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Add PDFs to WordPress Websites

The process for uploading a PDF is the same as it is for adding an image. We cover uploading photos in our 5 Helpful Tips for WordPress Beginners post. Here we’ll go into less detail on the upload process. If you want more information on uploading (and screenshots), check out this section for uploading to the media library and this one for uploading to a post or page.

Uploading PDFs to WordPress

WordPress offers two ways to upload PDFs. You can add them to the Media Library directly or you can add them directly from a post or page’s edit area. Regardless of the method used, WordPress will store the PDFs in the Media Library.

To upload a PDF using the Media Library

Screenshot showing how to add an item to the WordPress media library.
  • From the admin area, hover over “Media” and click “Add New.”
  • On the Add New screen, click the “Select Files” button to choose and upload PDFs from your computer or simply drag and drop the PDF file into the dotted rectangle.
  • The new PDF will appear below the dotted rectangle. Your upload is automatically saved, so you don’t need to take any further action.

To upload a PDF from a page or post

Screenshot showing how to upload a file to WordPress.
Note: this is a screenshot of this page — the “Uploading PDFs to WordPress” is a heading in the screenshot, not a part of this post.
  • Hover over the area where you want to add an image and click the plus icon that appears (screenshot above).
  • In the popup, select “File.” (If you don’t see the File option, search for it in the search bar.)
  • In the white box that appears, click the “Upload” button (not shown in screenshot). (If you have already added the PDF, click “Media Library” and select the PDF — skip the next step.)
  • Select the file from your computer.
  • The file name of your PDF should appear with a “Download” button to the right. You can click the text to start editing the file name; you can also click the text in the button and edit it.
  • WordPress inserts a significant space between your last block and the PDF area. You can reduce this by clicking and dragging the small circle that shows above the button and file name. (See the options below for ways to avoid this space.) Note: WordPress will not display the PDF on your page or post. Below we link to a page with details on how to display a PDF as part of your page or post content.
  • Your file will be saved automatically to your Media library. To save it to the page or post you added it to click “save draft” (for new pages) or “publish.”

Options for providing access to PDFs on WordPress

Once you have the PDF uploaded to your “Library,” WordPress’ built-in features give you two choices: you can (a) add a link to the PDF in a post or (b) link to the PDF from a menu. Below, we’ll go over each option. But, before we do, we’d like to point out that if you want the PDF itself to show within the content of your page, you can use a plugin as this page explains. Okay, now on to the ways to use PDFs with WordPress’ out-of-the-box capabilities.

To add a link to the PDF in a page or post

Screenshot showing where to copy URL for a file uploaded to WordPress.
  • Click “Media” to open your Media Library. (See above for how to upload a PDF to your Media Library.)
  • Click the PDF you want to link to.
  • In the popup that appears, click the “Copy URL to clipboard” button (screenshot).
  • You can now add the URL into your content as you would any other URL — i.e. use your cursor to highlight the text you want to link to, then click the chain icon, paste in your URL, and click enter or the arrow (screenshot below).
Screenshot showing how to create a link in WordPress.

To link to a PDF directly from the site’s menu

Screenshot showing how to add PDF to a WordPress menu.
  • Click “Media” to open your Media Library. (See above for how to upload a PDF to your Media Library.)
  • Click the PDF you want to link to.
  • In the popup that appears, click the “Copy URL to clipboard” button (screenshot).
  • Hover over the “Appearance” menu on the far left and click “Menus.”
  • From the menu admin page, click “Custom Links” to expand the options under this item (screenshot above).
  • Past the PDF URL into the “URL” field and type what you want the menu link to say in the “Link Text” field.
  • Click the “Add to Menu” button. This will add the menu item to the menu. You can then drag and drop the newly added menu item to where you want it to appear. (See our post on editing menus for more details.)
  • Click “Save Menu” in the lower right.
  • A link to your PDF will now appear in your menu. When users click the menu link, they will access the PDF.

As you can see, there are several ways to make PDFs accessible to your WordPress users. If you have any questions or know of other ways to utilize PDFs that you think should be included on this page, please reach out. Sometimes you may want to do something that WordPress or an existing plugin does not allow. If that’s the case, you may need a developer to create a custom plugin. Creating custom plugins is something we have experience with, and we would be glad to assist you.

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