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Working with Interactive and Multimedia in Adobe InDesign CS6

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Sandee Cohen shares the wealth of features in Adobe InDesign that let you create interactive elements for electronic documents.
This chapter is from the book

At the risk of sounding like an old codger, I can remember when a page-layout program only laid out print files. The idea of creating “push buttons” that sent you flying to other pages—or even other documents—was totally unfathomable. After all, how was someone supposed to press on a weather summary on the front page of a newspaper to jump to the full weather map on the last page?

So it is with some amazement that I write this chapter. Page layout no longer refers to just printed pages. InDesign has a wealth of features that let you create interactive elements for electronic documents.

Types of Interactive Elements

There are five types of interactive elements you can add to InDesign documents: Hyperlinks, Cross-References, Bookmarks, Buttons and Forms. Each has its own particular uses, but some of the features may overlap. Before you start work, decide which type of interactive element is right for you.






Adds a hotspot area to text or objects where you can click to move to other parts of the document, other documents, or Web pages.

Can be applied directly to the text inside a story. Hyperlinks can also be automatically applied to the entries in a table of contents or index using those InDesign features.

Provides only very primitivevisual indications of the linked area.

Cross Reference

Adds a hotspot area to text that is linked to other parts of the document.

Also adds dynamic text that indicates the position of the cross-reference.

Provides only primitive visual indications of the linked area.


Adds a navigational element that is visible in the Bookmarks pane of Adobe Reader or Adobe Acrobat.

The Bookmark pane can be set to be visible at all times in the PDF document. Can be created automatically using the Table of Contents feature.

Requires some education to teach the reader how to use the Bookmarks pane in the Reader. Is not directly on the document page. No special visual indication in the document.


Adds a hotspot area that can contain text or graphics. This hotspot can be set to invoke a wide variety of behaviors including navigation as well as movie or audio playback.

Offers the most navigational and design choices.

Buttons can't be created automatically from text or styles. Requires the most work to create.


Adds an area that can be used in Acrobat to enter information or mark checkboxes or radio buttons.

These forms can be filled out in the PDF and the information then sent back to the creator for tabulation.

Forms can't be created automatically. Requires the most work to create.

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