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How To Edit A PDF File Easily

If you've ever tried to edit a Portable Document File, or PDF, you've almost certainly discovered that it's a lot more trouble than editing a Microsoft Office document. That's because the PDF format was never designed to be edited at all. When Adobe introduced the PDF spec back in 1993, the whole idea was that you could work with PDF documents on screen the same way you worked with documents on paper. A PDF was supposed to be a virtual printout, the on-screen equivalent of hard copy. Like any printed hard copy, it wasn't intended to be changed.

How To Edit A PDF File Easily

It didn't take long before users wanted to correct typos, replace old product logos with new ones, and even change fonts and layouts in their PDFs. Thus, productivity software makers started providing PDF editing tools. Even with these tools, you still can't edit a PDF with the same ease and flexibility as say, a Word document or Google Doc, and you probably never will. Don't worry, though. You can edit PDFs, and we tell you how.

A true PDF editor lets you change, move, delete, and add actual content to the PDF, in a way that won't let anyone else change your edits unless they also use a true PDF editor. You can use a high-priced one like Adobe Acrobat DC(Opens in a new window) ($12.99 per month), with unique features for matching fonts on scanned images, but for many purposes, you can get good results from less expensive editors such as EaseUS PDF Editor(Opens in a new window), PDF-Xchange Editor(Opens in a new window) (Windows), Nitro's PDFPen(Opens in a new window) (macOS), or Wondershare PDFelement 8(Opens in a new window) (macOS or Windows). The basic techniques are the same in all PDF editors.

You can also find plenty of web sites that offer to let you upload your PDF files and edit them in your browser without paying anything. Maybe you don't care about security as much as I do, but I'm not ready to upload my documents to web sites that I know nothing about, and that mysteriously offer free services in exchange for harvesting my data.

Notice the default option lets you edit text elements as blocks. If you turn this setting off, the app will only let you modify blocks of a few words, and you may end up with awkward-looking spacing between words.

One subtle problem with this kind of editing involves fonts. If the font used in the original PDF isn't also installed on your system, the PDF editor may use a different font when you insert or change text. Acrobat DC is smart enough to use a similar font, but a sharp-eyed reader will see the difference, perhaps picking up on the fact that you changed the original PDF.

Most other PDF editors do a worse job of font-matching, and many don't bother even trying to match the surrounding font when inserting text. The only app I found that did a perfect job of font-matching was the macOS (and iOS) PDF Expert(Opens in a new window) ($79.99). When I inserted text in a PDF, the app used the font already embedded in the PDF file so the result looks seamless, and it's impossible to detect my changes.

The only Windows-based PDF editors I've found that came close to the Apple-only PDF Expert are EaseUS PDF Editor ($79) and PDFelement 8 ($69.99). Like PDF Expert, these two apps try to use the font already embedded in the PDF when you change or insert text, but in at least one PDF that I tested, when I tried to insert text between ordinary lower-case words, both apps formatted the added text in small capitals and didn't provide menu options that would let me choose lower-case instead. It could have been worse. For example, when I tried adding text to the same file in Qoppa Software's PDF Studio Pro 2021(Opens in a new window), it converted the entire page to small caps. You may need to experiment to find the app that works best for you.

Inserting a quotation mark can also cause formatting troubles. PDF editors don't understand smart quotes (also known as curly quotes, or slanted typographic quotation marks) the way word-processors do, so they insert straight, typewriter-style quote marks instead. To get smart quotes, you need to copy and paste a quotation mark in the style you want from elsewhere in the same PDF or another source, such as the web or a Word document.

In any full-featured PDF editing app, you can resize text boxes and make the text reflow to match the new size, but remember that you can't make text reflow from one page to the next. When you need to make large-scale changes in a PDF file, the best solution is to convert it to a word processing document. The easiest way is to import the PDF into Microsoft Word or any other advanced word-processor, make your edits, and then export the edited document as a new PDF. It only works with certain kinds of PDFs, however, and the formatting won't be exactly the same as the original document but it may be close enough.

Adobe Acrobat DC offers the most advanced PDF editing on the planet. Like all PDF editors, Acrobat works well with PDFs created by apps like Word and Excel. Further, when you add or edit text on a PDF, PDF editors can match the font of the surrounding text, since that font is installed on your Windows system.

Acrobat, however, performs one amazing feat that no other app even approaches. If you use Acrobat to edit an image scanned from an old book or magazine that used a hot-metal font that hasn't existed for a hundred years, Acrobat lets you edit the text in the scanned image using that same ancient font. It does this trick by performing an optical character recognition (OCR) process on the image and constructing a font from the characters it finds. When you edit the text in the PDF, Acrobat uses this newly constructed font to match the surrounding text. In the image below, we're adding the "A" to the heading "A Tea Party." Acrobat uses the same letter "A" that appears elsewhere in the header.

In Acrobat Reader, make your comments (such as lines, text boxes, and highlights) on the PDF file, and then print the PDF to the BullZip PDF Printer Driver. The resulting PDF will have searchable text, just like the original, but the comments will be baked into the PDF, and not easily removable.

On macOS, open the PDF in Preview and make all your comments. From the Print menu, click the PDF button, and then Save as Postscript. Next, open that .PS file in Preview and export it again to PDF format. The resulting PDF will be searchable, but the comments will be baked in.

Many other utilities let you edit PDFs, but they're beyond the scope of this article. For more help with PDFs, we can show you how to sign PDFs on a Mac, how to sign PDFs using Acrobat Reader, and how to combine PDFs into one file.

Select the files that you want to apply the Make Accessible action to. By default, the action runs on the document that's currently open. Select Add Files to select additional files or a folder to run the action on.

A good way to check the accessibility of a document is to use tools that your readers will use. Even if you do not have access to those tools, Adobe Acrobat provides an automated way to check the accessibility of a PDF file. The Full Check/Accessibility Check feature in Acrobat checks a PDF for many of the characteristics of accessible PDFs. You can choose which accessibility problems to look for and how you want the results reported.

In the Report Options section, select options for how you want to view the results. You can save the results as an HTML file on your system, or attach the results file to the document itself.

A document author can specify that no part of an accessible PDF is to be copied, printed, extracted, commented on, or edited. This setting could interfere with a screen reader's ability to read the document, because screen readers must be able to copy or extract the document's text to convert it to speech.

If your assistive technology product is registered with Adobe as a Trusted Agent, you can read PDFs that might be inaccessible to another assistive technology product. Acrobat recognizes when a screen reader or other product is a Trusted Agent and overrides security settings that would typically limit access to the content for accessibility purposes. However, the security settings remain in effect for all other purposes, such as to prevent printing, copying, extracting, commenting, or editing text.

This rule checks whether all annotations are tagged. Make sure that annotations such as comments and editorial marks (such as insert and highlight) are either included in the Tags tree or marked as artifacts.

In an accessible PDF, all form fields are tagged and are a part of the document structure. In addition, you can use the tool tip form filed property to provide the user with information or to provide instructions.

Learn how quick and easy it is to edit text and images in PDF documents with Adobe Acrobat on your Windows or Mac desktop. You can also edit PDF files on iOS and Android tablets with an Acrobat Pro subscription.

Click an image, then use the options in the Objects section in the right pane to flip, crop, align, rotate, or arrange the image. In the Bodea Brochure.pdf, try flipping the image of the office workers horizontally by clicking the image and then selecting the Flip Horizontal option in the Objects section. Learn more about editing images in PDFs.

Select File > Save or File > Save As to save your edited file. You can also convert PDF files to JPG format, Microsoft Word documents, Excel files, and PowerPoint presentations if you prefer to edit in Microsoft Office.

When you add text in a PDF, by default Acrobat picks nearby font attributes for the new text. Similarly, when you edit existing text in a PDF and the font is not available on the system, by default the font fall-backs to a specific font in a particular script. For example, font fall-backs to Minion Pro in roman script fonts. This default behavior can lead to fonts with an inconsistent appearance in a PDF document. To make it consistent throughout all the PDFs, you can choose a specific font for both adding text and editing text using the Font Options under the Content Editing preferences.

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