Page numbers in PDF?

Subject: Page numbers in PDF?
From: "Hart, Geoff" <Geoff-H -at- MTL -dot- FERIC -dot- CA>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 25 Jun 2002 16:15:38 -0400

Anne Parker reports: <<Our company distributes documentation via PDF and
hard copy, but more towards PDFs. We start page numbering with the first
page of chapter 1, which is page 5 or higher of the resulting PDF (after
the cover, front matter and TOC), so the page references in the text do not
match the PDF page numbers.>>

Others have already proposed ways around this problem, so I'll just play
devil's advocate here:

If the document uses page numbers, this suggests that it's designed to be
printed, since page numbers aren't as useful as hyperlinks for an online
document. For a printed document, the problem you report should never arise
because the page references will be correct. Conversely, if the document is
designed for online use, you should try to replace page numbers with
hyperlinks wherever possible; after all, a major goal of putting the
document online is to make it easy to move between sections. In that case,
readers probably won't pay much attention to the page numbers since they're
more likely to follow links.

Creating a document formatted for printing and expecting people to use it
online always creates problems, not the least of which is the fact that
documents that print on 8.5x11 or other large paper can't be read onscreen
without lots of scrolling. Trying to create a single document that works
equally well online and in print is difficult, but possible: the solution
starts with choosing a page size that displays equally well onscreen and on
paper. Turning page numbers into hyperlinks is a reasonable compromise, but
it's still a compromise: if you have the time and resources to design
documents optimized for their intended use, that's always a better solution.

--Geoff Hart, geoff-h -at- mtl -dot- feric -dot- ca
Forest Engineering Research Institute of Canada
580 boul. St-Jean
Pointe-Claire, Que., H9R 3J9 Canada
"User's advocate" online monthly at
"Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from a
personality, and an obnoxious one at that."--Kim Roper

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