User Guide
Nitro PDF Pro
View and Navigate PDF Files

Create Bookmarks Automatically

The Auto Build Bookmarks feature can totally automate the creation of bookmarks in your PDFs, and with very little effort greatly enhance the usability of the PDFs you publish. Use it to auto-generate bookmarks based on the font styles (headings, chapters, etc.) and the layout used in your PDFs. You can also use it to build bookmarks based on the textual and numerical content of the PDF files by using the text masking and wildcards features.

To create bookmarks automatically:

  1. On the Page Layout tab, in the Navigation group, click the arrow below Bookmark
  2. Click Auto Build Bookmarks
  3. In the Build Bookmarks dialog, click Level 1. This will open up the Select Bookmark Attributes dialog
  4. Do one or both of the following:
  5. Click OK
  6. To make more than one tier of bookmarks, click Level 2 (and so on) and then perform steps three and four again
  7. In the Build Bookmarks dialog, click Build

Tip: With Nitro Pro you can generate bookmarks automatically from your Word documents based on the heading styles they contain. See the Microsoft Office add-in settings section of the user guide for more information.

Bookmark selection attributes

Several text properties can be configured when creating bookmarks automatically. Combining the various properties will create bookmarks that only match the unique characteristics of a specific text element; for instance a chapter heading. If no text in the document matches the requirements of the defined properties, then no bookmarks will be created.

  • Font Name: Creates bookmarks from the selected font. Clicking Refresh will update the font menu listing to include all the fonts contained in the document. Embedded fonts are not included
  • Font Size: Creates bookmarks from text that conforms to the specified font size
  • Font Color: Creates bookmarks from text that matches the selected text’s color.
  • Left Indentation: Creates bookmarks from text with its line indent starting at the specified distance from the left-hand side of the page. An example of line indentation is bullet headings-selecting these bullet headings with the Left Indentation and Font Name properties enabled would produce bookmarks from the bullet headings: Font Name, Font Size, Font Color, Left Indentation and Text Mask (if the Font Name property wasn’t enabled, all text with the same indentation as the bullets would be turned into a bookmark)
  • Text Mask: Creates bookmarks from text that matches the characters entered into the Text Mask textbox. Text masking is handy when there are no defining bookmark properties, or if you need to selectively filter out certain text that may otherwise become a bookmark. See the section on text masking for more information on using these special characters.
  • Keyword list: This feature allows you to include and exclude particular bookmarks based on its text label. The keyword list file is simply a text file with a list of words. If you choose to include with a keyword list, then the only bookmarks generated will be ones that include any of the keywords in your list. If you choose to exclude with a keyword list, then no bookmarks will be created that contain any of the words in your keywords list
  • Ignore repeated headings: Creates a bookmark for only the first occurrence of a repeated bookmark name.
  • Multi-lined headings: Creates bookmarks from text spanning more than one line
  • Leading numbers: This feature allows you to add or remove leading numbers to bookmarks. For example, if your headings and chapters are prefixed with a numbering system. These leading numbers can be excluded from the bookmark labels that are generated automatically
  • Text masking: Includes or excludes content as bookmarks based on the wildcards you specify. Instead of searching a PDF file for the attributes (font name, size and color) and layout (indentation) the Text Mask feature allows you to search the text content of the files to include and exclude text from being made into a bookmark. Text masking is particularly useful when there are few defining bookmark properties-when the PDF file has not been structured well or consistently-or when you want to filter out bookmarks based on their text-based content

Using Text Masks


The . matches one instance of any character.

Example: Entering the expressing “P.F” into the Text Mask field would create a bookmark from any line of text that contained “PDF, PeF, PdF” etc.


The ^ only creates a bookmark if the specified text appears at the very start of the line.

Example: Entering the text “^abc” will only create a bookmark if the line started with “abc”. If a line of text started with “1.0 abc” no bookmark would be created


The $ only creates a bookmark if the specified text appears at the very end of the line. If you only want to create bookmarks from lines that only contain the exact text you specify, use both the ^ and $ characters.

Example: Entering the text “abc$” will create a bookmark only from text with lines ending with “abc”. Therefore “…xyzabc” would generate a bookmark from that line, but “abcxyz” would not

[ ]

Any lines containing characters inside the [ ] will generate a bookmark. Characters can be specified literally, or as a range of characters.

Example: [abc] will create bookmarks from any lines containing either a, b, or c. This is opposed to only creating a bookmark from text containing abc if abc is entered. [a-dA-D] will create bookmarks from lines containing any of the characters between a-d (that is, a, b, c and d), in both lower- and upper-case


Any text containing characters inside the [ ] and after the ^ will not be turned into bookmarks. This feature is very handy when applied with in conjunction with other bookmark selection properties to stop unwanted bookmarks from being created. Please note that conversely this means that any other text not in the [ ] will be considered as potential bookmark material. Therefore you should consider using another bookmark selection in conjunction with this one. If you really want to exclude numbers like 1.0 you would need to modify it to [^0-9\.]. The` is explained below, and is needed because . is a considered special character in text masking.

Example: Entering [^0-9] will still create bookmarks containing numbers if the text line contains any other character – 1.0 will be turned into a bookmark because it contains a ..

The \ character is used when you wish to actually match a special character, such as . Or $. These special characters are used in the Text Mask field to perform special text matching.

Example: Entering \$ will search and create a bookmark from text on the document containing a $, ignoring the normal $ text mask command


Use the * character to create bookmarks from more than one set of characters at the same time.

Example: Entering a*b will create bookmarks from any line of text containing either a and/or b


Use the + character to create bookmarks from a set of characters arrayed in a certain order. Bookmarks can be created from the first character(s) before the +, however, characters after the + can only be bookmarked if the characters before the + are also present.

Example: Entering a+b will create bookmarks from any line of text containing ab, aab, aaab¸ etc. Any text like ba, or cb, will be ignored


Like the + character, the ? character creates bookmarks from a set of characters arrayed in a certain order, but in this case, bookmarks can be created from characters before the ? only if the proceeding characters are also present. The characters after the ? can be used to create bookmarks, irrespective of whether characters before the ? are present.

Example: Entering a?b will create bookmarks from any line of text containing ab, abb, or just b

( )

Allows characters to be grouped together and be combined with other special characters.

Example: (a*b)$ will create bookmarks from lines of text containing either a and/or b, but only if these lines end with a or b


Creates bookmarks from either one set of characters or another.

Example: Entering a | b into the Text Mask field will create bookmarks from lines of text containing either a or b

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