How to add PDF bookmarks using Acrobat X or Acrobat XI

Learn how to add PDF bookmarks or create PDF bookmarks using Acrobat X or Acrobat XI.

By Donna Baker – March 26, 2012


In this tutorial, learn how to add PDF bookmarks or create PDF bookmarks to help your readers find content in your PDF file. Follow these quick steps to learn how to add PDF bookmarks to your documents.

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How to add PDF bookmarks using Acrobat X or Acrobat XI

Donna Baker – March 26, 2012

Bookmarks are a great way to help your readers find content in your PDF file. To set the magnification, click Fit to Window Width and Enable Scrolling. Use the navigation tools to display the first chapter heading. Click the New Bookmark button. A new bookmark shows in the pane. Type the chapter’s name for the bookmark and click anywhere off the field.

Navigate to the next chapter’s start page. Let’s automate the bookmark process. Click the Hand tool, then click into the text to activate the Text cursor. Double-click the title text to select it, right-click to open the shortcut menu, and click Add Bookmark. Or you can use the shortcut keys: CTRL + B (Windows) or COMMAND + B (Mac). Acrobat automatically adds the new bookmark. Click anywhere off the label to deselect the text.

Add the rest of the bookmarks. To test the bookmarks, click a bookmark in the list, and you see the document jump to the start of that chapter.

You can also add bookmarks to specific content in a chapter, like an image. Find the image you want to bookmark, set the magnification you want to use, and click the New Bookmark button. A blank field shows below the selected bookmark. Type the bookmark’s label, then click anywhere to deselect the field.

To test the image’s bookmark, click a different bookmark and then click the image’s bookmark—there's the image!

To set how the document opens, click File > Properties. When the Document Properties dialog box opens, click the Initial View tab. Click the Navigation tab drop-down arrow and click Bookmarks Panel and Page. Click OK to close the dialog box.

Save the file to save the settings. Close and then reopen the document. The file opens at the first page, shows your list of Bookmarks, and uses the designated magnification.

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Products covered:

Acrobat XIAcrobat X

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Comments for this tutorial are now closed.

Lori Kassuba

5, 2016-01-22 22, 2016

Hi Jon Cook,

Good suggestion, thanks for taking the time to post.


Jon Cook

10, 2016-01-19 19, 2016

The article is good as far as it goes. However, it is quite easy to insert bookmarks automatically. In the Bookmarks panel, pull down the Options menu at the top and choose “New Bookmarks from Structure.” This requires the document to have been created from a Word doc with headings.

If it was created from a doc without headings (but not a document scanned as images, ie, without character recognition), click Settings >Tools > Accessibility > Add Tags to Document and Acrobat will try to infer headings. Both these are in X - I presume they are similar in later versions. This option may require quite a bit of editing/moving of bookmarks, but still usually quicker than inserting them one by one as suggested by the article.

Lori Kassuba

3, 2015-10-06 06, 2015

Hi Mitch,

Does this happen on all PDFs with bookmarks and links? Are you viewing the PDF in a browser? If so, make sure you’re using the Adobe Reader Plug-in and not a native plugin (i.e., Firefox PDF plug-in) as these don’t support all the interactive features of PDF files.


Lori Kassuba

3, 2015-10-06 06, 2015

Hi ansar,

Can you give us some background on what version of Acrobat/Reader you’re using and what OS?



6, 2015-10-02 02, 2015

I just bookmark pages of pdf file
after that I change the location of the file
the bookmarks of the file is not there anymore
can u plz help me with that??



9, 2015-10-01 01, 2015

I recently installed Adobe Acrobat Pro XI.  I see the bookmarks, but the navigation won’t work.  Links in the document don’t function either. 

Any solutions?

Lori Kassuba

6, 2015-07-17 17, 2015

Hi Patricia Heil,

You need Acrobat and not just the free Reader to create bookmarks. Once the bookmarks are in a PDF, you can navigate with them using just Reader.


Patricia Heil

4, 2015-07-14 14, 2015

I have a fresh new computer with a virgin copy of Acrobat Reader XI.0.0.  It does not have the buttons shown in the tutorial.  It does not respond to Control B.  At all.  I checked for upgrades and applied the MUI upgrade offered to me.  I had added bookmarks to this file when I was using Acrobat Reader 10.  It’s a long document and I don’t want to keep losing my place.  I have now restarted my computer after applying the upgrades.  Still no bookmark capability.

Lori Kassuba

10, 2014-12-02 02, 2014

Hi Bat Masterson Jr.,

You can use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl + B to create a bookmark. If you wants to give it a name at the same just select some text and use the keyboard shortcut.


Bat Masterson Jr.

7, 2014-11-26 26, 2014

Here’s an idea: Let a user right-click on a page, and select a “bookmark page” item.  I know it sounds radical, but give it some thought.

Bat Masterson Jr.

7, 2014-11-26 26, 2014

I have a .pdf file, from a 3rd party.  ALL I want to do is mark the most recent page that I have read, so I can jump to that one the next time I open the document.

WHY does Adobe make this so confusing?  I still don’t get it.  Have pretty much given up trying.

Lori Kassuba

5, 2014-06-24 24, 2014

Hi anushree,

You can add bookmarks to scanned PDF documents. To have the bookmark open other PDF files, just edit the bookmark properties.



12, 2014-06-19 19, 2014

hi,can i add bookmarks to a scanned document using adobe XI?i need to have a layered pdf an introduction bookmark could open up to 2 pdfs.pls let me know asap.thanks.anushree

Lori Kassuba

2, 2014-02-06 06, 2014

Hi Karl,

The only thing I can think of that would disallow bookmarking, is security or a digital signature. Do you see a lock icon in the left-hand panel or a blue ribbon at the top of your document?



9, 2014-02-03 03, 2014

I have Adobe Acrobat XI,I have this one PDF that for lack of a better description, will not let me bookmark, none of the features in bookmarks are activated.  Am I doing something wrong or is there something imbedded in the pdf that will bot allow that function? If so can I override it?

Lori Kassuba

7, 2014-01-30 30, 2014

Hi Andy,

Sorry to hear you’re having problems. As an alternative, you can access the entire transcript of the video tutorial by clicking on the View Transcript link just below the video window.



5, 2014-01-29 29, 2014

Message: “Gain unprecedented creative control with new expressive features and visual performance improvements in Adobe Flash Player 10.2.”

Tutorial don’t work in Flash Player

donna baker

6, 2014-01-25 25, 2014

Hi Jack -

Yes, definitely. Bookmarks have been in Acrobat for many versions. You can add them via the Bookmarks panel.


donna baker

6, 2014-01-25 25, 2014

Hi Sherry -

I definitely agree with you. Bookmarks are such a basic navigation method, and I always look for them, too.

You’re welcome - I’m glad the articles helped.


Sherry Quinn

7, 2014-01-21 21, 2014

Large PDF documents that do not have bookmarks are a pet peeve of mine. So I wanted to say thanks for the articles on bookmarks. I hope more people use them in their documents.

Jack W Horvath

4, 2014-01-21 21, 2014

I have Acrobat Pro 9.  Can I do bookmarks with this version?


2, 2013-12-31 31, 2013

Thank you Lori Kassuba!

Lori Kassuba

8, 2013-12-19 19, 2013

Hi Khuldoon Hameed,

All you need to do is create the bookmarks for the subsection and then drag them to the right under the Chapter bookmarks to create a subset in the bookmark navigation pane.


Khuldoon Hameed

6, 2013-12-18 18, 2013

your tutorial is good i want to know how can i add sub catagories to bookmarks for examople

chapter number one have 5 section i want to put them in sub catagory of chapter number one how to do that

donna baker

5, 2013-12-02 02, 2013

Hi Ivan -

No, you can’t copy bookmarks across books as the coding is different from book to book. You can use named destinations, which are the best if you intend to change any content in the book as they always lead to the same named location, just like an anchor on a web page.

I recommend you explore the JavaScript forum on to see if there’s anything already listed there you could use, or post to that forum for assistance.



1, 2013-11-26 26, 2013

Most books I publish using Acrobat Pro have the same structure.

How can I copy bookmarks structures across books. Can you save bookmarks and copy into another document/book? At the moment I have to create the bookmarks by hand and link 1 by 1 to using set destination. Is there a script I could use to import/export bookmarks?

Do you have example javascripts to open a page by match text in the bookmark. Something like “open page with matching string”.

Lori Kassuba

1, 2013-11-01 01, 2013

Hi ealvarado,

Bookmarks and OCR are only available in Acrobat and not the free Reader.



2, 2013-10-31 31, 2013

Is this feature only available in the paid versions of Acrobat, or can someone add bookmarks using the free version?  What about the OCR feature?


3, 2013-10-09 09, 2013

Good and clear presentation.


7, 2013-01-10 10, 2013

Thank you very, very, very much for posting this.  It was very helpful!

donna baker

9, 2012-05-22 22, 2012

Hi Marko -

Thanks for posting. I’m happy the tutorial met your needs.


MarKo Hubert

10, 2012-04-15 15, 2012

I’m very please with this tutorials. At last I found here what I was looking for that makes my day.

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