There are times when we want our readers to be able to download and print our materials from our blog posts: informational handouts, flyers, white papers, other documents…the list is kind of long.
When we think of downloading and printing, most of us tend to think in terms of .pdf files.
Disclaimer: .pdf files have a controversial history on the web. Much has been written regarding their search engine optimization, accessibility, and appearance/appeal in the context of HTML dominant environments. There are many great articles on the pros and cons of pdfs in web pages, but all of them start with the assumption that .pdfs were designed for downloading and printing. If you want your readers to download and print something, you need to consider – just consider – .pdfs. There are many ways to incorporate .pdf files into blogs. I’m going to talk about three of them.
#1. Upload the .pdf to your Media Library.
If you insert the .pdf into the document just as you would an image, it will look like this:
You can alter the hyperlinked text however you like. I’ll alter the link so it does not reflect my bad habit of downloading the same thing to my laptop over and over again.
You can also add an image thumbnail to go along with it, to make it look more interesting. Admittedly not the most exciting thumbnail image, but hopefully you get the point.
#2. Hyperlink to a .pdf that you have housed elsewhere.
This can be effective, particularly if you were planning on posting your document on academia.edu anyway [Example]. The downside of this approach is that all you get is a link – no visuals to go with it.
You could always upload a copy of the cover and put the link in the caption…something like this. This is a screenshot I took of the first page. I uploaded the screenshot and then added the link as a caption. Click on the link and you go to academia.edu, where you can download my document.
#3. Embed the .pdf directly into your post.
Vanilla PDF Embed is a free WordPress plugin that allows you to embed a .pdf reader directly into the post. Those of us who use regular, free wordpress.com sites (such as this one), cannot upload plugins such as Vanilla PDF Embed. One of the perks of paying for a hosted site on WordPress (e.g. my lauragogia.com site) is that you can upload plugins. Alternatively, VCU has paid for the privilege of offering RamPages users 85+ plugins, including Vanilla PDF Embed. So if you are a RamPage user, you are good to go with these instructions.
How to use Vanilla PDF Embed on your RamPages site
Go to your dashboard. Click on PlugIns. Check the alphabetical list. If the prompt under Vanilla PDF says “Activate” then click the “Activate.” If it says “Deactivate” then it is activated already – do nothing. I think you will all need to activate the plugin.
Once Vanilla PDF Embed is activated, upload your pdf file to your media library, copy the attachment url, and then exit the media library without posting.
Paste the copied url into your post (visual or html view – it doesn’t matter) and you’ll get this. Again, note that I can’t actually demonstrate this on my blog, since my blog is not a rampage.us site. The hyperlink I just gave you – that’s to my RamPage site. For someone teaching this sort of thing, it’s useful to have webpages set up on several platforms for demonstration and diagnosis purposes if nothing else.