Editing a .pdf can be tricky. Though it’s a great way to quickly compile and publish information, it isn’t a file format you can edit out of the box. Unlike a Microsoft Office document, a .pdf in’t designed for editing, which is why you need the right tools to tweak the content.
A quick search on the internet will show you many editing options for .pdf documents. Some are quite expensive, but the cheap or free editors only offer basic features and don’t convert files accurately. Many can’t edit the text or graphics in a .pdf, but they allow you to add comments using sticky note-style notes or text boxes and lines above the contents of the file.
Some editors work in your browser, but they don’t have as many features as their desktop counterparts. Plus, they expose your files to the internet, which may be a concern, especially if they contain confidential or sensitive content. You can use a VPN to encrypt your connection for extra security, though.
A good .pdf editor will allow you to move, change, delete and add content to the document. It’ll also keep your edits intact so that no one else can change them unless they have an equally good tool.
The basic techniques are similar in all .pdf editors, but their interfaces are different. You can process the same .pdf document in more than one tool, though. For example, you can use one to edit the text and another one to edit forms, update images or remove pages.
How to Edit a PDF
By default, .pdf documents open in Adobe Acrobat. If you want to edit the file directly from Acrobat program, here’s how to do it:
- Open Adobe Acrobat
- Select “file,” then “open…”
- Select your .pdf file from the document window and click “open”
- In the right-hand toolbar, click “edit PDF.” With Acrobat, you can edit, replace or add text, correct typos, adjust alignments, change fonts and typeface sizes, add superscripts or subscripts and resize paragraphs or text
- Find the text you want to edit and place your cursor on it
- At the top of the right-hand toolbar, click “format” to edit your text. For images, place the cursor on the image you want to edit and click the “objects” option in the right-hand toolbar
Note: Those steps apply to Acrobat X and XI. Older Acrobat products require you to use the “tools” option at the upper right side of your navigation bar, then select “edit text & images.”
The Best PDF Editors
We’re going to give you three options to use to edit .pdf documents when you need to make important changes, and we’ll go over them one by one, starting with Adobe Acrobat.
Adobe Acrobat DC
Adobe Acrobat DC is a go-to .pdf editor. You can add a paragraph with a click or tap, fix typos, rearrange pages or even crop or swap photos.
It has full-page editing tools that adjust paragraphs automatically when you add text to a page and adjust the format when you add lines to bulleted lists. Its automatic spell check makes sure your edits are right, while the “find and replace” tool corrects every instance of a phrase or date you need to update.
Another nifty feature that no other app offers is the ability to match fonts on scanned images. It does that using optical character recognition and constructs a font from the characters it finds. That way, you can edit the text in scanned images using the same font, regardless of how old the font is.
Thanks to the Acrobat Reader mobile app, you can edit your .pdf from an iPad and enjoy the benefits of working remotely. A free seven-day trial is available if you want to try Acrobat DC’s powerful features, but make sure to cancel before it ends because you’ll get billed for it otherwise.
Though it’s expensive, Acrobat DC’s features are hard to beat. Adobe owns the market for photo editing, and if that interests you, our best photo editing software guide ranks the best choices. Still, you can get good results from cheaper options because the basic techniques are similar in all .pdf editors.
If you can’t afford Acrobat DC, you can use Microsoft Word to edit your .pdf file. If you own Microsoft Word 2013, 2016 or 2019, you can open your .pdf in the program and convert it into an editable Word document.
Once you’re done making changes, you can save the document as a .pdf file again.
How to Use a PDF Converter
A .pdf converter helps you convert .pdf files into different but editable formats so you can edit their contents. That means the document will no longer be a .pdf, but it’ll open in document editing programs, such as Microsoft Word.
Compared to using a .pdf editor, a converter is more comfortable and familiar and can save you hours of time and effort. The easiest way to change or extract text or images is by converting the .pdf into a Word document, then opening it with your preferred office software.
Several programs can do the job while preserving the original formatting. They’re not all the same, though, because some give more accurate results than others.
You may not be able to afford an Acrobat DC subscription and probably don’t have Microsoft Word 2013, 2016 or 2019. Online .pdf editors are always available, though, and some are free to use.
One of the best free .pdf converters is Smallpdf. Not only can it convert your .pdf file to a different, editable format, but it also allows you to add text or images to your document. Here are the steps you can take to use Smallpdf to edit your .pdf.
There are two ways to edit your .pdf document with Smallpdf: converting it into an editable Word document and then making your changes to it or editing the file online.
How to Use Smallpdf to Convert a PDF to a Word Document
Go to the Smallpdf website and select the type of conversion you’d like to make. In this case, click “PDF to Word.”
Upload the .pdf document you want to convert to Word.
Wait for the conversion process to complete.
You’ll get an alert that the file has been converted to a Word document. You can download the editable Word document, send it as a link via Gmail if you want to share it with others or save it in Dropbox or Google Drive for editing later.
Click the Word document to open it and make your changes.
Click “file,” then “save as…” and select PDF to convert the Word document back to a .pdf.
How to Use Smallpdf to Edit a PDF
You can use Smallpdf as an online .pdf editor if you don’t want to convert the .pdf to an editable format.
Open Smallpdf and select “edit PDF.”
Upload the .pdf document you want to edit.
A menu with different editing tools will appear at the top of the screen.
You can add text, images or shapes. It also allows you to draw different forms on the .pdf document.
Once you’re through with the changes you want, click the “finish” button at the bottom right side of your screen
Your edited document is now ready. You can download it, share it with others or save it in Dropbox or Google Drive
Editing a .pdf can be tricky, but it’s not impossible. With the right tools at your disposal, you can edit .pdf files as easily as Word documents, whether you need to make a few quick edits or further alterations.
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Adobe Acrobat DC is quite expensive, but it gets the job done. A .pdf editor, such as Smallpdf, will only offer basic editing features and won’t necessarily provide accurate file conversions. On the other hand, Microsoft Word is a cheaper, faster method that saves you the endless hassle of the other two options.
We’d love to hear your tips and recommendations on how to edit a .pdf. Share them with us in the comments. Thank you for reading.