Building Bookmarks

A bookmark is a hyperlink pointing to another area within the same web page or document. They can be very helpful to the reader when used to create a simple table of contents for a long web page or to link to content within a book or paper. For family history projects that will be distributed in an electronic format like PDF, bookmarks can be especially useful.

Creating a bookmark is a two-step process. First, you select the text for the bookmark and identify it as as bookmark with a unique name. Then, you select the text that points to the bookmark and create a hyperlink to the bookmark. So, if you have a family tree graphic in your document, you can select the title of that graphic and create a bookmark named “Family Tree”. Now, if you want to reference that family tree anywhere within the narrative of your document, you create a hyperlink pointing to the Family Tree bookmark. When a reader follows that link, it moves the cursor right to the point of the bookmark.

Bookmarks in Documents

Creating bookmarks within documents is easy. This example uses Apple’s Pages word processing application, but the process is similar in whatever word processor you use. In Pages, you can only bookmark text. You cannot bookmark images, charts, text boxes or other objects. In the example below, my heading is a text box so I cannot use it to create my bookmark. Instead, I’ve selected some of the text immediately after the text box.

From the Insert menu, select Bookmark. That’s it! Your bookmark is created.

pages bookmark 02

Now, make sure your Inspector pane is open then select the text that will be hyperlinked to the bookmark and choose the Insert > Hyperlink > Bookmark command.

pages bookmark 03

In the Inspector it shows you are linking to a bookmark. Below that is a drop-down box where you choose the Name of the bookmark you want to link to. In this example, you see a large number of bookmarks. Why? When you use the automatic Table of Contents generation feature, Pages (and many other word processors)  also create bookmarks to each of the headings used in the contents. This means the table of contents has links directly to the chapter or section the reader wants to view.

Now that I’ve shown you how easy it is to create and link to bookmarks, let me sweeten the pot a bit more. When you export your document to PDF format, both your hyperlinks and bookmarks are also exported. This means both the table of contents and any links you included within the narrative.

Bookmarks in HTML

Most blog platforms don’t include a facility to create bookmarks within the blog editor, so we’ll just create a hyperlink and modify it into a bookmark. Start by selecting the text that will be the bookmark, then click on the Link item. In this example, I’m bookmarking the Abbreviations heading at the bottom of the text.

bookmarks step 1

Notice that instead of entering a web URL, I’ve just entered the name I want to give this bookmark – in this case Abbreviations. Once that’s done, click OK.

bookmarks step 2

Now click on the Edit HTML tab to take a look at the HTML code for this link. In this example you see the hyperlink that was just created and below it is the changes you need to make so it will become a bookmark. First, change “href” to “name” then delete the “http://” and the slash at the end. That’s it!

bookmarks step 3

When you return to the normal view, you’ll see that the original hyperlink has identified as a link (underlined and blue text) but the bookmark is not. There isn’t any visible sign that text has been set up as a bookmark. You will need to remember the name you gave your bookmark in order to create a link pointing to it.

bookmarks step 4

Notice here that instead of a complete web URL, I’ve only entered the name of the bookmark preceded by a hash mark (#). This tells your browser that the link is going to somewhere on the same page rather than to another web site. You will want to check the link in the HTML view to make sure no other code has been included in the link.

When the post is published, click on the hyperlink and you will be taken down the page to the bookmark. In this example, both the link and the bookmark appear in the same screen view so following the link to the bookmark won’t change the view. To see it work, you’ll need the bookmark far enough down in your text to make the screen scroll down to display it.

Once you’re comfortable creating and linking to bookmarks, you’ll find any number of uses for them. They make larger projects so much easier for readers to navigate and give a professional edge to your work.

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