How to make Table of Content links work in Word for Mac PDFs

My boyfriend’s Aunt recently came to me with a bug in Word for Mac that blew my mind. As an academic editor she deals with large scale text-heavy Word documents with intricate Table of Contents (ToC) but her problem was this:

When saving the file as a PDF all the internal page links were lost.

They worked fine in Word and were registered as links which you could edit in the links panel, but they wouldn’t save in the PDF. Something about the fact that they were inside the Word-generated ToC returned an error in the conversion process.

She explained that this is an ongoing problem in the writing/editing community that no one had found a solution to. Given the number of people in academia and publishing using Word for Mac this seems like a crazy unsolved problem. I can’t believe in 2019 we’ve got emotionally intelligent robots but Word has bugs in its PDF conversion process?!


Through some intense googling and an 80s themed forum addressing a different problem I found the answer.

  1. Highlight the ToC
  2. Copy it and then delete it
  3. Create an entirely new Word document
  4. Paste your ToC into the new document
  5. Then highlight it and copy it again
  6. Now paste it into your original document
  7. Save as PDF and voila!

Yes, it’s that nonsensical. Sometimes technology is infuriatingly basic. When you do this, the ToC becomes just text in your document rather an an automatically updating thing in your document and the links are understood in the PDF conversion process.

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