How to Edit a PDF

Contrary to popular belief, there are a few ways to edit a PDF file. Sure, PDFs might seem like a rigid document, but if you have the right software, it’s easy to tweak a page’s text and images. Below, we’ve shared three practical tools for fast PDF editing, with simple steps to get you started.


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Adobe Acrobat

  1. Open the Software: Though Adobe Acrobat Reader is free, you can’t edit PDFs using this entry-level version. Luckily, Acrobat is well worth the price, allowing you to edit pages, legally sign digital documents, add audio and video, and much more. 
  2. Turn On Advanced Editing: Via the menu bar, open the PDF that you want to edit. Then, click on the “Tools” button in the top right corner, followed by “Advanced Editing” and “Show Advanced Editing Toolbar”. Now, you’ll have access to a sidebar that lets you edit a wide variety of content. 
  3. Editing Page Order: First, you’ll need to gain access to thumbnails of every page, by clicking “View”, “Navigation Panels”, and then “Pages”. Once the thumbnails are on screen, simply change the order by dragging them around with your cursor.
  4. Editing Images: Once your Advanced Editing Toolbar is on screen, click the “Touch Up Objects” button, select the image you want to edit, and then choose “Edit Image”. From there, your default image editing software (such as Photoshop or Preview) will open, allowing you to edit the image and then immediately update the PDF.
  5. Editing Text: Finally, the Advanced Editing Toolbar also has a feature called “Touch Up Text Editing”, which allows you to edit any textbox by simply clicking on it. No whiteout necessary. 

Alternative Software

  1. Find a Free Program: If Acrobat is out of your budget, don’t worry — there are a handful of free PDF editing programs online. Start by searching “free PDF editor” for your specific operating system. Inkscape, PDF-XChange Viewer, and PDFescape are all great options. The latter provides web-based editing, so you don’t even need to download software.  
  2. Open File, and Edit: Once you’ve figured out which application to use, open your PDF file via the menu bar. Every program will have a unique interface, but you should be able to tweak content by selecting an “Edit” button or clicking directly on the page. For web-based options like PDFescape, all of the editing will take place in the browser.

Converting to Word

  1. Find Conversion Software: When in doubt, you can always convert a PDF file to Word (.doc or .docx), take care of the editing, and then revert it back to PDF format. There are a number of free conversion services online, but make sure to find one that supports batch files and selected pages. This will provide more flexibility and reduce formatting errors when editing. 
  2. Import and Convert: Choose which file you’d like to import to the conversion website, and then click on “Convert”. Most of these services will allow you to upload multiple PDF files at once, which can be handy when editing lots of paperwork.
  3. Edit in Word: Once the conversion is finished, you’ll be able to access the new Word file via email or directly on the site. Open Microsoft Word, take care of your edits, and then click “Save”.
  4. Change Back to PDF: Finally, you’ll need to find a similar web service that converts Word documents back to PDF format. However, if you have a newer copy of Word, you can also save a PDF version by clicking “Save As” and then choosing “PDF” from a pull-down list of file formats.
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