Whether you’ve downloaded forms for a company, legal paperwork, or a book, you’ve likely encountered the PDF file format at some point. This also means that you’re intimately familiar with the frustration of needing to edit the file but not having an easy way to do so.
The greatest irony of the PDF, or Portable Document Format, is that, despite its name, it’s not very user friendly. Despite years of advancements, PDFs remain stubbornly difficult to edit in anything other than the program that created them. So, what’s the easiest way to edit a PDF file? Our guide will illustrate some possibilities for you.
Don’t Edit a PDF At All
Not sure how to edit a PDF? One of the easiest solutions is not to edit a PDF file at all.
Simply put, since PDFs are notoriously incompatible with most editing software, and the best you’ll be able to do is form-filling, a common fix for this problem is to convert the PDF to a Microsoft Word, Pages, or OpenOffice document format. Once the file gets converted, you can edit it in your standard word processor at will.
Unsure how to convert pdf to word? There are a number of ways.
First, you can search online for a file conversion website. Either a generic one or one specifically designed for PDF to other document format conversion. Alternatively, you could download a conversion program or an app to your computer or phone to handle that process for you. Once the PDF is in a more readable format, then you may edit it as you please.
Edit in Adobe Acrobat
Of course, the easiest way to edit a PDF is in the program which likely originated it. That program typically being Adobe Acrobat. If you have the money to spend on Acrobat, then it will be your best bet for editing a PDF file with little to no trouble.
If you have Acrobat, then all you need to do to edit your PDF file is:
- Navigate to File->Open in the taskbar
- Select the PDF you wish to open
- Navigate to the right pane, then select Edit PDF
- Click on the section you wish to edit
- Acrobat will show you what you can change
- Be warned: if you want to use a font that isn’t installed in your system, but is embedded in the document, you won’t be able to edit anything
Of course, not everyone has the luxury of using Acrobat. So, what do you do then?
Edit in an Online or Third-Party Program
A quick Google search for “PDF editor” will reveal several options for editing PDF files, both downloadable and online-only. Tom’s Guide has a list of some of the best downloadable options on the market today if that’s your speed.
However, if you’d rather not download something third-party, or would rather not have to pay anything out of pocket, an online editor might be the way to go. Sites like Sejda, PDFSam Basic, and SmallPDF all come highly recommended by users.
The only thing you should bear in mind is that online or third-party programs may not offer the full functionality you need. Check to see what degree of edits each of these programs or sites allows before you use them.
Edit in a Word Processor
Some more recent word processors have the option to convert PDFs into editable formats built-in. We’ll discuss how to do this in two different ones below:
Editing a PDF in Microsoft Word
If you have Microsoft Word 2013 or newer, you have a built-in means of editing PDF documents. Or, rather, editing a document based on the original PDF. Since the two formats differ, spacing, form lines, or tables might end up lost or scrambled in the translation.
However, if you want to save time on a simple edit, and you have Word, all you need to do is:
- Open Microsoft Word
- Navigate to File->Open
- Select the PDF file you wish to open
- After this, a dialog box will pop up saying that Word will convert the PDF’s contents into a file type that it can display, while the original file remains unaffected
- Click OK on the dialog box, then make edits as normal
- When finished, make sure to Save As and select the PDF format
- This will let your changes overwrite the previous version of the file
Editing a PDF in Google Docs
Yet another of the many reasons to use Google Docs is its ability to edit PDFs. The process to edit a PDF in Google Docs is a touch more complex, but still relatively straightforward. If you want to edit your PDF file in Google Docs, you need to:
- Log into your Google Drive account
- Click New->File Upload
- Select your PDF File, then click Open
- Check Recent once the upload completes; your file will be there
- Right-click on the PDF, then select Open With->Google Docs
- This will create a Docs file you can edit as normal
- Once your edits are complete, re-download the file as a PDF
What’s Really the Easiest Way to Edit a PDF?
As we established above, the easiest way to edit a PDF would be to use Acrobat or the program in which the file got created. However, there are plenty of other options available if you look around. Whether you convert the file, use a word processor, use a website, or use Acrobat, you’ll be able to edit the PDF you need.
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