How to Make Your Boring PDF Interactive

By Chloe LaursenJune 21, 2022Content Marketing, Tips

Photo of a tablet showing an interactive school flyer pdf.

Have you ever needed to find a single piece of information in a seemingly mile-long document? Initially, you’re overwhelmed and slightly irritated at the amount of hunting you’ll have to do for one fact, but then comes your saving grace: a clickable table of contents. In one press of a button, you are magically brought to the precise section you need and your research time has exponentially shrunk. This much-appreciated feature is just one of the aspects an interactive PDF offers. 

With videos, audio, clickable links, and realistic page-turning effects, technology exists to make your boring PDF interactive. And with content at the core of every business, delivering an interactive reading experience benefits both consumers and producers, adding an unparalleled level of ease and efficiency while keeping an audience more engaged. 

Do yourself and your customers a favor. It’s time for you to up your document game and switch to interactive PDFs. Here, we’ll show you the ropes, with everything from how to make an interactive PDF to why it should be your new best friend.

Breaking it Down: What is an Interactive PDF?

With a page-flipping element, an interactive PDF fosters engagement from front to back. Instead of mindlessly scrolling, adding an element of interactivity keeps viewers actively engaged with captivating effects that bring back the fun of reading print—without the hassle or negative impact of paper. Interactive PDFs infuse a personal touch and allow for more control and customization than ever before. You no longer have to decide between text and videos, as this format allows for documents to have videos embedded within, taking full advantage of the perks different media forms have to offer.

With the ability to add links, you can make your content shoppable, connect a document to your other work, and truly transform your PDF into a branded content hub. Adding a GIF can intersperse fun and visual engagement throughout, too, effectively keeping readers on your document and out of the sea of digital content that your work can get lost in. Interactive PDFs bring your pages to life with audio, videos, GIFs, hyperlinks, shopping carts, and more. And, best of all, it’s easy to do!

Learn How to Make an Interactive PDF

Making an interactive PDF may seem daunting at first, but it’s actually so simple that even those who classify themselves as a “digital dinosaur” can do it. Start by creating your PDF and uploading it to Issuu. If you’re looking for even more simplicity, you can use our InDesign or Canva plug-ins to streamline the creation to publication process. 

Once we have your document, we’ll instantly convert it into a flipbook with interactive page-turning effects for you. Lastly, click the “add links and videos” button on the left-hand side of the screen to effortlessly embed all of the videos, hyperlinks, shoppable buttons, GIFs, or any visual elements that you desire. Here’s a demo showing how to make an interactive PDF in under 20 seconds.

The Big Question: Why Should PDFs be Interactive?

Now you can see how easy it is to make your PDF interactive, but you may still be wondering why you should make the switch to add interactivity. Instead of throwing out a bunch of words to convince you, we’re going to let a few interactive PDFs speak for themselves. Here are examples of how organizations in different industries are using interactive content to their advantage—and how you can, too.

Real Estate

While nothing can fully replace the awe of walking through an in-person showing before choosing a new home, virtual tours offer an exciting alternative. Whether potential buyers live far away or simply haven’t had the chance to make it to an open house, offering a virtual tour is a great way to mimic the experience and spark interest in a property. This capability becomes even more critical in a fast-moving, super-hot housing market like we have today. 

Embed video in PDFs to highlight home features or the area it’s located in can captivate a viewer’s attention and help to ease any potential worries. Instead of sending out boring PDFs, let your clients fall in love with the properties in your portfolio by including everything from virtual tours and videos to links where they can sign up for a tour or contact you. You do enough work already—let an interactive PDF do the rest.

Publishing & Magazines

Magazines are truly a work of art with an unmatched attention to detail and planning required behind the scenes. Chock full of interviews, photos, artwork, and stories, magazine creators somehow find a way to convey the important information in a cohesive, aesthetically pleasing way. But have you ever found yourself struggling to find a single photo that conveys all of a place’s glory? Or conducted an interview so impactful you wish the whole world was in the room or dialed into the call with you to hear it? With an interactive PDF, without even changing the design, you can embed video in PDF files to capture more than any single photo could or that allow viewers to experience the interview as if they too were there. Consider adding links that take viewers from words on a cover straight to the main story, or hyperlink the table of contents to help readers navigate with ease.

Travel & Tourism

With so many amazing places in the world, even a trip as obscure as the moon would have to compete to get booked. You need to stand out to win over potential customers, so why have a boring PDF that will get lost between all the others? With an interactive PDF, you can add videos that showcase the once in a lifetime experience you’re offering, the exquisite rooms and service at your hotel/Airbnb, or the countless things to do in your city. 

Include links directly to booking pages, streamlining the process and keeping potential buyers off of search engines where they can be purged by competitors or distracted and forget that they were about to book a trip with you. The options are limitless, and an interactive PDF is sure to make your business stand out.


Whether you're a student, teacher, school, or educational resource, an interactive PDF is the tool you never knew you were missing. As a student, make your work look even more professional and take your presentations to the next level by converting it into a sleek flipbook. Ensure your project stands out with the use of videos, or quickly cite your work using embedded links that take readers straight to your source. 

Educators, engage your students by giving them a chance to interact with the content through videos, flippable pages, and pop-up questions or surveys. Embed video in PDF to market your institution with student interviews, a campus tour, and add links to help navigate readers to your specific websites, pages, email sign ups, and more. No matter your role inside the educational realm, an interactive PDF is the way to go. 


In the service industry, you want to ensure that your customers are both satisfied and comfortable. Your food tastes great and the servers are lovely, but if you really want to step up your game and go the extra mile, you must consider every aspect of the dining experience—including the menu. Maybe your restaurant is spotlessly clean and chic, but perhaps your menus are slightly old and suffer from miscellaneous stains. Maybe you pride yourselves on frequently changing up your menu, but with this you endure the expense of printing. Maybe your diners are world travelers and the food descriptions get a little lost in translation. All of this can be solved with an interactive PDF. 

With a digital menu, you can update the design and course options as often as you please with no extra cost. You can also include captivating videos from the harvesting process to show off your top-of-the-line ingredients alongside links to help readers navigate through the array of dishes. Plus, digital menus are more sanitary and can add extra comfort to diners if, say, a pandemic hits. Here is a delightful example from a gourmet restaurant in Italy; the dessert menu has hyperlinks to help readers navigate to the section in their preferred language:

Retail, Wholesale & Catalog

Arguably, there are few things as exciting as flipping through a catalog from your favorite brand and gushing over the new season’s products—even as a college student without the funds to support my shopping dreams. Window shopping and catalog flipping never gets old, and now that fun can continue without the use of paper! Continue to give your customers the joy of flipping pages by turning your PDF into a flipbook on Issuu and simultaneously streamline the buying process by taking advantage of the power of our technology. With an interactive PDF, you can add shoppable links that take customers directly from the catalog to the product page, all without changing your beautifully designed pages. Interactive catalogs deliver a seamless experience for readers and fuller shopping carts for retailers.

Parks and Recreation

Your park and recreational activities deserve to be enjoyed. You offer an experience—so why isn’t your marketing material an experience, too? Draw in visitors with an irresistible taste of what you offer, letting the experience market itself through videos of the property, from an event, or of a raving customer. Include a virtual map of your park to get viewers excited about the trails waiting to be explored, and you could even add a hyperlink to a downloadable map so that visitors are prepared and ready to plan their visit. Streamline the registration process by linking a sign up form for your upcoming camps, hiking tours, bird watching trips, s'mores nights, and volunteer opportunities.

With Issuu, learning how to make an interactive PDF and creating an engaging reading experience has never been easier. Seamlessly add videos, links, audio, and GIFs to your existing content, and automatically create supporting assets for sharing your publications across channels. Delight your readers and simplify your content marketing all at the same time. 

What are you waiting for? Ditch the boring PDFs and elevate your content today with Issuu’s interactive PDF maker