Editing Scanned PDFs in Acrobat XI or DC

There are two options for editing scanned PDFs in Acrobat.  Selecting an approach will depend on the extent of your edits.

Using Acrobat for Small Edits

If your edits are minimal – correcting a word here or there – Acrobat’s built-in content editing will do the job.

The first step is to make a copy of the document you want to edit.  This will protect the original, and if anything goes awry, you can start over.

Directions for Acrobat XI

  • Open the copy of your document in Acrobat.
  • Select Tools (top, right corner of the program).
  • This exposes the tools pane:

Tools pane

  • Choose ► Content Editing.
  • Select Edit Text & Images.

edit text and images

  • Select the text you want to edit.
  • Edit the text by doing one of the following:
    • Select a font, font size, or other formatting options under Format in the right hand pane.
    • You can also use the advanced format options, such as line spacing, character spacing, horizontal scaling, stroke width, and color.

font box dc

  • Click outside the selection to deselect it and start over.
  • When done editing, resave the file with your changes.

Directions for Acrobat DC

  • Open the copy of your document in Acrobat.
  • Choose Tools > Edit PDF > Edit.

Edit box

  • Select the text you want to edit.
  • Edit the text by doing one of the following:
    • Select a font, font size, or other formatting options under Format in the right hand pane.
    • You can also use the advanced format options, such as line spacing, character spacing, horizontal scaling, stroke width, and color.

font box dc

  • Click outside the selection to deselect it and start over.
  • When done editing, resave the file with your changes.

Looking at Your PDF in Content Editing Mode

When you are editing a PDF in Acrobat, your text will look like the image below – Acrobat surrounds each segment (headings, subheadings, paragraphs, numbers, and footer) with a text box.  Each text box must be edited separately.

page

Problems You Might Encounter Using Acrobat’s Content Editor

Making small edits with Acrobat works well because document formatting is rarely affected.  Making extensive edits can be a nightmare.  Here are some of the problems you might run into trying to edit a PDF in Acrobat:

  • Inserted text doesn’t match the font style in the document.  If the document font isn’t in your system there is nothing you can do about the mismatch.  However, before you give up, check the list of available fonts in Acrobat. Matching the document font may be as easy as changing the default font style and size in Acrobat’s Content Editing box.
  • Edits cause the text boxes to shrink or grow in undesirable ways, affecting formatting.  [Tips on how to fix this appear below.]
  • PDF can’t be edited/error messages appear. This occurs when your PDF does not have “recognizable” or “renderable” text – meaning it hasn’t been OCR’d yet.  When a PDF is created directly from a software application [like Word, WordPerfect, or another program], the resulting PDF file automatically has “recognizable” or “renderable” text.  This attribute makes the PDF searchable and editable.  If a PDF is created by scanning, it must be OCR’d before editing so the text is “recognizable.” To OCR a PDF using Acrobat XI, see this tutorial.  To OCR a PDF using Acrobat DC, follow this link. Running text recognition (OCRing) a scanned PDF isn’t a big deal, but it is one more step in the process of using Acrobat as a content editor.

Addressing Text Box Issues

You can fix issues with text boxes by understanding how they work.

When you click inside a text box, Acrobat places handles around the box.  The handles look like solid squares: ■  Here is an example:

example of a text box

You can grab any handle (solid square) by clicking it with your mouse.  Grabbing one of the handles allows you to make the box taller, shorter, wider, or narrower.   I can shrink the text box in the last example and make it narrower and taller like this:

shrunken text box

This is important, because as I said, if you delete or insert too much text, the formatting of your document will be affected.  Therefore, you need to master the skill of manipulating text boxes or your text edits won’t look right.

Using Word’s Editing Power for PDFs

If you have more than a few edits, consider saving the PDF as a Word document.  You’ll have more control over the editing, and will likely save yourself some frustration.

Saving a PDF as a Word Document in Acrobat XI

  • Open the document in Acrobat.
  • Select File, Save as Other … ►.
  • Choose Microsoft Word, then select “Word Document” if you have Word 2007 or later or “Word 97-2003” if you have an earlier version of Word.
  • Give the document a name.
  • Browse to a location where you want to save the document.
  • Select Save.
  • Open the document in Word and start editing.

Saving a PDF as a Word Document in Acrobat DC

  • Open the document in Acrobat.
  • Choose File > Export To > Microsoft Word, then select “Word Document” if you have Word 2007 later or “Word 97-2003” if you have an earlier version of Word.
  • Click Export. The Export dialog box is displayed.
  • In the Export dialog box, give the document a name and browse to the location where you want to save the file.
  • Click Save to export the PDF.
  • Open the document in Word and start editing.

Converting Your Edited Word Document Back to PDF

To save a PDF of the edited Word document:

  • Click on the Microsoft Office Button.
  • Choose Print ► Print.
  • In the printer list, click the down arrow and choose the “Adobe PDF” printer:

pdf printer

  • Click OK.

Alternatively, you can save a PDF of the edited Word document using File, Save As:

  • Click on the Microsoft Office Button, choose Save As ►and select PDF or XPS.
  • Give the document a name.
  • Browse to the location where you want to save the document.
  • Select Save.

Conclusion

Changing a word or two?  Use Content Editing in Acrobat.  To revise entire sentences or paragraphs, convert the PDF to Word first (or obtain a copy of the document in its native application).  For a video demo of how text editing is done in Acrobat, watch this tutorial.

All Rights Reserved 2016. Beverly Michaelis

One thought on “Editing Scanned PDFs in Acrobat XI or DC

  1. Pingback: The Year in Review – Top Posts in 2015 | Oregon Law Practice Management

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