PDFs & Downloads

Ideally, almost all online content is available on the web page. But sometimes we need to have users download a PDF or other file.

Accessibility | Using the Downloads Plugin

PDF and Download Accessibility

Wherever practical, include your content in the body of a page instead of linking to a Microsoft Word or PDF file.

If you do need to link to a non-web page file, be sure to:

  • that the file is as accessible as it can be
  • warn people within the link text if a link is to a download such as a PDF

Accessible PDFs

The best method to make a PDF accessible is to create the document in an application that produces tagged PDFs–such as Microsoft Word–and then convert it to PDF format.

This involves the correct use of formatting such as headings within Word do that the software knows what types of content the various pieces of text are. And just like in web pages, you should provide alt text for images, and utilize lists.

content styles and formatting in Microsoft Word

Using the Downloads Plugin

The Downloads plugin in WordPress allows you to store PDFs and other downloadable files on your site. For any given file, it allows you to upload new versions and make notes for yourself about the new version. It also provides you with a web address for each file that will never change when you upload a new version. This means you won’t have to track down the links on your site and correct them.

Default Setting to Publish

To use this feature, begin by setting Downloads so that all files default to Publish instead of Private:

  1. Go to Downloads > Download Settings
    Download Settings
  2. Click the checkbox for Default Visibility
    Downloads: checkbox for Default Visibility
  3. Click Save Changes

Add a Download

To create a new file download:

  1. Go to Downloads > Add Download
  2. Type in a title for the file that will help you identify and organize it in the Dashboard area, and search for it from page edit screens.
    Download title
  3. Find and click on the Upload New Version button.
    Upload New Version button
  4. Locate the file on your computer and insert it.
  5. Click Publish.

You will see a web address for the file that reflects the title you typed in.
web address that reflects the title you typed in


Link to a Download

To easily link to a file in your Downloads area:

  1. Go to a page editing screen in WordPress.
  2. Type in the link text, select it, and click on the Insert/edit link icon.
    select link text and click Link icon
  3. In the text field that pops up, start typing your Download title. You will see a spinning wheel as WordPress searches your files and posts. you may only need to type in a partial title. Notice below how the type of content in listing on the right. So I know I have the right link at top!
    search for download link
  4. Click on the correct search result, then on the blue arrow to Apply the link.
    accept the link
  5. Update your page! Now you can upload new versions any time and this link will stay the same.

Note: Be sure to warn the user that the link is to a download:
add PDF text to link


Uploading a New Version

To upload a new version of the file without changing anything else like the title or web address:

  1. Go to Downloads and click on the specific Download title you need to update.
    Downloads list
  2. Click on the Upload New Version button.
    Upload New Version button
  3. Find the new version on your computer and insert it.
  4. Go down to Revision Summary and type in a note to yourself about why there’s a new version.
    Revision Summary for download
  5. Click Update.