Graphic Design & Branding tutorial: Create interactive PDFs

Embed videos, buttons and rollover effects to create dynamic, interactive PDF files that will entice your readers.

PDFs are useful things, not only for print documents, but also for online information. A fairly common design task is that of reproducing a company brochure that’s available in print, on the web.

Where you have a document that’s going to be viewed electronically, PDF can offer a lot more than just static pages of text and images; you can also add interactivity, links, and embedded video.

Adobe CS4 even lets you create page transitions within PDF documents. In this tutorial we’re going to learn how to embed video into our documents and set up a Poster image alternative to use when the user want to print the file.

We’ll also look at how to export PDFs correctly to support these elements. Next month we’ll take it a step further, adding playback control buttons and rollover effects. You’ll need a finished InDesign document and a short QuickTime video.

01. Open an existing document or create a new one especially for the purpose. Any standard InDesign document will work; you don’t need to use any specific settings or modes to be able to use the technique.

02. Create a graphics frame to hold your video. Keep in mind the proportions of your video, but also remember that InDesign will allow you to resize video to fill the frame in the same way as with regular images, so try to opt for a size that is a division of the original size to ensure optimal quality – divisions by four work best, so for a video that’s 720 pixels wide, 360 pixels (3.2 inches at 300dpi) will work well, but so will 540 pixels wide (4.8 inches).

Note: We may earn a commission when you buy through links on our site, at no extra cost to you. This doesn't affect our editorial independence. Learn more.

Read Next...