It seems like it will take a very long time to go through the entire document and edit and reformat the large amounts of text. Does anyone know of a good workaround for this kind of situation, where lines of text are separated into several boxes and options such as going to Properties to changes the font aren't useable to change the font of paragraphs etc?

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The only other option I know of is to use the Edit Page/Edit Objects Touch-ups that send me to Illustrator where I have to remove several or potentially dozens of Clip Groups, then use a combine text frames script to get a normal line of editable text. Both ways are huge time wasters so I'm sure theres better ways to work with a lot of text in PDF files but I'm not familiar with what they are.


  • 1
    Hm. I consider editing text in a PDF a workaround on its own. (One to be avoided.)
    – Jongware
    Oct 29, 2016 at 20:55
  • I agree. Thats why I wanted some suggestions on how to get around it.
    – alxmntrvl
    Oct 30, 2016 at 21:31

3 Answers 3


Recently discontinued, but still available Serif PagePlus X9 has quite good selection of PDF importing options. Special care has been taken to retain the positions and the editability of the texts. Try it, its trial costs no money.

Addendum: User Scribblemacher has some heavy notes in his answer. He is right. If you really have to edit a PDF (=import+edit+save as PDF), you should never let anybody to have a possiblity to think that this is the original PDF. Rename it and add some data or metadata that shows it's derivativeness.

To keep quality high, use the most original available format as the base for your enhacements and let the creator of the original to know that you want to do some edits.


Unfortunately, the correct answer to this problem is don't edit PDFs.

Editing text in a PDF is a last resort. You should only edit PDF text if you don't have the source file and it's a small, one-time change (meaning it is significantly faster to just make the edit instead of tracking down the person or location of the original file).

If you have the original file, always update the source file and re-export the PDF. This way, your source file does not become out-of-date. This also avoids weird things that can happen when trying to directly edit PDF text, like the examples you provided in your question.

If you do not have the original file, stop and ask yourself the following:

  • Am I really responsible for making this change, or should I contact the person that made it? (It should be the responsibility of the party that created it. Contact that person and ask them to make the change and re-export)
  • Am I expected to maintain and make future changes to this file? (If yes, and you really can't get the source file, strongly consider re-creating it—you'll save time and produce better work in the long run. There are many tools and techniques for doing this, and would be worth a separate question)
  • Was this file created by a program? (If yes, consider requesting that the program be updated—never do manual work that a computer can do for you)

In most of these case, you should not edit the PDF, but rather attempt to update the source. Manually editing text in a PDF should only be done when you do not have the original file and you have no other options. It is a last resort.

  • I guess I should have made it clear that I didn't have the source file, so unfortunately had to recreate a contract agreement + terms using OCR to be able to grab the text, copy/paste (using Copy Paste'em so at least could store the copied info and not go back and forth) & then sift through & edit the text in InDesign to make sure all the text that got jumbled by the OCR was OK. That seemed like the best option because I was on the clock. But if you have any suggestions for situations like that where you have to recreate an entire document sans source file I would love to hear it!
    – alxmntrvl
    Dec 30, 2016 at 14:32

It fully depends on a quality of your PDF document. If you've got a Pro version of Adobe Acrobat and the document was saved with proper settings (without minimizing a document's size) you can change the content directly in Acrobat Pro.

  • Yes still it seems the text editing controls are very limited, unless maybe using third party stuff like PitStop
    – alxmntrvl
    Oct 30, 2016 at 21:32

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