by Tina Olivero

    10 Tips for Editing PDFs Like a Pro

    Dealing with PDF files is a common occurrence in work and school environments. Whether you receive a PDF document that needs editing, need to fill out a PDF form, or want to convert a PDF file into an editable Word document, overcoming the restrictive nature of PDF files can be a headache. This guide will teach you how to traverse the sometimes frustrating restrictions of the portable document format.

    Follow these 10 pro tips to edit, convert, and work with PDFs efficiently. With the right tools and know-how, you’ll be working with PDF documents just as easily as regular Word or text files.

    Use the Right PDF Reader

    Not all PDF readers and editors support text extraction or other editing functions. The popular Adobe Acrobat Reader DC only allows form filling. For better editing capability, use the full Adobe Acrobat DC software or Windows 10’s built-in reader app which provides robust functionality for free. Either option allows you to copy and paste text from PDF files into other documents. 

    Convert Entire Documents through Online Converters

    One easy way to unlock a PDF document’s restrictions is to convert the entire file into a workable Word document. Simply upload your file and choose the “Word” option to export a fully editable Word document.  

    The process of converting a PDF into a Word file isn’t always perfect. Formatting errors may occur depending on the original PDF’s layout complexity. However, the exported Word file retains most fonts, lists, and paragraph breaks so you can copy and paste any garbled text into a new document. 

    Online PDF to Word converters use advanced OCR and layout analysis to lift text and images from PDFs. For documents with scanned pages, multi-column articles, or embedded tables, an online converter can save hours of reformatting work.

    Select Just the Text You Need

    Rather than convert the entire document, online PDF to Word converters let you select and copy text snippets into the clipboard which can then be pasted into Word or another editor. For optimum accuracy, choose a small passage in a common font without columns, images, or tables. 

    Install browser extensions from your converter tool of choice for rapid access to PDF selection tools while viewing files online.

    Edit Scanned Documents with OCR

    Typical text extraction relies on actual text elements within the PDF rather than just an image of text, even if that image is clear and legible. By running Optical Character Recognition (OCR) on scanned documents, image-based PDF files can also be unlocked and searched.  

    Adobe Acrobat’s integrated OCR capability automatically activates when you use the program’s text selection tools. Many conversion sites also attempt OCR when converting to Word. For scanned documents with non-standard formatting like columns or background images, a dedicated OCR tool may be needed for accurate text extraction. 

    Fill Out and Save PDF Forms Digitally    

    Retyping all the information entered manually on a printed PDF form defeats the point of digital document convenience. Use the “Fill & Sign” tool in Acrobat Reader or Acrobat DC to enter information directly into the digital form. The data will remain intact if more fields need completion later.  

    Don’t have the necessary app to fill in forms digitally? Print to “Microsoft Print to PDF” which will generate a fillable duplicate of your form. Data entered can then be saved digitally for paper-free workflows. 

    For frequently used forms, create template copies with your standard entries prefilled to further minimize retyping each entry.

    Edit a Scanned Document on Mobile  

    The capabilities mentioned above also work on smartphone and tablet apps. For editing non-fillable document scans taken with your mobile device’s camera, Adobe Scan’s integrated OCR makes text instantly recognizable for highlighting and copying into other apps. Microsoft Office Lens offers similar functionality.   

    Having these apps on your mobile device helps enable paperless workflows. Sign and fill out forms or make revisions right on scanned copies wherever you are. Sync edited documents across devices through cloud storage services for convenient access to up-to-date paperwork. 

    Add Comments for Changes    

    For editing PDF documents that cannot altered directly, use the commenting tools in PDF readers and editors to place digital stickie notes. The highlighted markup text boxes can provide editing instructions, notes, and hyperlinks without changing the actual document content which may be privileged or secured.    

    The comments also indicate where imported PDF text might need reformatting in the Word document produced by your chosen PDF to Word converter. Don’t forget to remove sensitive sticky notes before distribution! 

    Replace Pages in a PDF

    Rather than convert the whole file, you may only need to swap in an updated page. With Acrobat DC, right click the page thumbnail and select “Replace” to overwrite it with a new PDF page exported separately from Word or another program. Replacing instead of inserting avoids messing up page numbers in forms and indexed documents like contracts.   

    When generating the revised insert page, modify document properties like paper size and margins to match the original PDF for seamless integration in the file.

    Redact Confidential Information Permanently

    PDF redaction permanently excises content, unlike simply covering text with a black mark which can later be revealed. Some apps offer redaction features natively or through plugins, while standalone software like Adobe Acrobat also locks down document security. Perfected redactions are essential for safely sharing documents containing sensitive information.     

    Remember to fully redact metadata stored in PDF files in addition to visible text and images. This hidden data can also reveal confidential details unless scrubbed by redaction tools. 

    Compress Files After Changes 

    Editing, whether through full document conversion or replacements, often increases the file size. Use a PDF compressor to reduce uploads for email attachments and downloads from websites. Compacting also speeds up page loading and rendering for smoother digital viewing.

    Maintain reasonable quality levels when applying compression to avoid overly degraded images or loss of critical formatting information, especially in files with legal document integrity seals.  

    While working with PDFs has often meant clunky text block selections and losing formatting, modern software makes converting entire PDF documents or partial excerpts into editable Word files simple. Using online converters or the latest version of Acrobat, you can quickly unlock restrictions to copy and paste text from PDFs into Word or similar word processors. OCR capability also provides editing access for text embedded in scanned documents.

    Tina Olivero

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