Linking to Documents (pdf, doc, ppt, xls)

Link to files by uploading them to WUSTL Box or your website's media library.

If you want to link to a document – such as a PDF or a PowerPoint presentation – you’ll upload the file to WUSTL Box or your website, copy the file’s URL /  web address, and use that URL for the link.

Before you link to a file, consider the following:

  • If you’re linking to a PDF that’s primarily text, you could move the content out of the PDF and onto a page of your site.
  • If you’re linking to PDF with a form, you could create a web form instead of using a PDF.
  • If you frequently link to presentations, you could host presentations on SlideShare instead to increase their reach. (You can easily embed SlideShare presentations onto any page of your site.)

Jump to a section below:

Choosing where to store files

There are two different methods for storing and sharing documents.

Upload to WUSTL Box (recommended)

Use when:

Upload to your site’s media library

Use when:
  • The file will never be updated, such as presentation slides or annual reports that will be archived each year
  • You don’t want to track the number of file previews or downloads

How to link to documents

First, upload your file to Box or the media library

Option 1:
Upload to WUSTL Box (recommended)

Because WUSTL Box supports versioning,  when you upload new versions of a file, the document’s URL stays the same. Make sure the file’s share settings allow access to people with the link so the document is publicly available, and that the link expiration date is disabled.

  1. Log into WUSTL Box with your WUSTL Key
  2. Click the Upload button in the upper right to add a file or folder. Depending on your preferences, you may want to upload it to a folder within your Box account.
  3. Once you’ve uploaded the file, hover over the name. Click the three dots that appear on the right of the file you just uploaded to reveal more options.
  4. Select Share.
  5. Toggle on Enable Shared Link.
  6. Under the shared link field, click Invited people only. Change the access type to People with the link to make it publicly available.
  7. Click Link Settings. Under Link Expiration, uncheck Disable Shared Link on, then click Save. (By default, links will automatically expire after 90 days.)
  8. Click Copy to copy the document’s URL.

Option 2:
Upload to the media library

  1. From the left menu of your site’s dashboard, select Media > Add New.
  2. Drag and drop the file from your computer onto the window, or click Select Files to browse your computer for the file.
  3. Click Edit next to the uploaded file.
  4. On the right side of the window, copy the entire link from the File URL line.

Linking to documents on another website

You can link to a document hosted on another website just like you would link to any other page on a site.

For example, you could link directly to WashU’s 2016 Annual Report (PDF) from You do not need to download documents from other sites and upload them to Box or your Media Library.

Next, add the link to the page or post.

  1. Add the link text to the page or post
  2. Add the file type in parentheses after the relevant words (PDF, PPT, XLS, etc.)

Example links to documents

According to Thomson Reuters’ ScienceWatch 2014 (PDF), they are among the best…

Download the Facts brochure (PDF) »

At the annual WordPress conference, Teresa Lane’s cat-themed content modeling presentation (ppt) had the audience purring.

Including the file type makes it clear to site visitors that clicking the linked text will cause a document to open or begin downloading on their computer or device. This gives your site visitors the option to right click on the document if they’d rather save it for later, or continue reading the page and return to the document link when they’ve finished.

Editing links

Changing the link

  1. Click on the hyperlinked text.
  2. Click on the pencil icon in the pop up menu.
  3. Paste in the new URL.

Changing the linked text

If you wish to change the words that are hyperlinked:

  1. Highlight all or part of the hyperlinked text, depending on how much of it you wish to change.
  2. Start typing the new text. Even if you are changing all of the text, the linked URL should be retained.

Changing whether a link opens in a new window/tab

If you wish to adjust whether a link opens in the same window/tab:

  1. Click the linked text.
  2. Click the down arrow to see more options.
  3. Use the Open in New Tab slider to change whether the link opens in the same tab or a new tab.

Replacing documents

If you’re uploading a new version of a document that’s already on your site, this could break all links to that file. For this reason we recommend using WUSTL Box to host files that will be regularly updated. 

  • If using WUSTL Box (recommended): Upload the revision as a new version of the same document; this way the file’s URL stays the same and the links won’t break.
  • If uploading files to your site’s media library: After you upload the new file, find all links to the original document (we recommend a site search), and replace them with the new link.