Sunday, August 1, 2021

How to edit PDFs in Microsoft Word

Working with PDFs has become as common as working with Word docs, but to get the full editing capabilities in Adobe Acrobat you must shell out $449 for the desktop Pro 2017 version, or almost $180 per year for a Pro DC subscription. While there are plenty of alternative PDF editors, the simplest solution might be a tool you already use: Microsoft Word 2016.

While previous versions of Word let you save a document as a PDF, Word 2016 allows you to open an Adobe formatted file, modify it and then re-save it back to the PDF format without using Acrobat. Microsoft calls this new feature PDF Reflow, and here we’ll show how it works with a file containing text and an image. 

Import, export, and edit PDFs in Microsoft Word

1. Open Word 2016. Select File > Open, then Browse to the folder that contains your PDFs. Select a file and click the Open button. Notice the selected file appears in the View window on the right. For this example, select a file with text and graphics.

01b select a pdf file and click open JD Sartain / IDG Worldwide

Select a pdf file and click open

2. Once you click Open, the following dialog box appears:

02b convert to word dialog box JD Sartain / IDG Worldwide

Convert to Word Dialog Box

NOTE: The message warns that large files take longer to load, and the layout in Word may not look exactly like the original PDF. That’s because margins, columns, tables, page breaks, footnotes, endnotes, frames, track changes, and special format options such as font effects (among other things) may differ between the original software used to create the PDF file (such as InDesign or Microsoft Publisher) and Word.

Microsoft suggests that text documents transfer and reflow better than documents heavily laden with charts and graphics, tags, bookmarks, footnotes, and/or track changes. These additional text blocks often land in the middle of paragraphs or tagged on to the end. Be aware of these limitations so you can plan for the outcome and make adjustments as needed.

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Many of the layout attributes, however, are compatible and transfer from the PDF directly into Word with no problems. For example, the following image is a copy of the original PDF we opened in Word 2016.

03b original pdf file in adobe acrobat JD Sartain / IDG Worldwide

Modify PDFs in Word

You can easily add new paragraphs and edit and delete data, and the document reformats automatically as you type. You can even remove, replace, or reposition the graphics, and the text-wrap feature re-wraps the paragraphs around the image at its new location. You can also change the page size, the margins, the line spacing, the font and font size plus all the font attributes, and much more.


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