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Notes to Other Writers Using Word and Acrobat DC

This discussion is what Americans call inside baseball. Every non-writer can safely tune out.

I’m using the latest version of Microsoft Office for the Mac, as well as the expensive Adobe Acrobat DC for creating .pdf files. After much experimenting I have found a way to preserve internal hyperlinks or bookmarks in a Word doc when converting that document to .pdf. Adobe doesn’t let you do that on its own.

Many people want my seventy five page Places to Visit or Collect in the Southwest file to have a table of contents. Fine. My preference for an electronic document is to hyperlink it, to make the TOC interactive. Click on a link in the TOC that says “Arizona” and “Whoosh”, you are taken immediately to the right page. I could make a TOC with every rock shop clickable and instantly locatable. I once did a forty page book proposal in this manner and it was actually fun to zoom around the document in this way. However.

I have distributed previous versions of this file as a .pdf to facilitate universal use. So, I started creating a hyperlinked TOC in the Word doc in which I create it. I’d later convert it to .pdf. After a half hour I converted a test document to make sure the links would all work. They didn’t. I then used the Mac’s native .pdf maker to convert the Word doc. That also failed.

After reading unhappy information on the web, I had an online chat with an Adobe rep who admitted that their top of the line program couldn’t keep Word’s hyperlinks when converting a document. He suggested that I create all the bookmarks in Acrobat, because Acrobat also has the ability to produce bookmarks. What nonsense.

No one creates a complicated, footnoted, hyperlinked doc in Acrobat, that’s the strength of Word. Adobe’s strength is supposed to be in creating .pdfs from other sources. For Adobe to say they can’t do a file conversion is like NASA saying they can’t track a satellite. I realized then that this problem was probably due to some squabble between Microsoft and Adobe. The disputes over the .pdf format began soon after Adobe created that file type, usually because a company didn’t want to pay Adobe royalties for using it.

I then turned to Google Docs, often my savior when it comes to converting files. I uploaded my test Word doc with its hyperlinks and then had Google convert it to .pdf. All links retained, all good. I then had Acrobat DC open the new .pdf and it recognized every internal link as well.  Saved it with Acrobat DC under a new name and that conversion also held. I’m now able to compose in Word like I want and then eventually have Acrobat put it into what is the original and most recognizable .pdf format.

What a waste of time. I hope this post gets out to the net to tell other writers that conversion is possible. I’ll try to write something more interesting in my next post. Anything would be an improvement. Would you like to read about the different qualities of sand?

Update: Newest version below:


Newest version always here, including a Kindle version:

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Uncategorized Writing tips

Word and .pdf Files

I’m on a Mac and I use the latest version of Word since I have an Office 365 subscription.  Word saves documents to .pdfs with little loss of formatting. Printed out, such a file looks almost  like the original Word document. That’s good but Word fails when its .pdfs are used online. Here’s what else I’ve discovered.

Footnotes and endnotes are disabled. If you hover over the footnote number you do not see the footnote text as you do in Word. If you click on the footnote the .pdf does not take you to the footnote.

URLs written out in full are clickable; they’ll take you to the website they belong to. This, for example, works in a Word created .pdf: But if you have a hidden link then the link is not clickable. This won’t work: Click here to go there. Again, the .pdf is printable but not entirely clickable.

A last discovery is that URLs wrapped around will break. I had a two column format in a Word document where URLs would start on one line and then continue to the line below. Wrap around. When converted to a .pdf, all those links broke.

Adobe wants $14.95 a month for their .pdf file creator service. I’m sure it can do all the things Word can’t. But I’d have to use .pdfs far more than I do to justify that cost. Let me know if you’ve discovered any workarounds to these problems.




Uncategorized Writing tips

Using Longer File Names

As I continue to add files to Dropbox (internal link), I realize their total may be in the thousands. While I should neatly organize all my documents into appropriate folders, I know that’s not going to happen. Instead, I increasingly rely on the Dropbox search mechanism.  Longer file names help.

Instead of naming a file: Background_on_Humboldt, I now try to be more specific and add key words that will help me later. My new file name may be:


Perhaps unique to Dropbox and the Mac is that words don’t need to be separated by underline marks. If I write HumboldtCounty as one word, Dropbox will seize on just the Humboldt part if I search for that name.

How long can a file name be? There’s disagreement here. But it’s probably over 200. (external link) And Windows and Mac operating systems may differ. For Windows machines, path length is important. If you have folders within folders then the path to a file gets longer and longer. That takes away from file name length.

In the case of a file named Jensen, see how the path name increases in character as folder names increase?


It’s no longer a six character file name but 34. This path consideration may not be a problem with Dropbox hosted files. You would, however, run into a problem if a particular program could not handle that file name length.

I’m also starting to date files whenever I can. This will help me organize automatically. So this file should actually be (instead of what I wrote above):






A Set of Behaviors?

I’ve been trying InDesign lately, to see if I can master it well enough to produce a sample book chapter. I can’t. I’ll stick with Word despite its shortcomings.

I knew I was in trouble when I started exploring the feature called Liquid Layout. It’s some kind of magic that reformats entire chapters or books. See how Pariah Burke (external link) tried to explain it:

“Like Gridify, introduced in CS5, Liquid Layout is a set of behaviors rather than a tool, command, panel, or function of InDesign. It’s part of the program, always there, whether your actions expose its behavior or not.”

Good grief. I can’t even explain my cat’s behavior. This advice comes from 2012, by-the-way, which is something else I wanted to mention. Updates and changes to subscription based programs like Word and InDesign are coming out so frequently that they are outpacing the web pages we rely on to help and explain. Just one example.

I was trying to make the border around a text box in Word disappear. Couldn’t do it. Turned to the net for help. Advice was to convert it to a frame. Problem is, Word no longer supports frames and all that advice on following different menu selections did nothing to help. None of the menu selections mentioned were present any longer in my current version of Word. I finally did figure out a solution but only by accident.

Now, if I can only figure out how to make a footnote work in a text box. One miracle at a time.






Getting more efficient with two screens

I work in multiple programs at the same time. I’ll have Word open, sometimes Photoshop, and always an open window for Chrome and Safari. I only realized today that I should be able to operate two screens at once. My fairly new iMac has what are called Thunderbolt ports, two of them, consequently I should be able to run two external monitors. But let’s just stick to one for now.

At my local Best Buy I found an inexpensive monitor with a bright screen and a brand name I had never heard of: AOC. (external link). But it was only $120 so I wasn’t taking much of a chance. I also bought the necessary adaptor for the monitor to work with an iMac. It’s called a DVI Mini DisplayPort Adaptor and it was around $20. When I got home I found that the box did not include the necessary DVI cable to hook everything up, so I had to go back to the store, spend another $15, and, finally, I got my system working.

Everything came together as soon as the power and monitor cable were connected. I was a little disappointed that the new monitor was brighter than my iMac. So I went into “System Preferences” and discovered that I had my main screen dialed too far down. I brought the level of my iMac up a tad and now both screens match.

It’s nice to work on the main screen with my first task, while having the second screen waits on my different e-mail accounts. In the future I will have a Word document on one screen, while I compose a blog entry on the other. Maybe I can’t write or edit faster, but I can now be more efficient.