How to Use PDFs on Your Website

| Web Design

PDF websitePDFs are a real problem for website builders.

The PDF format was first launched over 20 years ago, and it was designed to be a fixed-layout flat document.

When the PDF format was designed, there were about a dozen websites in the whole world. Needless to say, the PDF format was created without considering the needs of websites at all.

However, PDFs are still used offline by organizations who create millions of PDF files every year. The trouble comes when those organizations want to place PDF.

In this tutorial we'll suggest some ways that you can make PDFs work on your website, if you really need to.

Option #1. Take the content out of your PDF

If there's any way that you can take your content out of the PDF, please do.

You'll make life easier for yourself and your visitors.

Getting text out of a PDF isn't easy, so the best solution is to get the text and images from the original document before the PDF was created.

If that's not possible, there are some apps and tools available. For example:

Option #2. Use a link

This is the easiest solution. You'll provide a link so that people can click and download the PDF to read on their computer.

  • Upload the PDF to your site.
  • Create a link to the PDF.

Option #3. Embed code

The easiest way to deal with PDFs online is the same as the easiest way to deal with videos and presentations ... use an external service. is one of the best options to host your PDFs.

  • Create an account at
  • Click the Upload button and submit your PDF file:
  • Wait for Slideshare to process your PDF.
  • When Slideshare has finished, you'll see the PDF on the page. Click the Embed button:
  • Copy the embed code that Slideshare provides:
  • Click the Customize button and you'll be able to customize the embed.

To actually use that embed code into your site, copy-and-paste that embed code into your content.

If you're using WordPress, Joomla, Drupal or another CMS, you should probably make disable your WYSIWYG editor or make sure it's not stripping out code. Slideshare uses an iframe format, but those can sometimes contain dangerous code, so some CMSs will restrict their use.

You can find out more on using code in your content here:

There are also some plugins available, although not all of them are up-to-date:

When the embed code is in your article, it will appear as in the image below. Viewers can browse the PDF file in two ways:

  1. Flip through the PDF pages using tools at the bottom.
  2. Scroll through the PDF using the scrollbar on the right.

There many alternatives to Slideshare. Here are some of the best:

#4. A PDF Repository

The most complex option is the best choice if you have a large amour of PDFs.

WordPress, Joomla, Drupal and other platforms allow you to upload and store a large number of documents. Here are some recommendations:

  • WordPress: WordPress Download Manager
  • Joomla: Phoca Download or Docman
  • Drupal: you can use the default file field.

It's also worth mentioning Alfresco which is the best open source solution for massive document repositories.

About the author

Steve is the founder of OSTraining. Originally from the UK, he now lives in Sarasota in the USA. Steve's work straddles the line between teaching and web development.