Cameron Laird's personal notes on named destinations in PDF



"How can I link not just to a PDF document, but to a particular page or word or image within that document?" This is a frequently-asked question. None of the answers I found satisfied me, so I wrote my own.

What do I mean by a hyperlink to a page within a document? Consider this example: some extant copies of Paul Halmos' "How to Write Mathematics" are garbled: they show TeX source where nice mathematical glyphs were intended. Here is an example of the blemish. Note that I didn't have to write, "turn to page 5 of this document to see ..."; a named destination gave me the ability to direct your browser to bring up exactly the intended page.


"Named destinations" are an important instance of PDF "open parameters", characterized in Adobe's "Open Parameters for PDF". Others of likely interest are zoom and search.


In 2004, Dan Shea published in Planet PDF "Linking to Pages or Destinations within PDFs". It presents Acrobat as necessary to create named destinations. While Acrobat is widely available, its licensing is restrictive, and it is difficult to automate.

GUI alternatives include use of PDFMark Operators with Word, OpenOffice, PowerPoint, Name It, ...

For programmatic preparation of named destinations, I generally use


Planet PDF also relies on Acrobat in "Displaying the Current Named Destinations" (from 2000).


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"Tools for PDF internal links" supplements the explanations of this page.

Cameron Laird's personal notes on named destinations in PDF/