Did you know that the PDF sets you have been printing for years are WAY more powerful than you ever knew? In fact, after reading this series of posts, you might stop printing physical sets altogether. Well that might be a little extreme, but you’ll WANT to stop printing sets— and not just because you could be buying everyone iPads instead of printing mountains of paper.

In this first post, let’s cover Linked Markers in PDF sets.

ArchiCAD hyperlinksIf you create a multi-page PDF from ArchiCAD using the publisher (the 4th tab in the Navigator), the markers, whether detail markers, section markers, elevations or Back References, all function as internal hyperlinks. This means if you click on a section marker in plan, the PDF will jump to the sheet with that section. Pause for a moment, open up a PDF you created from the Publisher, and test it out. Cool huh?

If you’re not familiar with the Publisher, watch this video. For the hyperlink functionality and many other reasons you want to start using the Publisher.

Back Reference is a really cool under utilized feature in ArchiCAD. When you enable Back Reference on a placed drawing, you can show the sheet number(s) where the source marker that generated that drawing lives. The Back Reference appears in the drawing title. So if an elevation is on sheet A203, but the elevation marker shows up on A101, A102, and A103, Back Reference (if enabled) will automatically show those Back-Referencesheet numbers in the drawing title. With elevations or sections that’s nice, especially if it’s a complex project with multiple buildings or odd angles or those little elevations that only show bits and pieces of the building, and are impossible to find. BUT it’s with details, worksheets, and interior elevations that it gets really cool. Those are all usually on just one sheet. Think about doing an enlarged plan using the Detail Tool. Back Reference makes clarifying where that vignette lives in the larger project context super easy. Or think about all the interior elevations a typical project can have. Having those automatically labeled with Back Reference is great. Now each interior elevation not only can be labeled with a descriptive title, but also be labeled with a useful reference (that is a hyperlink in the PDF set) to what sheet the room is on. Again imagine a large project with the plan broken up over two or more sheets. Which sheet is First Floor Janitor Office on? Back Reference will make that simple, automatic, and obvious.

This gets all the more useful when you remember that those Back References are hotlinks within the PDF created via the Publisher.

The limitations of hotlink markers.

Unfortunately internal PDF hotlinks are not perfect; there are limitations. If you click on a section marker in plan, it will jump to the sheet with the section on it. But if there are four sections on that sheet, it won’t zoom into the one you selected. So there’s still some A504-WINDOW-DETAILSbrainpower required. This situation is exacerbated with details, where there might be ten, twenty, or thirty to a sheet. Back Reference suffers from this problem less. You’re probably going from an interior elevation to a plan that takes up an entire sheet. Of course it won’t zoom into that marker. Which is unfortunate.

Details raise one further hitch with hotlinked markers and Back References. Back References only link back to Source Markers. Which complicates things a bit. If a detail shows up on multiple sheets, the Back Reference will only jump you back to the source instance. But this is also a good re-enforcer. You should be doing your details in individual Detail windows anyways (and not in a giant grid like the olden days), since that’s necessary for Thermal Bridging Simulation with EcoDesigner STAR.

That’s enough for today. In the next post we’ll discuss some solutions to these limitations. In preparation, you might want to read this post over on my blog that discusses the bigger picture of architectural documentation in the 21st century.


  1. Jared Banks

    I’m sure you’re not the only one! I only learned about it maybe a year ago, if that.

  2. Rob Harrison AIA

    Who knew? Very cool. Thanks Jared. Can you embed hyperlinks to the web as well? Say for product information, or links to a web-based-spec section? That would be slick.

  3. Jared Banks

    Rob, you most definitely can embed hyperlinks. Any URL will be clickable. That’s actually coming up in the series of posts, I think part 4! So more on that soon.

  4. Claudia

    Hi Jared. This is a very interesting topic! Thanks. Although I believe you….the links dont work in my pdf…any special settings? (other than the pdfs must be merged?)…does it work in any pdf viewer or just Adobe reader? When I click on my section line nothing happens 🙁

    • Jared Banks

      On a mac it works with at least both Adobe Reader and Preview. Should be similar on a PC.

      Not sure what’s going on. Did you make the multi-page PDF from the publisher? Or from the save as or print function? It needs to be from the publisher.

      If you want, send me an e-mail with the PDF: jared @ shoegnome.com and I’ll take a look. I’m sure we can figure it out.

  5. marko

    hm, am I missing something, but when I published my layout map to single PDF nothing was hyperlinked. What am I missing?

    thank you for reply.

    • marko

      I am using ArchiCAD 16 INT and acrobat professional.

    • Jared Banks


      The marker reference must be set to “the selected drawing”, not “the viewpoint”.

      See if that fixes things. (This was Claudia’s issue which she and I worked through via e-mail)

      • Marko

        Jared, you are really fast. thank you for that.
        I have changed it and now it works. I had to select show drawing ID adn that led me to another problem. Now I have name and drawing ID displayed on my model. Problem is that I use drawing ID for my organizational purposes inside archicad file and name is what I want to be shown. As I saw name could not be hyperlinked, only drawing ID or layout ID.
        here’s a my screenshot with explanation of what I am looking for:

  6. Jared Banks

    Some days I work quickly! 🙂

    Regarding your new issue, I think this means you need to change your organizational process. In your example you need to swap Reference ID and name, so the ID becomes B and the name becomes p2.

    Out of curiosity what is p1, p2, p3 doing for you that couldn’t just be handled by the displayed A, B, C, etc.?

  7. George

    Anyone can help it ?
    How you auto load the PDF after was created with Archicad publisher ?
    this Without going to the location where you saved you PDF sets.
    is it a matter of archicad lake of publisher setting
    or you have to have a special PDF reader ?

    Thanks for your help

  8. Brian Lighthart

    George –
    I don’t think you can set ArchiCAD to open the pdf you just published with your pdf viewer. I think you are stuck with navigating to it manually.
    All –
    I just started playing with this lately, and I’ve gotten weird results. I have a publisher-produced 13 page pdf in which some section and detail markers link to appropriate sheets in the pdf and some do not. It seems to depend more on what kind of view the markers are placed in than whether they are Source or Linked markers, or whether they are linked to a View, a Drawing, the first placed drawing of selected View, or the first placed drawing of selected Viewpoint.

    I don’t think any of my markers are linked only to a View or a Viewpoint. I do have some independent markers, and I do not expect them to produce links. Many of the Linked markers (not Source markers) do produce links in the PDF.
    None of the markers in Section, Elevation, or Detail views have produced active links in the pdf; even those which are Linked Markers linked to first placed drawing of selected Viewpoint (just like the one’s on the Floor Plan which do create links in the PDF).
    I grow weary of tryin’ to control this functionality, and am wary of telling clients and contractors about it.


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