Interdocument Xrefs

An xref to another AsciiDoc document (i.e., an interdocument xref) will either become a link to the PDF file generated from that source document or an internal link to an anchor within the current document. Which one it becomes depends on whether the target has been included into the current document. This page describes these two scenarios.

Referencing another document

If the target PDF is generated from an AsciiDoc file, you can make a reference to that PDF using the xref macro.

Let’s assume the current document is a.adoc and the PDF you want to reference is generated from b.adoc. Here’s how you can make a reference from the PDF generated from a.adoc to the PDF generated from b.adoc.

A link to xref:b.adoc[b].

This xref macro is translated to a link that refers to b.pdf.

If there’s an anchor you want to target in b.pdf, for example chapter-b, you can describe it using a URL fragment just like you would with any URL.

A link to xref:b.adoc#chapter-b[b].
Linking to a named anchor isn’t supported by all PDF viewers. Some viewers (like Firefox) only support relative links when the PDF is accessed through a web server. To verify it’s working, test the PDF in Firefox and served through a local web server.

PDF supports a variety of PDF link open parameters you can control using the URL fragment. For example, you can configure the PDF to open on a specific page using the special fragment page=<N>, where <N> is the 1-based page number.

A link to page 2 of xref:b.adoc#page=2[b].

You can find a list of all the special fragment parameters in the PDF Open Parameters reference.

Converting interdocument xrefs to internal xrefs

If you’re using this converter to generate a single PDF file from multiple source documents (combined using the include directive), references between those included documents must become internal references. Interdocument cross references (i.e., xrefs) will only successfully make that transition if you structure your document in accordance with the rules.

Those rules are as follows:

  1. The path segment of the interdocument xref must match the project-relative path of the included document

  2. The reference must include the ID of the target element

For instance, if your primary document contains the following include:


Then an interdocument xref to an anchor in that chapter must be expressed as:

<<chapters/chapter-1.adoc#_anchor_name,Destination in Chapter 1>>

This rule holds regardless of which document the xref is located in.

To resolve the interdocument xref, the converter first checks if the target matches the docname attribute. It then looks to see if the target matches one of the included files. (In both cases, it ignores the file extension). If Asciidoctor cannot resolve the target of an interdocument xref, it simply makes a link (like the HTML converter).

Let’s consider a complete example. Assume you are converting the following book document at the root of the project:

= Book Title
:doctype: book



Where the contents of chapter 1 is as follows:

== Chapter 1

We cover a little bit here.
The rest you can find in <<chapters/chapter-2.adoc#_chapter_2,Chapter 2>>.

And the contents of chapter 2 are as follows:

== Chapter 2

Prepare to be educated.
This chapter has it all!

To begin, jump to <<chapters/chapter-2/first-steps.adoc#_first_steps,first steps>>.



And, finally, the contents of the nested include are as follows:

=== First Steps

Let's start small.

You’ll find when you run this example that all the interdocument xrefs become internal references in the PDF.

The reason both the path and anchor are required (even when linking to the top of a chapter) is so the interdocument xref works independent of the converter. In other words, it encodes the complete information about the reference so the converter can sort out where the target is in all circumstances.