Interactive PDFs with Adobe InDesign: No-Code Digital

You can dive into digital publishing or mock up a UX design by creating a PDF that includes interactive elements.
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Instructed by Joseph Caserto Design / Design Tools
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  • Lectures 17
  • Length 1.5 hours
  • Skill Level Intermediate Level
  • Languages English
  • Includes Lifetime access
    30 day money back guarantee!
    Available on iOS and Android
    Certificate of Completion
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About This Course

Published 8/2013 English

Course Description

InDesign is the industry standard for print publishing, but did you know that you can use it for digital materials, too? Exporting to Interactive PDF format is one of the easiest ways to get working in the digital world. Explore the foundations of common interactive elements, like buttons and hyperlinks, and see how to add video content.

Interactive PDFs with Adobe InDesign is made up of several lessons from my larger course, Create Your Own iPad & Android Publications, which covers other topics, including design principles, Adobe DPS, and eBooks. Interactive PDFs with Adobe InDesign is for you if you know InDesign, and just want to get started exploring digital interactive materials.

Download templates and lesson files if you want to follow along and re-create the examples shown in the video lectures. There's also an exercise that you can do to practice your skills once you've completed the course, or work on as you watch the lectures, instead of recreating the exact examples shown.

Need to boost your InDesign skills? Check out my course, Intro to Adobe InDesign.

What are the requirements?

  • Students need to know the essentials of Adobe InDesign.
  • Adobe InDesign. Free trial at
  • Adobe Reader. Free download at

What am I going to get from this course?

  • Set up buttons. Create and edit appearances for each state, specify events, and add actions.
  • Create hyperlinks that take users to web URLs.
  • Add video content, specify how it will appear when not playing, and add controls for the user.
  • Add bookmarks that can be integrated into a button's action, to specify which pages users can access.
  • Manage, test, and preview changes to design and interactive elements.
  • Use InDesign to easily simulate a mobile environment on a desktop or laptop, for presentation and assessment purposes.

Who is the target audience?

  • Students with a strong grasp of InDesign fundamentals, who want to start exploring digital publishing.
  • Digital and UX Designers who know InDesign, and want a solution to present ideas to teams and clients during the design process.
  • Print designers who want to start building digital skills and increase their marketability.

What you get with this course?

Not for you? No problem.
30 day money back guarantee.

Forever yours.
Lifetime access.

Learn on the go.
Desktop, iOS and Android.

Get rewarded.
Certificate of completion.


Section 1: Introduction

Meet the Instructor, Course description, Mac to PC keyboard translations.

Section 2: Buttons and Bookmarks

Using InDesign's Interactivity features to set up a button's appearance. (Demo shown in CS5.5)

NOTE: If you'd like to work along with the videos, please go to Section 8 and download the resources. There, you'll find the template shown.


Working with Events and Actions; previewing a button, converting a button back to an object. (Demo shown in CS5.5)


Techniques from Lectures 2 and 3, shown in InDesign CS6. (Applicable to CC as well)


Using a bookmark as a button's action to allow users to navigate to specific pages in an interactive pdf. Exporting an InDesign file as an Interactive PDF.

Section 3: Making Changes

A workflow for making and previewing changes to an interactive pdf.

Section 4: Linking to the Web and Adding Video

Setting up links to web URLs; placing a video file and managing it with the Media Panel. (Demo shown in CS5.5)


Techniques from Lecture 7, shown in InDesign CS6. (Applicable to CC as well)


Using hyperlinks gets simpler in InDesign CC.

Section 5: Simulating Mobile Devices on a Desktop and Laptop

Making a pdf look like it's on a tablet, exporting work to be veiwed on a tablet.

Section 6: Closing

A brief review of topics covered.

Section 7: Exercise: Counting Book
1 page

In this exercise, you'll create a simple interactive document for a child’s counting book. It will contain a home page and three following pages, which will give the user a slideshow experience, and also have a hyperlink to a website.

Section 8: Resources
Template for Lectures and Exercise
Bonus Section: InDesign and PDF Files Shown in Lectures
Section 9: Bonus Content: Creating a Website

Limitations of a pdf website compared to a coded one. Shown in InDesign Creative Cloud. Students using earlier versions can see the latest version, which has a new interface. See Supplementary Material for links to sites mentioned.


See an InDesign file that has been set up for exporting to Interactive PDF format. Lecture is shown in InDesign Creative Cloud. All techniques shown apply to earlier versions.


Limitations of Interactive PDF format when viewed on iPad and other devices running mobile operating systems, like iOS and Android. Lecture is shown in InDesign Creative Cloud. All techniques shown apply to earlier versions. See Supplementary Materials for links.

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Instructor Biography

Joseph Caserto, Design Professional :: Educator :: Consultant

I'm Joseph Caserto, a design professional, educator, and consultant. I have over 20 years of experience as a publication art director and designer, and worked on the staffs of several national magazines before starting my own business. Since then, I've worked with many publications, including BusinessWeek, Marie Claire, PC, TV Guide, and Vibe. My projects have included helping to produce several issues of the iPad edition of Fortune, and consulting on the launch of Parents for iOS (Apple iPad) and Android (Samsung Galaxy).

I'm also an Adjunct Assistant Professor of Digital Communications and Media, at New York University, School of Professional Studies, Center for Advanced Digital Applications, Department of Design Digital Arts and Film. Formerly, I was an Adjunct Lecturer at the City College of New York, in the Art Department's Electronic Design and Multimedia Program. I have several online tutorials published, and have been a guest critic and speaker at Cooper Union, and SUNY Fredonia.

I've consulted with clients including FP Design, The Archdiocese of New York, and The Uniformed Firefighters Association of Greater New York to help them learn and maximize the potential of their software, and to explore graphic design principals.

I earned a BFA, with Honors, in Graphic Design from Pratt Institute, where I completed one of the first classes that explored graphic design produced with a Macintosh. I'm a member of AIGA, Freelancers Union, the Graphic Artists Guild, and The Society of Publication Designers. A lifetime resident of New York State, I've lived in Brooklyn since the late 1980s.

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