal ones, which just point to somewhere else within the same Excel file. This technique does nothing for the internal links, as was evidenced from my test, When you click on an internal link, it does not necessarily open anything like external links do to open browser based windows. The internal links just go somewhere else within the same spreadsheet. I still have no answer on how to get the internal Excel hyperlinks to work when saving an Excel file into a PDF one. I am using Excel Pro 2010, and with this tool the external links work fine by simply saving the Excel file into a PDF one, and the ISO option is not needed at all..

For a temporary workaround for the internal hyperlinks to work, you can use popups in the resultant PDF file instead. Of course, this all only makes sense if all you need is just some text, such as with footnotes. To do this, first copy the text you want to show up in the pop-up (or simply type it in when applying the text to the pop-up), then highlight the text you want the pop-up to expand, and right click on it. It will create a pop-up window and paste in your copied text. So, whenever the mouse runs over this text in the PDF file (or you click on the text that is the hyperlink), the pop-up will appear. Also note, that if you make a mistake on the text you originally selected that causes the pop-up to appear, In the pop-up window there is a down arrow by the name (usually the computer name) in the top left corner of the pop-up. So, if you want to delete the pop-up box completely, then click on this down arrow and 'Delete' option will appear, and click on that. The original text in the PF file stays, and the highlighted color goes back to whatever it was before you created the pop-up, and there no longer will be a pop-up for this text. If you have a lot of internal hyperlink references, like I do, with many footnote references, then this is very tedious, and each time you recreate the PDF file from the Excel ne means you have to go and do this all over again! So, this is just a work around.

Vincent 12-29-2016

  • Please read the question again carefully. Your answer does not answer the original question. – DavidPostill Jan 10 '17 at 13:51

I have found the answer.

Nothing else worked for me. Adobe are apparently well aware of the bug and will address this in the future.

So I finally thought of using someone other than Adobe to create the pdf for me - but I didn't hold out much hope.

I found this URL - from Nitro Cloud. It's FREE to convert your excel document and it works!! I've just done it. You just attach the document you want to turn into a pdf and email it to yourself online. The URL is https://www.exceltopdfonline.com/en/

You can now thank me :-)

  • Well I can assure you it's not. I found the solution this evening and so I'm sharing it with you. Google Nitro Cloud directly if you're worried about this - I have no affiliation with them but like you I do hate clicking on links 'just in case'. Anyway it worked and I'm a very happy bunny! – Eleanor Dangerfield Feb 13 '17 at 3:07
  • I've just seen Brian's answer above mine and he mentions Nitro too (I hadn't seen his post before I tried it). So... Brian got there before me but now you all have the link for Nitro. :-) – Eleanor Dangerfield Feb 13 '17 at 3:09
  • Update: It worked with a test file just fine - but then when I completed a 70 page document with a bunch load of hyperlinks (around 5 on every page) the file was too big. I then split up the document into workable chunks and although it saved it as a PDF it did so without the hyperlinks so this is only a fix for really small documents/file sizes unfortunately...my search continues... – Eleanor Dangerfield Feb 21 '17 at 21:04

I found the issue when using a formula to create the hyperlink. If you record yourself creating a hyperlink in Excel then it gives you the below code which for me carried over into PDF.

Range("CellName").Hyperlinks.Add anchor:=Selection, _
Address:="www.google.com", _
TextToDisplay:="Work with PDF"

I was not able to get external hyperlinks to export as pdf either by printing to pdf or by save as pdf while using Excel 2007. I was, however able to get the external links to publish to pdf by going to "save as" and then to "other formats" and then selecting .pdf. As for internal links still not working.

  • 1
    Please note that the question specifically addresses an issue with internal links. Your answer, while helpful, will not resolve that issue. Thus, it is very likely to be removed from Super User. – Der Hochstapler Jul 27 '12 at 21:07

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