Embedding PDF in WordPress – Work around

Seeing as I’m the Online Content Developer ( funny how that’s abbreviated OCD right?) at the center I work in and I support faculty in online and technology tools, I got a seemingly simple issue today from a professor today. She has an active blog and she is a writer at a cultural magazine here in Egypt. She came in wanting to put the PDF files of her articles on her blog for readers to view and read directly there. I thought to myself, no problem! Right? That seems like a pretty simple request since I could embed Youtube videos, Soundloud easily and and sometimes even prezis (only with Pro accounts). With the free basic account on wordpress PDF is a file format that could be inserted in a post. When I tried to upload it, it only posts as a hyperlink that directs to the PDF. But obviously, because I’m the OCD at the center and that I’m actually a little OCD (Obsessive Compulsive) with visuals, that was not a viable, visually appealing or even acceptable solution for me.

The professor had a class in a few minutes so she was in a hurry and didn’t mind coming back after, I asked her to come back when she was done. For the duration of the class I kept trying to work around the problem, not that it is a problem but it was for me! Because I go crazy when I can’t figure out seemingly simple things like this!

Turns out the way you embed a PDF (as in have it put on your blog post with a PDF reader that you could scroll up and down in the file with) in your blog post you need a plugin, but I couldn’t even find the plugin button in the dashboard menu (it’s supposed to be right under Tools) so after lots of research I found out that this is possible only for people with pro accounts.

I thought there’s gotta be a way to make it a less ugly and bland (for me). Then I thought why not insert the first page of the file as an image (because it was a beautiful photo and had a gorgeous layout with the title of the article and all) and then make that image link to the PDF file. As in instead of having the link there.

The way to do this, in case anyone would like to know, is to click on ‘Add Media’ when you are editing the post and insert both the image (of the first page of the article) and the PDF file itself. Then go to the PDF file in the media library and copy the link on the right hand side. When you’re done copying the link, select the photo from the media library and on the right side, from the drop down menu, select ‘Custom URL’ then paste the link in URL box under it. Click insert into post on the bottom and Voila! Just make sure to write a note to your readers to click the photo to view the full PDF.

Also, in case you’re wondering or don’t know how to do it, the way to save the first page of the PDF (or any page for that matter) as an image is to open the PDF file on your computer like you would normally, go to the page you want to save as image and from the File menu at the top click on Export, change file format to JPEG or PNG and adjust the quality (depending on your desired quality and resolution) and just click export. There you have it!

The result turned out to be beautiful and she fell in love with this work around. So I just thought of sharing that in case anyone faced the same issue 🙂

Good luck, and feel free to post a comment below in case anything went wrong, maybe I can help!


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3 Responses to Embedding PDF in WordPress – Work around

  1. Maha Bali says:

    Good thinking! Thanks for sharing..

    I know you can embed google docs into wordpress just using iframe embed code – what would happen if u saved the pdf into google drive and tried embedding that way? It works for google docs and slides…might work for PDF. Let me know if it does.


  2. kafjr92 says:

    You can just upload it as a media and it embeds automatically without a plugin

    check this link out it explains how you can do it

    hope this helps 🙂


    • Thank you! But trust me ya Kafrawi, I’ve tried doing exactly that, but for some weird reason it kept appearing as a hyperlink! Maybe WordPress doesn’t do that anymore, the video is from 2010. But thanks for helping 😉


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