PDFs

Create PDFs of individual articles, your entire knowledge base, or a selection of articles.

PDF overview

Your knowledge base supports three types of PDF exports:

  • Individual article PDFs: when viewing an article in your knowledge base, readers can download a PDF of that article using the same general styles as your knowledge base. This can be enabled/disabled for the entire knowledge base or individual articles.
  • Standard (Full knowledge base) PDF: Create a PDF file containing all published content in your entire knowledge base
  • Custom PDF exports: Create PDFs from selections of published content in your knowledge base; great for things like onboarding guides, Getting Started, downloadable user manuals, etc.

Styling PDFs

By default, PDFs inherit the styles of your knowledge base. However, you can customize some styles (such as web fonts that don't generate in PDFs well) by adding custom CSS that references the .hg-pdf class.

For individual article PDFs, add overall layout/style changes in Settings > PDF. For Standard and Custom PDF exports, add overall layout/style changes in Knowledge Base > Exports in the appropriate tab.

Hyperlinks

In general, clickable hyperlinks will automatically generate in all three PDF types, though we have two warnings about this:

  • If you are primarily using PDFs as print resources, you may want to display the full URL of a hyperlink. See Display full URL of links in PDFs for how to do so.
  • Hyperlinks to same-page anchors will not work properly.

Individual article PDFs

Each article can be exported to an individual PDF that will match the look and feel of your knowledge base. PDF exports can be toggled on and off globally as well as on an individual article basis.

To format and style your individual article PDFs, go to Settings > PDF.

Here, you can add:

  • Single PDF Watermark
  • Single PDF Password
  • Page Size (A4 vs. US letter)
  • PDF header HTML
  • PDF footer HTML

While PDFs will have the same styles as your theme, you can override the styles for your PDFs using the CSS class "hg-pdf". This way, PDF articles can have styling different than your online versions. You'd add these styles in Settings > Styles in the Custom CSS section.

For additional layers of security, watermarks and passwords can be added to your individual PDFs to prevent unauthorized sharing and access.

The header and footer sections here are not impacted by CSS; to add and style headers and footers, you'll need to use straight HTML with in-line styles. We recommend placing headers or footers within a div or table and adding in-line styles for the div or table to help position the text where you'd like it.

For example, our PDF footers include this chunk of HTML:

<div style="text-align: center; font-size: 11px">Copyright © 2015 – 2022 Silly Moose, LLC. All rights reserved.<br>Powered by KnowledgeOwl knowledge base software.</div>

This div will be aligned in the center with a font-size of 11px. It then displays our copyright statement.

Once you make changes to your Individual Article PDF settings, you'll only see the changes in:
  • Articles created after you made the changes
  • Articles edited and saved after you made the changes (we usually use a specific article to test with and add/remove a line of text and re-save to test our formatting changes)

Once you have the individual article PDF formatted the way you'd like, contact us to regenerate all of your existing articles' PDFs.

See PDF look and feel for more ways to style or customize your individual article PDFs!

Standard PDF export (Full PDF Download)

The Standard PDF Export creates a PDF of all Published and Needs Review articles in your entire knowledge with a clickable table of contents. This PDF can optionally be displayed at the bottom of your table of contents to allow your readers to download an offline version of your content.

The Standard PDF can be customized with the following options:

  • Customizable cover page
  • Choose whether to include restricted content
  • Exclude video content
  • Specify A4 vs. US Letter page size
  • Add a watermark and/or a password
  • Add a custom footer

This Standard PDF will not automatically update as your content is updated; to ensure it's up-to-date, you'll want to periodically come into Knowledge Base > Exports, and click the Save & Regenerate PDF Export button.

What does include all private content do?

By default, the Standard PDF settings will leave the "Include all private content" box unchecked. With the box unchecked, the PDF will only include published content that has no reader group restrictions. If your Standard PDF is missing categories, it's likely because of this setting!

If you'd like the Standard PDF to include categories and/or articles that are restricted to reader groups, check this box and regenerate the PDF.

Custom PDF exports

Custom PDFs can be created from your knowledge base content, using only the categories and articles you specify. Custom PDFs are stored and can be regenerated on demand. They're great if you want to create a curated collection of some of your content, such as for new employee or new user onboarding, quick start guides, and so on.

Custom PDFs can only include articles with a Published or Needs Review status.Sample layout of the Custom PDFs tab. Here, we have two custom PDFs displayed.

Custom PDFs include many of the same options of the Standard PDF:

  • Customizable cover page
  • Specify A4 vs. US Letter page size
  • Add a watermark and/or a password
  • Edit the title of the table of contents
  • Add a custom footer

Create a Custom PDF

  1. Go to Knowledge Base Exports.
  2. Select the Custom PDFs tab.
  3. Click the + Create New Custom PDF button.
  4. Use the Custom PDF Options section to customize the layout of your PDF:
    1. Choose whether to Include a cover page using the Content options checkbox (defaults to no cover page).
    2. Provide a PDF Name. This name is displayed in the Custom PDF tab and is used as the file name when the PDF is downloaded.
    3. Select a Page Size. Options are A4 and US Letter (defaults to A4).
    4. Optional: Add the text you'd like used as a watermark in Watermark Text. This text will be displayed diagonally across the page of the PDF.
    5. Optional: If you'd like to password-protect this PDF, add a Password.
    6. All Custom PDFs generate with a Table of Contents. By default, this page is titled "Table of Contents." You can change the page heading by editing the Table of Contents Title.
    7. If you've included a cover page using the Content options checkbox at the top, edit the Cover Page Title to display the title you'd like. It will default to "[your knowledge base's name] Knowledge Base PDF". You can then include this wherever you'd like in the cover page by adding [pdf("cover-title")] into the Custom Cover Page Content.
    8. If you've included a cover page using the Content options checkbox at the top, you can also add additional Custom Cover Page Content in the box provided. This will take standard HTML.
    9. If you'd like anything displayed in the left section of the PDF footer, edit the Content Footer Left section.
    10. If you'd like anything displayed in the center section of the PDF footer, edit the Content Footer Center section.
    11. If you'd like anything displayed in the right section of the PDF footer, edit the Content Footer Right section.

      For the Content Footer sections or the Custom Cover Page content, there are several merge codes that can help auto-add certain text:
      • [pdf("cover-title")]: Adds the title text from Table of Contents Title
      • [pdf("date-created")]: Adds the date the PDF was created.
      • [pdf("page-number")]: Adds the PDF page number.
  5. Once you've configured the Custom PDF Options, use the checkboxes in the Included Content section to select the categories or articles you'd like include. Checking the box for a category will automatically check the boxes for all subcategories or articles it contains. Unlike Standard PDFs, Custom PDFs will include restricted content if it's checked.
  6. Once you've finished your selections, click the Save and Generate PDF button at the bottom of the page. (If you have a large knowledge base, you'll need to scroll to find this!)
  7. Once the PDF is generated, you'll be kicked back to the Custom PDFs tab. A progress bar will display under your custom PDF. Once that progress bar disappears, the PDF is available for download and you'll see a different display. See Using Custom PDFs below for more info!
The Included Content section tries to display the content hierarchy in your knowledge base, but it has some limitations. Once you hit the third layer of categories, content will not properly indent underneath subsequent categories. So, for example, in this screenshot, all of the articles listed at the same level as "Create a category" are actually inside Create a category:

Use a Custom PDF

Once you've generated at least one Custom PDF, you can see all of your Custom PDFs by going to: Knowledge Base > Exports and selecting the Custom PDFs tab.

You'll see one card for each Custom PDF. Here's the anatomy of a custom PDF card:

  1. At the top of the card, the title is displayed. This pulls directly from the PDF Name field in the Custom PDF configuration.
  2. If you click the View PDF Download Embed Code link, we'll display the HTML needed to embed this PDF somewhere in your knowledge base. Click anywhere in the code box that displays, right-click and select Copy. You can then paste this code in wherever you'd like to use it (such as in Settings > Style in one of the Custom HTML templates, or within the Code View of an individual article or category).
  3. We'll show the date and timestamp that the PDF was last generated, so you know how up-to-date it is.
  4. Use the Download link to download the PDF to your computer.
  5. If you don't need to change the PDF's settings and just want to regenerate it to be sure it has the latest content, select the Save and Regenerate PDF Export button.
  6. If you'd like to open the Custom PDF to edit its configuration, name, layout, or the content it contains, select the gear icon in the upper right.
  7. If you'd like to delete the PDF completely, select the trashcan icon in the upper right.

Regenerate a Custom PDF

Custom PDFs are a snapshot of your articles at the date and time your PDF is generated. If your articles change, you will want to regenerate your PDFs to update the content. 

To regenerate a custom PDF:

  1. Go to Knowledge Base Exports.
  2. Select the Custom PDFs tab.
  3. Find the card for the custom PDF you'd like to regenerate.
  4. Click the Save and Regenerate PDF Export button.
  5. A progress bar will appear to show you the regeneration's progress. Once it's complete, the Last generated statement will reappear with a new Download link. If you have embedded the PDF in your knowledge base, regenerating it will also update the PDF located at the embed code.

If you'd like to make edits to a PDF or view the content it contains before you regenerate, use the gear icon in the upper right of the custom PDF card instead!

PDF Watermarks and Passwords

You have the ability to specify watermark text and a password for your PDFs.

Watermark text will be displayed diagonally across each page of the PDF.

If you add a password, a user will have to enter that password before they can successfully open the PDF.

To add to each type of PDF:

  • For Individual article PDFs, go to Settings > PDF. If you add a watermark or password, make a small change to a single article and re-check the PDF to see how you like it. (PDFs can take a few minutes to regenerate.) Once you're happy with the change, contact us to regenerate all your article PDFs.
  • For Standard PDF export (Full PDF Download), go to Knowledge Base > Exports. This page should open to the Standard PDF tab and you can add your watermark or password there.
    • Once you make your changes, be sure to click the Save and Regenerate PDF Export button to update your Standard PDF.
  • For Custom PDF exports, go to Knowledge Base > Exports.
    • Open the Custom PDFs tab.
    • Find the card for the custom PDF you'd like to add a watermark or password to, and select the gear icon to the right of the PDF's name.
    • Once you've made the changes you'd like, be sure to click the Save and Regenerate PDF Export button at the bottom of the page to regenerate your custom PDF with those settings!