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Web Best Practices: Linking to Files

[Get Adobe PDF Reader free here. link exits CSUDH site]

Observe the following guidelines when creating links to a PDF, Word, Excel, or other file.

Present Content as a Web Page (HTML) When Possible

Is it absolutely necessary that this file remain a PDF, Word, Excel, or Powerpoint file?

If the answer is NO - then convert the information into a web page (HTML) that is more easily accessed by everyone.

Some documents often need to stay in the exact format, font, style in which they are created. This can be done in PDF format or using a Microsoft Office product. However, please keep in mind that not every platform may have Microsoft Office or a compatible application installed, and therefore will be unable to view the document.

For those files that must remain in their original format (PDF, Word, Excel, etc.):


Provide a Link to the Reader

The following link to the Adobe PDF Reader should be placed at the top of ANY page where a PDF file is linked. Remember, not everyone has access to Microsoft Office, there is no free reader. Be prepared to provide the content in an alternate version if requested.

[Get Adobe PDF Reader free here. link exits CSUDH site]

  • The link should be directed to: http://get.adobe.com/reader/
  • For .SHTML pages, paste the following into the page code:
    <!--#include virtual="/webcomm/globalssi/get-adobe-reader.ssi" -->
  • For WCMS pages, the link must be created manually. Set the text to 10pt Font.

Provide an Alert

Indicate that the file is in a particular format (PDF, Word, etc.) by including the file extension within brackets inside the link. See the following examples:



Alert legend:

  • [PDF] - Adobe PDF files
  • [DOC], [DOCX] - Microsoft Word files
  • [XLS], [XLSX] - Microsoft Excel files
  • [PPT], [PPTX] - Microsoft Powerpoint files
  • [TXT] - Text files
  • [ZIP] - Compressed files using Zip

Provide Accessible Files

For help on creating accessible files, a wealth of information is available on the Internet. Simply do a search for "How to create accessible [file type]". Some resources are provided here:

If you need additional assistance creating accessible documents, please contact the campus Instructional Technology Center at 310-243-3480.


For further assistance with linking to files, please contact Web Communications.