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.)

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.

See step two below for more details.

How to link to documents

Add the link text to the page

Make it clear to your site visitors that clicking the linked text is going to cause a document to open or begin downloading on their computer or device.

Add the file type in parentheses after the relevant words. 

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.

Example links to documents:

Upload the document, and copy its link

To generate a link to your file, you’ll need to upload it to WUSTL Box or your site’s media library.

WUSTL Box (option A below) is highly recommended because you can upload new versions of a document without having to update any of the links. In contrast, if you upload a file to your website’s media library, all the links to the document have to be updated every time a new version of the file is uploaded. This is because the media library bases a file’s web address on the original filename and upload date, as shown in the example below. 

Image shows example of a PDF URL. The file's upload month, date and name are included within the URL.

Option A: Upload document to WUSTL Box (RECOMMENDED)

Choose this option if:

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.

  • Log into WUSTL Box with your WUSTL Key
  • Click the Upload File button in the upper right to add the file. Depending on your preferences, you may want to upload it to a folder within your Box account.
  • Click the three dots that appear on the right of the file you just uploaded to reveal more options.
  • Select Share > Get Shared Link.
  • Under the shared link field, click People in this folder. Change the access type to People with the link to make it publicly available.
  • Click Copy to copy the document’s URL.

Option B: Upload document to your site’s media library

If a document will never be updated – such as slides for a presentation at a conference – you can upload the file to your site’s media library instead of using WUSTL Box.

You cannot easily track the number of file previews and downloads if you choose this option.

  • Click the Add Media button above the content editor toolbar.
  • In the pop-up window that appears, click on the Upload Files tab in the top left corner, next to Media Library.
  • Drag and drop the file from your computer onto the window, or click Select Files to browse your computer for the file.
  • When the file appears in your Media Library, a blue checkmark in the top right corner of the file thumbnail should indicate it has been selected. If the file is not selected, click the thumbnail.
  • On the right side of the window under Attachment Details, copy the entire link from the URL line. (Do not click the blue button in the bottom right corner that says Insert into page/post.) 
  • Close out of the window using the X in the top right corner.

Insert the link

  • Highlight the text you want to hyperlink, including the file type in parentheses.
  • Click on the link icon in the toolbar.
  • Paste the file’s URL into the pop-up menu that appears. 

Set the link to open in a new tab/window

  • Click on the gear icon (Link options) in the pop-up menu.
  • In the Insert/edit link window, check the box under Link Text to Open link in a new tab.
  • Click the blue Update button in the bottom right corner of the window.

Editing a link to a document

Changing the link

If you accidentally copied and pasted the wrong 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 or whether it opens in a new window/tab

If you wish to change the words that are hyperlinked, or adjust whether a link opens in the same window/tab:

  1. Click on the hyperlinked text.
  2. Click the pencil icon in the pop up menu.
  3. Then click on the gear icon.
  4. Type in the new link text or check/uncheck the box to open link in a new tab.
  5. Click Update.

Linking to documents on another website

You can link to a document hosted on another website just like you would any other website by clicking on the link icon in the toolbar of the visual editor and pasting in the document’s URL.

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 your Media Library.