How to Easily Embed PDFs in WordPress

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There’s no way to embed a PDF without a plugin.

You can link to a PDF, but embed it? Nope.

Since you’re left to install another plugin, you’ll want the easiest one to use. You want a plugin that is fast, simple, and provides a great experience for your visitors.

In this post, you’ll learn how to use a plugin to easily embed PDFs just like this one in your posts and pages.

PDF embedded in a post

How to embed a PDF in a page or post

There are three steps to embed a PDF in any post or page:

  1. Upload the PDF to WordPress
  2. Install the PDF Embedder plugin
  3. Insert the PDF

I’ll share some alternative plugins and answers to common questions at the end of the tutorial as well.

How to upload a PDF to WordPress

The first step is to upload the PDF to WordPress.

While you can visit the Media Library in your dashboard to upload the PDF, you can also upload PDFs straight from the page editor.

In the editor screen, click the Add Media button, and simply drag-and-drop the PDF into the popup.

Uploading PDF in a page

Alternatively, you can click the Upload Files tab and use the Select Files button to select a PDF from your computer.

Button for selecting files to upload

Once the PDF is finished uploading, you’ll see it listed with the rest of your media.

Preview image of the thumbnail
WordPress 4.7 added preview images for PDFs. Sweet!

Now that the PDF has been uploaded, it’s time to embed it in the page.

How to embed with PDF Embedder

Before installing any plugins, you’ll see these options to edit and insert the PDF:

PDF settings and insert buton

If you set the Link To drop-down to Media File, clicking the Insert into page button will add a link to the PDF file, like this:

Link to the PDF

Clicking the link will open the PDF in a new browser tab. The style and functionality of the PDF viewer will depend on the browser being used.

To embed the PDF instead of linking to it, we’ll use the PDF Embedder plugin.

Install PDF Embedder

The best way to embed PDFs in WordPress is the excellent PDF Embedder plugin.

PDF Embedder

After installing the plugin, you’ll find a new menu added under Settings where you can make a few adjustments to the embeds.

Settings page from PDF Embedder

Embed the PDF

With the plugin installed, pressing the Insert into post button adds a shortcode to the post instead of a link.

Shortcode added by PDF Embedder

In case you’re not familiar, plugins use shortcodes to output complex content into posts and pages. In this case, we see a simple shortcode named “pdf-embedder” with a URL property set to the URL of the PDF file.

While it doesn’t look like much in the editor, if you view your post, you’ll see an interactive PDF complete with a toolbar at the bottom.

PDF embedded in a post

Visitors can navigate through the pages and zoom in and out. The toolbar only shows when hovering over the PDF by default, but that can be changed via the PDF Embedder settings menu.

PDF Embedder alternatives

PDF Embedder is very easy to use and works great. However, it does lock away some features in the premium versions. A few alternatives to consider are:

You might also like the Jotform PDF editor which allows you to create embeddable PDFs from your contact form entries.

Common PDF Embed Questions

When embedding PDFs in WordPress there are a few common questions that tend to surface.

Is there a full-width display?

PDF Embedder has a full-width display option in the premium version. Alternatively, you can link visitors to the PDF instead, and it will open full screen in a new browser tab.

Can I track views/downloads?

The simplest solution is the premium version of PDF Embedder which currently costs $20. Alternatively, you can setup downloads with a plugin like Delightful Downloads or Easy Digital Downloads, although they may be excessive for just tracking download counts.

Can visitors edit or sign the PDF?

There currently is not a good solution for allowing visitors to edit a PDF on your site. Instead, give them a download button and recommend an editor for modifying the PDF on their computer.

Embedding PDFs with WordPress

With a default WordPress installation, you can link visitors to PDFs. While this is okay in some situations, it can be more user-friendly to embed the PDF directly on the page.

For embedding PDFs in posts and pages, it doesn’t get easier than the PDF Embedder plugin.

Do you have any questions about adding PDFs to your WordPress site? Leave a comment below.

Ben Sibley
Ben Sibley
This article was written by Ben Sibley. He is a WordPress theme designer & developer, and founder of Compete Themes.