Friday, May 8, 2020

Musings on the topic: "Should I Edit this PDF?"

This is discussion from the Acrobat forums, where I helped a user make PDF edits.
I'm editing a PDF. I don't have the original Word document. My client provided me with Word documents that were converted from the PDFs. I'm inserting into the main document. I have be 4 document that I am combining portions into my main document. te Word documents were so messed up that I chose to edit the main PDF. For the most part, things are going well, though much slower than if I were working in Word. I have one big issue, and a couple of smaller one. 

  1. When I paste into my main document, some letters are bold, though when I try to unbold them, they don't. Usually, it's a few letters in a paragraph. Other times, it's most of the letters in a paragraph.
  2. How to get a hanging indent on a numbered list. Or indenting an entire paragraph?
  3. Changing a number or letter in a ordered list?
  4. And, when converting to Word, is there a way to stop the text from being put in boxes. Even editing a PDF, everything is broken up into nonsensical boxes.
Thanks. Stephanie
Honestly, editing a PDF in Acrobat is rather unpredictable, to put it gently. Acrobat is great at a lot of things, but precise formatting is not one of those things. I reccomend you recreate the documents from scratch in a proper program, such as Word or InDesign, that will give you control over the formatting. But if you must just continue using Acrobat to edit the PDF, here are some things to try.

  1. When getting weird bolding issues, try pasting the text first into a plain text editor. Sometimes, I even paste into the subject line of an email (as it strips out the formatting). Then I copy and paste again into whatever program I needed the text for in the first place.
  2. Hanging indent: Make a separate text box for the numbered list. To indent an entire paragraph, use the Edit tool to resize the text box. It's worth noting that Acrobat doesn't treat text editing like a word processing program, where you can set precise measurements for things like indents, margins, tabs, etc., and expect to be able to use them document-wide. Think of editing in Acrobat more like each individual text box is a separate piece piece of paper, cut out and pasted onto the page. Each text box has absolutely nothing to do with the other text boxes.
  3. To change a bullet or number in an ordered list: sometimes, Acrobat treats the bullet or number as a separate text box. You'll be able to edit the text in the hanging indent, but it won't move with the main body of the text. Again, this is another reason to create the document from scratch in Word or InDesign because Acrobat will never behave the way you want or expect when trying to edit ordered lists.
  4. The boxes you're experiencing aren't form the document getting created in Word. That's just the way Acrobat handles text editing. It does it's best shot at figuring out which boxes go together. 
My final words of advice are to think of text editing in Acrobat like using white-out on a printed copy. If the change in your text is small enough that it can be done with white-out, then its appropriate to do that change in Acrobat. If the changes will require half the document to be whited-out, then Acrobat is not the place to make those changes. Go back to the original source document. If you don't have the original document, recreate it, or at least recreate just those pages (in your word processing tool of choice) and then replace those pages in the PDF.