Converting PDF to Word Documents

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated May 30, 2013)

One of the most common ways of disseminating information is through PDF files. PDF, which stands for Portable Document Format, is the file format used by Adobe Acrobat. Many people receive information in PDF format, but then want to transfer that information to a Word document so they can work with it.

There are a couple of ways that you can get text from a PDF file to a Word document. Exactly which ones you can use depends on how the PDF file is protected. If the file is not protected, try these steps:

  1. Open the PDF document and display the page that contains the text you want to copy to Word.
  2. Click the Text tool on the toolbar.
  3. Click and drag to select the text you want to copy, or (if you want to select all the text) click once in the text area and press Ctrl+A.
  4. Press Ctrl+C to copy the selected text to the Clipboard.
  5. Switch to your Word document.
  6. Press Ctrl+V to paste the contents of the Clipboard into your document.

This transfers the text to your Word document. It is only the plain, unformatted text, but you can now work with it in Word.

If you have Adobe Acrobat 7 (or a later version) you can actually export a PDF document in either RTF or Word document format. (This won't work with Adobe Reader; you must have the full version of Acrobat.) Simply load the PDF and choose File | Save As. In the dialog box, choose Word document as the Save As Type. When you click Save, the document file is created.

If the PDF file is protected (authors can set security settings on PDF files so they are protected), then you won't be able to use either of the foregoing solutions. Instead, you will need to look to a third-party solution.

If you already have a scanner and OCR software, you can print the PDF file, then scan the document and use the OCR software to convert it to a Word document. One company has taken the OCR process a step further, allowing you to skip the scanning and instead convert directly from PDF. If you are interested in this product, it is called PDF Transformer, from ABBYY software:

One thing that you should be aware of is that when you convert your PDF file to a Word document, that doesn't mean that the Word document will look like the original PDF looks. In most cases, the Word document will need a lot of formatting to make it look the way you want. The bottom line? You should only focus on getting the content from the PDF to Word, and not on the formatting; you can always do the formatting later.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (96) applies to Microsoft Word 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He  is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...


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