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Automatically Creating Hyperlinks in your Adobe InDesign Documents

Wouldn't it be great if, each time you published your catalogue, directory, price list ... or other database-based publication, you could automatically build hyperlinks for your contacts, products ... or other information? Well now you can - with CatBase doing all the work for you!

See a video that explains how to create hyperlinks manually in InDesign, and how to do it automatically the CatBase way.

What kinds of Hyperlinks can be created?

You can choose between two types of hyperlink: Email and URL.

Hyperlinks to Email Addresses

When you click on an email hyperlink in a PDF document, it opens your default email application, creates a new email, and addresses it to the email address that was referenced in the link.

Hyperlinks to URLs

Click on a URL hyperlink in a PDF document and the referenced web page opens up in your default web browser.

How to Make the Hyperlinks

It's easy to set them up in CatBase. There are just a couple of steps involved ...

  1. Create a Hyperlink Style
  2. Select your options in the Hyperlink tab of the field that you want to attach the hyperlink to.

Step One: Create a Hyperlink Style

Hyperlink Styles determine what your hyperlinks will look like in the InDesign and PDF documents. They are the options you set when you create a new hyperlink in your InDesign document – the difference is that in CatBase you just create the style once and then it can be selected for any of your links. You can have any number of hyperlink styles.

To create a new hyperlink style, click on the Style Sheets button on the main CatBase window and choose Hyperlink Styles from the popup menu. A new hyperlink style looks like this:

These options are the same as the ones you will find in InDesign when you create a new hyperlink. Set up your preferred style and save the Hyperlink Style record.

Step Two: Set up the hyperlink in your Publishing Style Sheet

Publishing Style Sheets are what tell CatBase which data you want to publish and how you want it all to be formatted. Click here to learn more about Publishing Style Sheets.

Open the Element that you want to add a hyperlink to, and click on the Hyperlink tab. In this example we're going to set up a hyperlink for the website address field:

Hyperlink tab

The Hyperlink popup menu contains three options:

Choose URL; some more options appear on the window:

Choose a different Hyperlink Style if necessary.

Link is built from: This is where you choose how the actual link will be created. The choices are:

Choice Description
Same as text

The link will be taken from whatever is in the Element: a field, the result of a Formula, etc. This is fine if the field contains the full URL - eg "http://www.mywebsite.com"

Contents of another field Use this option when the actual link is in a different field to the field that is being published. For example, suppose you are publishing a directory of members of an organisation. You want to create a link to each company’s web site and you want the link to be on the company’s name. You would choose the company name field for the Element and then select the Website field to create the link.
Static text + field data: This option lets you build hyperlinks dynamically. See the detailed explanation below.


Contents of another field

When you choose this option, the screen changes:


Choose the field that you want the hyperlink to be created from.

Static text + field data

This option lets you build hyperlinks dynamically. Suppose you are publishing a product catalogue and you want to link each product’s name to its page in your online shop. A complete link to that product page might look something like this:


Most of the pathname will be the same for each product; the only difference is the product id number (“31” in this example). In the example shown, the link includes a database query for the record number (the part after the question mark – "&products_id=31").

Suppose you have a field in your CatBase database called “ShopRecordNumber” which contains the online database’s record number for each product. The hyperlink options might be set up like this:


Or the link might include a query on the product name instead of the record number - perhaps like this:


As each record is published, CatBase will create the link by joining the static text and the contents of the selected field together.

If you’re not sure how to build your hyperlinks, check with your webmaster.

Styling the hyperlink

The Hyperlink Styles determines how the hyperlink will appear on the page (with or without a highlight, etc.) but it does not determine the character formatting for the link. Let's say you want your hyperlinks to appear like this:

Website: www.catbase.com

You will select a Stylesheet for the paragraph, and a Character Style for the link text. You might create a Character Style named "hyperlink". You can then go to the Preferences tab on the Element window and choose the hyperlink Character Style:

character style

Publishing the hyperlinks

OK, so you've got your database all set up and ready to publish your catalogue, directory, or whatever it is. All you have to do now is:

  1. Publish the data from CatBase using either the InDesign or InDesign with Xtags publishing destination
  2. Import the published file into your Adobe InDesign layout
  3. The hyperlinks are all created and styled as specified
  4. Do whatever you need to finalise the document
  5. Export it to PDF. Be sure to select the Hyperlinks checkbox in the Include area of the PDF export dialogue!
  6. Your hyperlinks will now be active in the PDF document:

active hyperlink in pdf document

What to do next ...

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