I'm trying to create a PDF document with clickable hyperlinks using Abode Illustrator 2023, however I've noticed a weird issue - if the URL contains the characters "fi" they will be replaced by "%251F" in the URL the computer tries to open if you click on it and will completely not display the "fi" characters in the yellow textbox that appears if you hover over the link.

I am making the text a hyperlink by going to Window > Attributes, selecting "Image Map" to be "Rectangle" and entering the URL below, but that one isn't being used. Whatever value I put in that textbox, clicking the hyperlink just sends me to what is written in the hyperlink text object, itself.

Obviously Illustrator is encoding the URLs for some reason, but does anyone know how I can fix this so I can have "fi" in my URLs?

It's not Illustrator (entirely), it's Adobe Reader. Having "Enable Protected Mode at startup" turned on causes it to double encode URLs. But even after turning that mode off the "fi" gets replaced by "%1F" for some reason. The same does NOT happen if I save the same text with Microsoft Word as a PDF.

1 Answer 1


Chances are this is not an issue with Acrobat or Reader, but rather because ligatures are turned on in Illustrator (I think "on" is the default). fi is a very common ligature.

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Go to Window > Type > OpenType to bring up the OpenType Panel in Illustrator. Ligatures can be adjusted or turned off using the OpenType Panel.

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You probably want ligatures all off for all URLS. You'll have to regenerate any PDFs afterwards.

It may be worth creating a special Character Style without ligatures for URLs.

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Uncheck everything there for the style. (The panel will look different in Illustrator 2023, but the options are there.)

More info regarding special characters can be found in the help files.

Microsoft apps may or may not support any given ligature for any given font. There's no correlation between how Adobe handles type and how Microsoft handles type.

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