Adding widgets to interactive PDFs

Many teachers have tons of materials that they created over the years, often created with tools like Word or Powerpoint. When their classrooms go more and more digital, teachers are often left wondering if all that work has gone to waste.

Great news: you can breathe new life into your old docs and presentations by adding interactive widgets and in this post, I’ll show you just how easy that is.

Adding widgets to PDFs created by Google Docs

I’m going to demonstrate the process using a simple document created in Google Docs. To add a widget to such a document, you’ll first need to make it available on the BookWidgets cloud servers. If you’re using the BookWidgets desktop tool for Mac or Windows, you do that by clicking the “Upload” button and copying the sharing link:

In case you’re using the BookWidgets web editor, there’s no need to upload, just hit the “Get shareable link” button and copy the sharing link from the dialog that pops up:

Armed with the sharing link, we can now insert it into our document like so:

A link can obviously be placed on text, but you can also make an image clickable by selecting it and using the same “Insert link” menu item as shown above.

Finally, export your Google Doc as a PDF:

That’s all there is to it! Try out this PDF for yourself:
Download the sample PDF

Some caveats to be aware of

  1. Not all PDF readers support hyperlinks in documents. We’ve found Adobe Acrobat to work well on different platforms, but many others work equally well. That said, you’ll probably want to try it with your favorite PDF reader app beforehand.
  2. The PDF export feature of MS Word for Mac 2011 is broken: none of the hyperlinks placed in the document will work when exporting to PDF. You can work around the issue by opening your Word document in Apple Pages or Google Docs, then export to PDF from there.
Niels Vanspauwen

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