Automatically creating Hyperlinks in your InDesign documents

What kinds of Hyperlinks can be created?

You can choose among three types of hyperlink: Email, URL, and Cross-Reference (the Cross-Reference option was added in Version 7.3 r20).

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.


Using our special Make xRefs script for InDesign, CatBase can create active cross-references in your InDesign documents. For example, you could create a cross-reference from a product's additional information page to its main listing. For a detailed explanation and Tutorial, see this page.

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:
  1. Select the Publishing main tab
  2. Expand the Hyperlink Styles topic from the left-hand menu
  3. Click New Hyperlink Style

A new hyperlink style looks like this:

The InDesign 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 Stylesheet

Publishing Stylesheets 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 Hyperlinks and Cross-Refs tab:

The Hyperlink popup menu contains three options:

  • None
  • Email
  • URL

We'll create a hyperlink to each product's detail page on our website.
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:

Same as text
The link will be taken from whatever is in the Element: a field, the result of a Rule, etc. This is fine if the field contains the full URL - eg ""
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.

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!

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:

In this case, you would select the Product Name field in the Source field popup instead of the ShopRecordNumber field.

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.

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: