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PDF icons of all varieties
2011 . June . 21
Pink Sheep Media

PDFs are a secure format for documents and are a excellent way to upload and download documents to and from your website. It’s best if the PDF is not a scanned document, since the text is generally not machine readable. PDFs with the actual text in them can be read by screen readers for the vision impaired and as well are more likely to be found in online searches since the text is more likely to be read by robots and indexed.

If you are able, try to make PDFs of the smallest possible file size, since this will make it easier and faster for your web audience to download and use the PDF. It is also good practice to change the file name of a PDF to a descriptive name with all lower case letters before uploading it. WordPress will automatically add dashes to any spaces in the title to make the file HTML compliant.

You can upload a PDF to your media gallery from a PAGE or POST editor using Upload/Insert Media or from the MEDIA/ADD NEW page. You do not need a caption but be sure to add a description. Descriptions make your site more searchable and indexable. Good titles and good descriptions also make it easier for you to reference and find the document later, in your MEDIA library.

Once you have a PDF in the MEDIA gallery you can copy the FILE URL (also known as the LINK URL). This is really the most important step. When you make a PDF available to someone on the web, you are really just making a link to the PDF so they can click on it. Some people’s browsers are set to automatically download PDFs and some people like to view them in their browser before they decide to download it.

Now you can create text and make a link. Here is an example of a link to a downloadable document about using PDFs (PDF). This PDF was made with OpenOffice from www.openoffice.org. It is good practice to signal people in the anchor text, that the link is to a downloadable PDF. This way, users know what they’re getting into.

So, to recap:

  • Make a PDF and save it to your computer (smaller is better; try this tool for compressing PDFs)
  • Upload by selecting Upload/Insert Media and browsing to the PDF on your computer
  • Make sure you add a good title and a good description
  • Copy the File URL aka Link URL
  • make a link in your post as always, but link to the PDF and be sure to put “[PDF]” in you anchor text