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If you’ve ever tried to edit a portable document format or PDF file, you’ve almost certainly realized that it’s a lot more trouble than editing a Microsoft Office document. This is because the PDF format was never designed to be edited. When Adobe introduced the PDF specification in 1993, the whole idea was that you could work with PDF documents on screen the same way you work with paper documents. The PDF was meant to be a virtual printout, the equivalent of a hard copy of the screen. Like any paper copy, it was not intended to be changed.
How To Make Edits On A Pdf
It wasn’t long before users wanted to fix bugs, replace old product logos with new ones, and even change fonts and layouts in PDF files. So productivity software makers are starting to offer PDF editing tools. Even with these tools, you still can’t edit a PDF with the ease and flexibility of, say, a Word document or Google Doc, and you probably never will. Don’t worry though. you
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The PDF format was invented before everyone started using web browsers and is based on the printed page. This means you can’t add a few lines of text in the middle of the first page, for example, and the rest of the text has to go to the second page, just like in a word processor. Instead, you should change the font size on the front page or resize the box containing the text. If you want to add more text than will fit on the page, we offer some tips in the next section, but don’t expect perfect results.
Although many applications call themselves PDF editors, they cannot edit the text and graphics in a PDF file. They only allow you to add comments to the PDF file: Post-it-style notes, or lines and text boxes that appear in an overlay over the actual content of the PDF. When you add a comment to a PDF, it’s like putting a piece of paper under glass and writing comments on the glass. You can’t make permanent changes to the text, such as removing sensitive data, and anyone using a free PDF viewer like Adobe Acrobat Reader (Opens in a new window) or macOS Preview can edit or remove comments you’ve made. With that in mind, at the end of this article we outline a solution to permanently bake comments into a PDF file.
A real PDF editor allows you to change, move, delete, and add real content to a PDF in a way that won’t allow anyone else to change your changes, unless they’re using a real PDF editor. You can use an expensive program like Adobe Acrobat DC (Opens in a new window) ($12.99/month) with special features for matching fonts to scanned images, but for many purposes, you can get good results from cheaper editors. 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 ) are like (macOS or Windows). The basic techniques are the same in all PDF editors.
You can also find many websites that allow you to upload your PDF files and edit them in your browser for free. Maybe you don’t care about security as much as I do, but I’m not willing to put my documents on websites that I don’t know offer mysteriously free services in exchange for collecting my data.
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Adobe Acrobat DC, the leading PDF editor, offers a comprehensive interface with fine-grained controls for editing text and images.
With the PDF open in the Acrobat window, select Edit PDF from the Tools menu. Then blue boxes appear around each PDF element – text or graphics. To correct a text error, click in the text box and start typing. Below is an example of using Acrobat DC to change text in a header.
With a PDF open in the app, click Edit on the Home toolbar, then choose the type of content you want to edit: full page, text, images, or shapes.
Below is an example of what it looks like to replace or change images in a PDF using the PDF-XChange Editor.
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Note that the default option allows text elements to be edited as blocks. If you turn this setting off, the app will only allow you to change blocks with few words, and may have inappropriate spacing between words.
Click on the text and make changes. From the gear icon in the lower left corner, you can choose Properties Panel to get a menu of font and paragraph alignment options, but you won’t find the adjustment controls that Acrobat offers.
A subtle problem with this type of editing involves fonts. If the font used in the original PDF is not also installed on your system, the PDF editor may use a different font when you insert or modify text. Acrobat DC is smart enough to use a similar font, but a keen reader will see the difference, perhaps considering that you’ve changed the original PDF.
Most other PDF editors do a worse job of matching fonts, and many don’t go around trying to match the surrounding font when entering text. The only app that did excellent font matching was PDF Expert (Opens in a new window) for macOS (and iOS) ($79.99). When I inserted the text into a PDF, the application used the font already embedded in the PDF file, so the result is perfect and impossible to detect my changes.
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The only Windows-based PDF editors that come close to Apple’s PDF Expert are EaseUS PDF Editor ($79) and PDFelement 8 ($69.99). Like PDF Expert, both of these apps try to use the font already embedded in the PDF when you change or insert text, but in at least one PDF I tried, when I tried to insert text between regular words, both apps had the formatting attached. text in lowercase and didn’t give me menu options that would allow me to select lowercase. It could have been worse. For example, when I tried to add text to the same file in Qoppa Software’s PDF Studio Pro 2021 (Opens in a new window), it converted the entire page to lowercase. You may need to experiment to find the app that works best for you.
No matter which PDF editor you use, don’t expect the same ease of use as you would with a word processor. Some PDF editing applications claim to let you edit as easily as you can in Microsoft Word. It’s not true. (You need to convert your PDF to a word processing file to edit it again, more on that in a moment.) If you add a word or two that makes the current paragraph a line longer, you’re likely to overlap the next paragraph. You’ll need to move the paragraph and paragraph below what you’re working on, and there may not be enough room on the page to accommodate your changes. When you edit a line in a justified (full-width) paragraph, the text will likely wrap to the left, leaving a blank space between the end of the line and the right margin. You can fix this by right-clicking on the line, choosing Paragraph from the context menu, and setting the alignment to Justified.
Inserting quotes can also cause formatting problems. PDF editors don’t understand smart quotes (known as curly quotes or backslashes) the way word processors do, so they insert proper typewriter-style quotes instead. To get smart quotes, you need to copy and paste a quote in the style you want from somewhere else in the same PDF or another source, such as the web or a Word document.
In any full-featured PDF editing application, you can resize text boxes and resize text to fit the new size, but remember that you can’t move text from page to page. When you need to make major changes to 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 changes, and then export the edited document as a new PDF. However, it only works with some PDF file types, and the format won’t be exactly the same as the original document, but it can be close enough.
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Adobe Acrobat DC offers the most advanced PDF editing on the planet. Like all PDF editors, Acrobat works well with PDF files created by applications such as Word and Excel. Also, when you add or edit text in a PDF, PDF editors can match the font of the surrounding text because that font is installed on your Windows system.
Acrobat, however, does an amazing feat that no other application does
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