Q&A – PDF Files

Question from Email:

Attached to this email is a Pdf file that I need to manipulate. Should I use the Adobe you gave me or another kind of software? I have already tried to convert the file to Microsoft Word…however, the file doesn’t change perfectly. How can this be done?


While Acrobat Pro does a good job of allowing you to manipulate PDF’s (page rearrange, add comments/markup, etc), you have to understand that PDF files were not designed to be changed themselves. Typically, you would use the “master file” that was created in Word, Excel, etc, to change the contents and generate a new PDF.
There is NO software out there that will allow really successful conversion to Word format. It is because of the way PDF files work. Sure, there are several types of software out there that claim to convert to Word (or other file types); however, in practice there will always be some loss of formatting and maybe even content.
Another important factor is whether you scanned the page or whether it is a “first generation PDF” created from Word or some other software. A scanned PDF always will be more difficult to convert to another format and stands more of a chance of format loss or content loss.
Typically I use Acrobat Pro or other software to OCR (optical character recognition) the file if scanned. Next I will try to use the conversion tools to save into Word format. If that doesn’t work well, then will I use copy/paste into a new document.
Yes, that means that usually you will need to actually recreate the document.