How can I link to specific places in a variety of documents?
March 17, 2011 10:01 AM   Subscribe

How can I create a web-based table of contents that links to specific places within a diverse collection of documents?

How can I create a web-based table of contents that links to specific places in a variety of document formats (unspecified: I assume Excel, PowerPoint, Word, and PDF)? Also, how could I search within the documents and create an index? Both the search results and the index should link to specific places within the documents.

My first thought was to convert all of the documents to PDF, create destinations within the PDFs, and link to the destinations from a web page. I'm definitely open to other ideas, though.

I'm pretty sure the documents will not be set up in a way that would be easy to automate adding bookmarks and links within PDFs; i.e., Word documents probably won't use heading styles.
posted by kirkaracha to Computers & Internet (4 answers total)
Your best bet would be to convert them all into separate html documents. In your table of contents, you can link to specific places in docs with:

<a href="../doc1#pos1">Document 1, Position 1</a>.

In the html files for your docs, you can add the destinations like this:

<a name="pos1"></a>

I'm pretty sure most of Microsoft Office products can output html. If they do, you should be able to just go through and add the positions by hand in a text editor.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 10:20 AM on March 17, 2011

Destinations within PDFs are shaky, at best. I've never been able to get them to work happily together. You're looking at twice as much trouble with Excel, PowerPoint, and Word documents, which are not well designed for interchange and public access.

The best option is to accept that you can't link inside the documents reliably and simply create PDFs from them. Converting them to HTML will be a lot of work, and tech-ignorant people always complain because the conversion to HTML doesn't look exactly like their Word document.
posted by sonic meat machine at 10:47 AM on March 17, 2011

Converting them to HTML may not be an option due to the loss of fidelity sonic meat machine points out as well as the additional production time.
posted by kirkaracha at 10:50 AM on March 17, 2011

Yeah, bummer then. I can't imagine there's any way to do this quickly without using HTML.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 11:49 AM on March 17, 2011

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