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Putting PDF and other file formats online

I'm frequently asked how to get the information in PDF documents online.

Short answer:
Put the PDF file on your server and link to it from an HTML page!

Long answer:
Web servers are capable of holding any type of file—HTML, GIF, JPEG, PDF, DOC, WPD, PSD, etc. When we are working in an HTML (Web) environment, it is natural for us to link to other HTML files, and incorporate GIF and JPEG graphics into Web pages.

Simply put, if you have two pages in your Web folder:

index.html and

and you want to link from your home page (index.html) to your second page, you can simply create some text ("click here for page 2!") and link to the second page.

If you have a PDF file, you can put it in the same Web folder (or perhaps a separate folder on your site for PDF documents), make text on your index page, and link to the PDF file the same way you would link to an HTML file. When someone clicks a PDF link in their Web browser, the browser automatically downloads the PDF, launches Acrobat Reader, and displays the document.

You can also put a Word, WordPerfect, text, Photoshop, etc. document on a Web server and link to it as above. This is an easy way to distribute newsletters, graphics, etc., You could email the documents to your 300 favorite correspondents, but what if there are only ten of them who actually want the 3 MB newsletter? Well, you've inconvenienced 280 people by making them wait for the unwanted file to download.

Instead, you can put the file on your Web site, send an email with the URL, and let the recipients decide whether they want to download the file.

Additional tips:

  • Don't forget to delete the file when it is no longer needed--Disk space on Web servers can be overloaded if you don't clean out old files regularly.
  • Don't forget to upload the PDF with the HTML file. Since you always test your links after uploading a new or edited page (right?), you should notice right away if you forgot to upload the PDF.

Have a Web
Ask Bob Hoffmann

Links to PDF's are no different than links to HTML documents

Bottom window shows two HTML files and a PDF file in the site folder. Middle window shows index.html document. The first link is to page2.html, and the second link (with address visible in the Properties Inspector above) is to PDF.pdf.

Refer questions or comments to Bob Hoffmann, 509-335-7744. Accessibility | Copyright | Policies
CAHNRS Information Department, 401 Hulbert Hall, Washington State University, Pullman, Washington, 99164-6244.