In the paper I am currently writing I would really like to be able to \hyperref another part of the paper from within a graphic. The graphic output format is eps which I then convert to pdf with eps2pdf and then include the pdf in my document. Now I "somehow" want to be able to specify a reference in my eps which gets preserved from the eps2pdf step and then I can have a clickable link within my graphic that refers to a different part of the document. I have no clue how to achieve this.

A completely different approach using a different starting format and end format is fine with me also but I prefer it to still be vector graphics.

I use pdflatex to render my document.

Below is a reproducable example.

In my case I have a eps file that contains links to both a url and a \hyperref. To showcase this I made a quick dot file to illustrate what my kind of eps I am dealing with, I converted the dot file to eps with: dot -Teps test.dot -o test.eps. Please be aware though that my files aren't dot files actually and I use it here because it makes for an easier example.

digraph Test {
    g[href="https://www.google.com", fontcolor=blue, label="google"];
    test[href="\hyperref[sec:Introduction]{Links to intro}", fontcolor=blue, label="Introduction"];

Then I convert the resulting eps to pdf using epstopdf: epstopdf test.eps which then creates my pdf which has a \URL with the hyperref intact. Then I include the graphic in latex with \includegraphic:




\hyperref[sec:Introduction]{Links to intro}




So now they are 2 problems. The real URL to google doesn't work since it isn't clickable at all and also the hyperref embedded doesn't work. The real url works if I open the test.pdf file.

So I don't mind writing some code to fix this with some transformations but I have no idea how.

Any help is appreciated.

  • There is no reliable way of maintaining interactive elements (links, multimedia, PDF Layers) in included documents, using commands from the graphicx and pdfpages packages.
    – AlexG
    Mar 27, 2018 at 9:20
  • @AlexG How about different packages? I am completely open on how to do it.
    – John Smith
    Mar 27, 2018 at 9:21
  • The only effort in this field I know of is the pax package: https://ctan.org/pkg/pax. Though it does not seem to be actively developped currently.
    – AlexG
    Mar 27, 2018 at 9:27

2 Answers 2


Any interactive elements, such as links, embedded multimedia, PDF Layers, are stripped off while embedding a PDF by means of the usual commands from the graphicx and pdfpages packages.

There is an experimental package on CTAN, pax, which attempts to re-create such elements using an external Java programme. But the project seems to be discontinued.

Currently, re-inserting interactive elements require a tedious, manual procedure, which can be simplified a bit by package onimage, introduced ↗here. It can be downloaded as onimage.dtx↗here. Run pdflatex twice on it to get onimage.sty and the documentation onimage.pdf.

onimage was designed to facilitate annotating embedded image files. Optionally it can show a grid of helper lines that greatly simplifies finding the link rectangle coordinates.

For convenience, we define \linkRect(<lowerleft>)(<upper right>){...} which can be used inside a tikzonimage or tikzpicture environment to create a link rectangle between (<lowerleft>) and (<upper right>), e. g. as

\linkRect(llx,lly)(urx,ury) {\href{URL}{~}};

Use ~ as a placeholder for the link text.

The Perl-Script extractURIs.pl listed below extracts all URI (i. e. external) links from a given uncompressed PDF and writes readily formatted

\linkRect(llx,lly)(urx,ury) {\href{URL}{~}};

commands to the terminal. For uncompressing, use pdftk commandline tool:

pdftk input.pdf output - uncompress | extractURIs.pl

enter image description here



% use `~' as placeholder for the link text
% \linkRect(llx,lly)(urx,ury) {\href{URL}{~}};
  \coordinate (ll) at (#1); \coordinate (ur) at (#2);\def~{\tikz \useasboundingbox (ll) rectangle (ur);}
  \node [anchor=south west, inner sep=0] at (ll)


  \begin{tikzonimage}[width=5cm]{example-image-a}[tsx/show help lines]
    \linkRect(0.35,0.25)(0.65,0.75) {\href{https://www.google.de/search?q=onimage.dtx&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&client=firefox-b&gfe_rd=cr&dcr=0&ei=6lW6Wq_yEt6CgAfZq5mgDA}{~}};


Perl scipt extractURIs.pl:

#!/usr/bin/perl -w


  if (/\/MediaBox\s+\[([\d\.\s]+\d)\]/) {
    @mediaBox=split /\s+/, $1;
  elsif(/\/Subtype\s*\/Link/) {$isLink=1;}
  elsif(/\/Rect\s+\[([\d\.\s]+\d)\]/) {
  elsif(/\/URI\s+\((.*)\)\s*$/) {
  elsif(/endobj/) {
    if($isUri && $isLink) {
      push @linkUri, $uri;
      push @linkRect, $rect;


for($i=0; $i<@linkUri; $i++) {
  ($llx,$lly,$urx,$ury) = split /\s+/, $linkRect[$i];

  print "\\linkRect($llx,$lly)($urx,$ury) {\\href{$linkUri[$i]}{~}};\n";
  • \useasboundingbox solves the "inelegance" I felt about my solution. Together with the advantages of onimage: Go for this solution, @John.
    – Tiuri
    Mar 28, 2018 at 8:49
  • Thanks, Tiuri! I am trying to write a Perl script that extracts the Links from the PDF to be included and outputs the required \linkRect(llx,lly)(urx,ury) {\href{URL}{~}}; commands. The detour via SVG, as suggested by @John does not seem sensible to me.
    – AlexG
    Mar 28, 2018 at 9:00
  • @John : The answer now contains a Perl script that allows you to extract the Web URLs from the given PDF to be included.
    – AlexG
    Mar 28, 2018 at 10:29
  • @John : There were a number of bugs in the Perl part that had to be fixed. Now it seems to work.
    – AlexG
    Mar 28, 2018 at 13:59

In your final document, you can add hyperlinks on top of the images/PDFs you include. Here is an example where I

  • draw a transparent rectangle with the size the hyperlink should take,
  • turn this rectangle into a hyperlink,
  • draw the hyperlink on top of an included image.


    \includegraphics[width=5cm]{example-image-a}\Put(-92,105){\href{www.google.de}{\tikz \fill [opacity=0] (0,0) rectangle (1.5,2) ;}}

enter image description here

This requires a lot of manually chosen dimensions, so it might be to cumbersome to use if you have plenty images of this type. However, as a quick fix it works.

  • For this kind of annotating included images, I recommend onimage, to be downloaded as onimage.dtx ↗here
    – AlexG
    Mar 27, 2018 at 11:14
  • @AlexG: This question is not about annotating the image (the OP probably doesn't want to have the coloured frames of hyperref because the hyperlinks are already highlighted in the original image file), but about adding a hyperlink to it. So the hyperlink has to be set outside of the tikz environment and not as node content - so I don't think onimage is helpful for this question.
    – Tiuri
    Mar 27, 2018 at 11:52
  • @Turi : onimage was designed to facilitate manual annotating embedded images, as you did with a link in your right example. Sorry, I didn't want to invalidate your answer, just wanted to point to a convenient tool for this kind of task.
    – AlexG
    Mar 27, 2018 at 12:37
  • @AlexG: I'm happy for better answers (there's definitely much potential here), I just don't think that onimage can provide overlayed hyperlinks without associated text (at least not in a way that is more elegant than my solution). If you can prove me wrong - go ahead, and I'll learn something new :)
    – Tiuri
    Mar 27, 2018 at 12:40
  • Elegance is in the eye of the beholder ;-)
    – AlexG
    Mar 27, 2018 at 15:00

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .