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I couldn't find any simple resource saying how to make Adobe Indesign tables of contents interactive, so that each item in the electronic version of the exported PDF is a live hyperlink / cross reference that jumps straight to the appropriate page.

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Turns out, the reason I couldn't find any info on how to do it, or any options relating to it, or remember anything about the steps to do it is, it just happens automatically. Nice...

You don't need to do anything except make sure that, when exporting the PDF, under Include, Hyperlinks is ticked. (and of course make sure that hyperlinks, tags and interactive elements aren't removed by any PDF optimiser it gets run through after exporting).

enter image description here

The downside of it just happening automatically is, it's not so flexible. Each ToC item is rigidly one link, and any link-specific styling has to be applied to the paragraph style as a whole. You can't manually make part of it a link, since that would mean links within links. There also don't seem to be any equivalent options to the Appearance options in a manually applied hyperlink, other than applying a standard paragraph style.


You also have the option of turning table of contents items into PDF bookmarks on the Table Of Contents style page (again, remember to also tick to include these in the export), but you don't need to do this to make them cross link.

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    You can control specific in-document links via the hyperlink panel in Indesign. Same with Bookmarks. It's not as automated but allows far more control over the links. – Scott Feb 13 '13 at 17:15
  • @Scott I can find the auto-generated bookmarks in Window > Interactive > Bookmarks with options to delete, rename and re-order, but I can't find any way to see or edit the ToC links in the hyperlinks / cross references panel - is there a way, or do you just mean manually created hyperlinks (not ToC links)? – user56reinstatemonica8 Feb 13 '13 at 17:58
  • Manually creating links. In some piece I've done it's easier to manually create the TOC links than it is to remove, edit, or otherwise alter the auto-generated links in Acrobat. – Scott Feb 13 '13 at 18:01
  • This just saved me so much googling - thanks! – user52028 Oct 6 '15 at 0:48
  • @Scott I know how to make TOCs and CrossReferences to endnotes etc that become live links in PDFs, but how to turn cross-references automatically into PDF/ebook bookmarks? – wide_eyed_pupil Nov 13 '15 at 18:31

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