Creating Interactive PDFs: Examples and How to Make

Guide & Useful Examples on How To Make a PDF Interactive

In a professional atmosphere, PDF documents are a way of life. PDFs paved the way for a seminal distribution of digital information and became necessary for businesses of all types to use.

However, in a world that continues to evolve into online transactions, PDFs have become clunky, out of date, and old-fashioned. They are hard to handle on a smartphone and there is no concise way to scroll through all the information in a quick manner.

For 2023’s interactions, something more immersive and engaging is the order. Visual information wins out over the written word. Standard PDFs do provide a small level of interactivity, but lack the flexibility of a format that can handle multimedia elements.

Magazines, catalogs, and high end portfolios need a well-designed concept. Using an interactive PDF takes that design to the next level. How do you provide engagement and interactivity? The answer is by making an interactive PDF, also known as a digital flipbook.

Digital flipbooks enable you to showcase your products in a beautiful, flipping book format that reads just like a glossy catalog or magazine – on your smartphone. These interactive documents even offer your consumers the option to add to cart and check out – within the online catalog itself. If you want to learn more about creating interactive PDFs, keep reading!

Why Creating Interactive PDFs?

An interactive PDF is a PDF file that contains interactive elements such as rich media (videos, links, audio clips, GIF animations). Standard PDF files contain text or images and sometimes incorporate hyperlinks, but that’s the extent of the interactive elements.

Interactive PDFs offer a variety of features that provide readers with an engaging experience. Making an interactive PDF will take your content to the next level. Interactivity pleases your readers and benefits your business.

Use the features to your advantage. Provide a welcome video to your customers, offer a walkthrough or behind the scenes clip of your production, offer extra information on product details, or utilize an order form so users can add items to a shopping list. The possibilities are endless.

Ideas & Examples of Interactive PDFs

Let’s take a quick look at some examples of interactive PDFs.

1. Videos

One way to create interactivity within your PDF is to add video clips. Video clips provide an excellent source of visual and audio information. They immerse readers into the experience of using digital catalogs and help keep attention on the content. 

It isn’t surprising that this medium is so popular. Videos are used everywhere, from reels on social media to education and advertising. They are a form of entertainment, but viewers also retain more information from a video than they do a written message. 

Here are a few types of videos you can incorporate within your digital content:

  1. Informational: The pdf interactive example below uses informational videos to display information about its products. Informational videos are short and informative, but they illuminate complex thoughts in an easy to understand format;
  2. Welcome videos, or other social video clips: Sharing a welcome video or behind the scenes content (BTS), is a great way to connect with your audience. These types of walkthrough videos allow the viewers to participate in your company with you, which bolsters your brand identity, builds trust, and creates a credible feeling of camaraderie;
  3. Marketing and Advertising videos: Create video ads for marketing purposes. Explain your product or service, and what sets it apart from competitors, in a short but sweet video. Make it engaging and fun while packing a powerful marketing punch that doesn’t annoy your audience. People enjoy a good video message and they will absorb the meaning you are passing to them.

2. Gif Images

Another way to provide readers with interactivity is to use a GIF image. GIF (short for Graphic Integrated Format) images display graphics and logos and support basic animation. They are a useful, quick file format that helps to provide animated content.

GIFs are also more popular now, than ever before, thanks to their rise on the internet as a way to share jokes and memes. Think of GIFs as mini-flipbooks, which makes sharing the digital flipbook via a GIF flipping image a bit of perfect poetry.

3. Page Flip Effect

As you can see from the images above, the PDF interactive examples also include the page flip effect. This effect lends itself to a real look and feel of a magazine or catalog, with which consumers are familiar. When shoppers look at a digital magazine or catalog, they can engage with it by flipping the pages, just as they would when interacting with printed material.

4. Pop Up Videos and Images

Pop up images and videos are a fantastic way to add information about your company’s products and services without cluttering the page. Pop up images, or videos, are clickable content that grow large once a user clicks on them.

Unlike having a video or image embedded on the digital catalog page, these types of pop ups help to promote products by providing a closer look, cleaner view, or adding additional descriptions that may be lost on the page.

5. Lead Capture Forms

Lead capture forms provide you with information about your customers, which then feeds into your marketing, advertising outreach. Design a custom lead capture form to generate leads and retrieve contact information.

The form itself is simple to create and add within your digital flipbook. A good way of utilizing it is to have it pop up a few pages into your digital catalog. Your viewers will get a small taste of what you offer and they will be more interested in becoming part of the marketing cycle.

By creating this simple embedded lead capture form within your interactive document, you can rest assured that you know what content your readers most appreciate.  On the marketing and advertising side to your business, you can continue to push the content that your audience wants to access. You will not be sending marketing campaigns into the void; instead, you will create and send relevant content that keeps your readers coming back.

How Do You Make a PDF Interactive?

There are two ways of creating interactive PDFs.

The first way, that most people will be familiar with, is to use Adobe InDesign. Adobe will allow you to add a splash of interactive elements to the PDF format. You can add external links to websites, or internal links to pages within the PDF itself.

Even if you are not a graphic designer, the basic act of adding links within your PDF file is easy enough to accomplish. However, a graphic designer with excellent design skills is recommended to create a PDF interactive example that is high-quality and stylized. Interactive documents translate well to digital flipbooks.

Doing it all yourself is a time-consuming process. However, there is an easier way to create a PDF flipbook.

Another way of creating interactive PDFs is to use DCatalog’s admin platform. Once you put your PDF together, DCatalog has all the tools and features you need to make interactive content. 

A plus to creating interactive PDFs with DCatalog is that you do not need to be a graphic designer because the admin platform is very intuitive and easy to understand.

Creating Interactive PDFs with DCatalog

Here is how you can turn your interactive PDF into a digital flipbook with DCatalog:

  1. Upload your PDF into DCatalog’s admin platform: It couldn’t be easier:  DCatalog offers an upload button for your PDF file, or you can drag and drop it. It takes just a couple minutes, and your file is ready. All the links you added in your PDF within Adobe InDesign will transfer to your digital catalog, so you save yourself even more time and effort!
  2. Utilize the tools and features within the admin portal to add interactivity: DCatalog offers many tools to help you in creating interactive PDFs. Use the edition tools section to add a table of contents or tabs on the side of the digital catalog. Decide which social media tools you want to include for easy sharing. Open up the Multimedia Manager and add video clips, audio clips, gif animations, image pop ups, and links. With DCatalog’s Enterprise subscription, you have the ability to integrate the digital catalog to your shopping platform, making the interactive PDF itself a tool for users to access products, and check out from the catalog.
  3. Create a cohesive brand image with customization: When you finish adding the interactive tools and features, customize the look and feel of your digital catalog by adding your logo and branding colors. Create a cohesive brand image by tying your digital catalog to your business site.
  4. Share your interactive documents: Now it’s time to toggle on your interactive PDF, and complete its transition to a digital catalog. You can choose from different privacy options, such as password protection.Share the digital catalog easily through email, or by embedding it on your website, or through social media. You can also share it as a link or a GIF animation.

Reasons to Make Your PDF Interactive

Even after learning about examples of interactive PDFs and seeing how dynamic and engaging they are, you may still need some practical reasons to consider making an interactive PDF. 

Here are a few more reasons why this is beneficial to you:

1. It Provides a Dynamic Experience for Your Users

Nowadays, modern audiences expect a lot more interactivity from the content they consume. PDFs are clunky and out of date. They do not work well on a smart phone or tablet, which is how most people communicate, shop, and explore the internet. While PDFs are an integral part of the day to day in business transactions, the average person who is shopping online does not want to waste time downloading PDFs. They prefer interactive content that is easy to access. Lure them in with a dynamic experience that allows the buyer to take control of their shopping encounter. Your flipbook, brochure, or catalog must match the quality of content that buyers interact with online. It should catch the attention of the audience, be fun and informative, as well as interactive and useful.  If you are a marketer, it is without a doubt that you have noticed this trend. You are focused on examples of interactive PDFs that exude this high-quality and engaging content.

2. It Let’s You Track All Actions

When you use a digital publishing platform like DCatalog, all of the interactions your customers have with your content is trackable, thanks to analytics. Analytics data and reporting allows you to gain meaningful marketing insights. Once you share your digital flipbook with your audience, you can track their interactions with your content. Analytics provides you with in-depth insights into how your content is consumed. Analyze data such as the number of people who look at your interactive documents, what links your audience clicks most often, how long they stay on each page, the keywords they searched, and much more. This breakdown of data provides keen insight and understanding into where your customers’ interests lie. This knowledge enables you to drill down and increase your marketing efforts. Offer a personalized experience for your users and keep them engaged. DCatalog offers an integration with G4 Analytics, or via our own analytics platform.

3. It Drives Real Marketing Results

Printed content just doesn’t pack the same power as immersive digital content. Datalog enables you to create powerful online catalogs, brochures, manuals, guides, and lookbooks to increase brand awareness and engagement. In turn, this process promotes transactions and increases sales.  If you have an eCommerce system, DCatalog’s platform will auto-link SKUs to your product ordering landing pages. If you do not have one, you can utilize our B2B Order Form Technology. This technology builds a system through which customers are able to assemble and submit their orders. Design a robust digital publishing plan that will drive results. Offer your sales reps, distributors, and buyers a seamless experience that is easy to maneuver, search, and purchase through— all while combating rising print costs.

4. It Saves Time and Money

Moving your static PDFs to immersive digital flipbooks helps offset print budgets by 20%-50%. Within your marketing collateral, increase ROI through call-to-actions, showcase your content to an unlimited audience, and boost ease of use for your customers. On top of saving money on print costs, stay up to date with any changes you need to make. The moment you send your content to print, it’s already outdated. With DCatalog’s platform, you can update your content in real time. Add, remove, and replace pages in seconds. Within your digital catalog from your interactive Automate SKU number linking to pop up windows from your website. Show additional product details and create calls to actions. Give consumers an easy way to navigate to your products. This solution helps generate more traffic and provides a better user experience. Automation the linking process saves you and your team hours in time and manual labor. It will further help you cut costs by reducing the number of team members you need to check every step of the process.

How Can You Use a Ready-Made Interactive PDF?

How can you use a ready-made and interactive PDF? There are many ways. We’ll just go over a few.

1.  Incorporate Virtual Tours in Your Travel Brochures

Let’s say you work for a travel agency and you need to sell a vacation package. In your typical sales presentation, you send out an online PDF to your clients. It features some text descriptions about the vacation package and a few pictures of the luxury resort and activities. It may also contain an external link to your travel agency, but that’s the extent of it. For standard PDFs, that’s pretty good, right?

This is where an interactive PDF comes into play for a travel agency. Text and images are helpful to convey the idea of the vacation, but think about the experience of viewing a video clip of the fantastic activities, or the beauty of the resort. Include additional information about the resort, its history, fun things to do in the area, or whatever kind of travel knowledge clients would want to know.

You can include a virtual tour of the resort within the interactive PDF. How cool is that! Put yourself in the customer’s shoes and imagine how he or she would feel getting to tour the lobby, the amenities rooms, or a sample hotel suite. This would let the customer get a clear idea of where they might stay and get excited about the upcoming vacation.

2. Promote your E-commerce Business

Another scenario to consider when making an inter: you own an e-commerce business and you want to further promote your products. You want to lure your customers to your catalog and curate their interests with a specified shopping list. 

Using a static PDF, you will encounter a less than stellar experience. There are a lot of time-consuming steps to take where the customer searches for the product he or she desires, then adds it to the cart, then sends it to you. 

Today’s modern consumer wants things to happen in a quick manner that is efficient. Using an interactive digital catalog, simplify the shopping process by incorporating an add to cart feature in the catalog itself. Use buttons that customers can click, such as a plus sign in a circle, that customers can press to add their items to the cart. Customize a product shopping window and populate it with the relevant product information.

Add the prices, quantities, images and other information about the products.  By creating a shoppable catalog, you enable your customers to keep their attention in the catalog the whole time they are browsing. You can set up a check out option, or quote or order form option. These steps create a simple process for your customers to get what they need and for you to generate more sales.

3. Make a Sleek Impression within Your Interactive Documents

No matter what you publish, whether it’s lookbooks, magazines, guides, brochures, catalogs or internal communications documents, your content will stand out when you turn them into immersive digital experiences.

If you are a business owner, marketer, or advertiser, you know how bored people get. It’s difficult to keep audiences engaged when they are presented with so many choices. Doing so during a time when most people are bombarded with options online makes it even harder. 

This is where an interactive PDF proves very useful. Instead of an outdated, clunky, static PDF, digital editions offer opportunities for engagement and interactivity. Don’t count on an old relic to convey your message, make it interactive! You can add audio clips or video elements to your content. For example, if you are creating a travel brochure, instead of just presenting a picture of the beach and ocean, include an audio clip of the sound of the waves hitting the shore, seagulls calling to each other in the big blue sky. Present the calmness that a picture just can’t.

The content within the PDF may be amazing, but it’s the delivery that makes a sleek and positive impression. There is no better time than the present to begin adapting to the modern shopper. Take advantage of all that technology has to offer. Creating interactive PDFs instead of a static, boring ones. DCatalog has all of the perfect tools and features, and can be used for a variety of purposes.

Create an enhanced user experience and utilize technology that provides simpler navigation through your digital content.

Bottom Line

Summing up, anyone can transform a static PDF document into an engaging and interactive experience for their readers. Some key tips include using design software like DCatalog, adding hyperlinks, creating interactive forms, and embedding multimedia elements like videos and audio. Interactive PDFs can be used for a variety of purposes, from digital brochures and portfolios to educational materials and interactive manuals. Some examples of interactive PDFs include clickable infographics, interactive quizzes, and digital magazines. With the right tools and a little creativity, anyone can create a dynamic and engaging interactive PDF that will captivate their audience.


What can be in an interactive PDF?

An interactive PDF can include interactive elements such as hyperlinks, buttons, forms, videos, audio, animations, and more.

What is the difference between a PDF and an interactive PDF?

A regular PDF is a static document that cannot be interacted with, while an interactive PDF includes interactive elements that allow users to engage with the content.

What is the best example of interactive PDFs?

The best example of interactive PDFs depends on the specific purpose or industry, but some common examples include interactive product catalogs, magazines, brochures, and forms.

How do I make a clickable PDF?

To make a clickable PDF, you can add hyperlinks to text or images using online platfroms services such as DCatalog.

Can I turn a PDF into an interactive form?

Yes, you can turn a regular PDF into an interactive form by adding form fields using online platfroms services such as DCatalog.

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