How to add electronic bookmarks to a PDF

How to add electronic bookmarks

If you’re eFiling documents at court, whether in California, Texas, or elsewhere, it’s best practice to add electronic bookmarks so that the document is as easy to navigate as possible on a computer screen.

In fact, if you’re filing in a California court, then beginning January 1, 2017, it will be required by state rule to add electronic bookmarks to the exhibits appended to your filings.

But what are electronic bookmarks and how do you add them to a document?

What is an electronic bookmark?

Electronic bookmarks work in much the same way as the little plastic or paper bookmarking tabs you add to printed filings. They are simply shortcuts to specific sections of a document which, when clicked, will take the reader directly to that section.

Once added to a document, bookmarks appear in a navigation panel (typically on the left-hand side of the screen). In most eFiling courts, it’s required that the appended exhibits be bookmarked in this way so that readers can quickly and easily move between each one, without the need to scroll through the entire document.

How to add bookmarks using Microsoft Word

If your document is relatively simple and prepared entirely in Word, then adding bookmarks at this drafting stage is quick and simple. Here’s what to do:

Step one

Open your document in Word and navigate to the section or heading you wish to bookmark. Select the title you wish to bookmark and then click on the Insert tab in the ribbon, followed by selecting Bookmark.


Step two

The Bookmark dialog box will open. Type the name of your bookmark and then click Add. Repeat this process until all required sections have been bookmarked.


Step three

Finally, save your document as a PDF. To do this, click on Save As in the File menu. Select PDF in the drop down menu. Before saving, open the Options… menu at the bottom of the Save As dialog box.


Make sure that that the option to Create bookmarks using: is selected and that it is set to use Word bookmarks. Click OK and then Save.


How to add bookmarks using Adobe Acrobat

If you have access to the professional version of Adobe Acrobat (i.e. the paid for version), then adding bookmarks once you’ve created your PDF is very simple. If you’re combining multiple documents into a single PDF or adding in scanned exhibits, this may be simpler than adding bookmarks in Word.

To create a bookmark in Acrobat, follow these steps:

Step one

Open your PDF document in Adobe Acrobat. Now scroll to the first section that you wish to bookmark. Select the heading or title of the section by dragging your mouse over it and, once selected, press CTRL+B on your keyboard. The Bookmarks panel will open on the left.


Step two

In the bookmarks panel, type the name of the exhibit and a short description. Now, simply repeat this process until you’ve bookmarked all of the exhibits in your filing.

Alternatives to Acrobat

While Acrobat is widely regarded as the market leader in PDF editing software (other paid-for tools are available, however: Check out our buyer’s guide), it is quite expensive at $14.99 per user per month. Therefore, if you’re filing infrequently or only making simple changes to PDFs, you may wish to consider an alternative.

Some free online tools

  • Open Source software — There are a few Open Source (that’s to say, freely available) PDF editing tools available. One of the most popular, Libre Office Draw, has similar functionality to Acrobat. There’s a discussion of alternatives over on
  • Bookmarking only tools — There are a handful of tools, like JPDFBookmarks, available that allow bookmarks to be added to existing PDFs but have no other features.

Happy bookmarking!

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