Add a link to a PDF or other file into a Word document

Inserting a link to a PDF (or any other file) into a Word document or email is easy to do.  All you need is the web or other link to the PDF and paste that link into your document or email.

The key question to ask is ‘Where is the PDF located or saved to?’

Next question is “Do the receivers/readers have access to that location?”.

The file (PDF or other) has to be saved to a location available to other people (like a public web site, cloud storage or in-house network like SharePoint).  All file locations have permissions limiting who can view or edit a file. Permissions can range from limited to specific people (logins) all the way to full public access to anyone.

If the file is saved on your computer or in an Outlook email, it needs to be saved to another place that other people can find it.

The first step is to get the file link from the source.  A web site, OneDrive or other cloud storage or a network folder.

Web Site

Let’s say the PDF is saved to a web site, open the PDF in your browser (any browser) and the link will be in the address bar.

Select the entire link, right-click and choose Copy.

A web link is usually in the form https:// …. or http://  .  More rarely these days it’s a file download starting with ftp://

In-house network

If the file is located on a network share then look it up in Windows Explorer.  The link will be in the address bar.

Server links start with a double slash //<servername>/<folders>.


If the file is on OneDrive, open up your OneDrive account in your web browser then find the file you want a link for.

Click the Share button to see the link options (read only, editing etc).

DropBox and other cloud storage

It’s the same in other cloud storage like Dropbox. Select the PDF or other file, then choose Share to get a web link.

OneDrive, Dropbox and other cloud storage have a range of sharing options (read-only, restricted access etc) which detailed in Beating Bots, Spies and Cock-ups. The books ‘Cloud Storage’ chapter shows how to safely share online files and general cloud storage security.


If the PDF etc has arrived as an email attachment, you can’t directly link to it.  That’s because the PDF is saved on your computer not a location available to other people.

Your options are:

  • Save the PDF to cloud storage or network folder, then get a link to share the file.
  • Forward the email with attachment to other people.

However you get the file link (from a web site, OneDrive, network folder) then add it to a Word document or Outlook email,

Paste the link into a document/email simply by pasting (Ctrl + V)  to show a complete visible link.

Or select some visible text and press Ctrl + K to insert a link with that text.  Paste the link into the Address box.

Word links – Internal links via headings or bookmarks
Understanding the strange FollowedHyperlink style in Word
Two ways to open a OneDrive document in Microsoft Office
How to accept an Office document share or collaboration