Question of the Month – May

Question: What’s the best way to edit PDF files?

For many people, PDFs remain the best way to share documents. However, they aren’t always the easiest things to edit, which can be somewhat frustrating. Nevertheless, there are a number of ways this can be done.

Firstly, and most obviously, you can use Adobe Acrobat Pro: Simply opening a PDF with this software gives you all the edit options that you would expect in a word processing or publishing program. However, unlike the Acrobat reader, there is no free version available and the expense may not seem worth it to casual users.

Simply opening a PDF document with Microsoft Word will give you an editable version of your document, however, the format and layout may change and you might find there’s an awful lot of heavy lifting to do to get it back into shape—especially the more complex the document is.

If you’re using a Mac, when you open a PDF document using Preview, you’ll find the Tools menu offers you the opportunity to annotate the PDF by inserting a text box that can be dragged anywhere you like in the document. However, you can only annotate, you can’t actually edit text in any meaningful way, although there are options for changing size, color, and orientation.

A similar situation exists with Adobe’s own Acrobat Reader, the free software most people use to read PDFs. This allows you to add annotations and signatures, however, once again, you won’t be able to directly edit the text of the document.

Finally, there are numerous online paid for and free resources that allow you to upload a PDF, edit it, and download the finished version. Bear in mind that not all of these work perfectly, and make sure you use a trusted provider. Otherwise, you might get your file returned with some interesting malware or viruses attached. Always scan the returned document with your antivirus software before opening.