editing any files, particularly editing pdf files

Date: 10 Mar, 2008
Posted by: admin
In: linux, open source & software

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Can I edit a pdf file

It’s not easy but …

My Dad asked me how to edit a pdf. Here’s my response:

It’s not quite a “forget it” situation but nearly … I suspect that your scanner / copier is embedding images files (JPEG or TIFF) in a pdf “wrapper”. It’s unlikely that it performs OCR (Optical Character Recognition) on them, so the text you see isn’t in the PDF, it’s just a picture – you can test this by using the text selection tool (looks like a capitla I) in Adobe Reader and clicking and dragging over some text … if it’s text you’ll be able to select it. Or, you could send me one of the files and I’ll have a look (if you’re not my dad, don’t do this!).


PDF Transformer and Finereader

The leader in this area is a company called ABBYY (sometimes their software is bundled with scanners, so have a check and see).

They have a couple of products that would suit:

ABBYY FineReader 8 (Professional Edition) (£100)

Finereader has a host of features including the ability to create editable files (eg MS Office documents or Star Office documents) from pdf files. It also allows minor edits (like spelling alterations) to be made to pdf files: Adobe Acrobat has this feature too, it’s about £250+. FineReader also allows standard OCR of documents that are either scanned or photographed (!)

Abbyy PDF Transformer 2 (Pro) (£60)

Converts from pdf to MS Office docs and vice-versa. Details of PDF Transformer are on the Abbyy website. There’s a 15 day trial of PDF Transformer that you could try to see if this is worth having.

If you decide to purchase I get a small amount from sales made after clicking the above product links (the names of the software) that go to the Amazon website.

Which to buy?

There are some FAQs giving details of how all the Abbyy software packages relate. There’s also an IT Reviews post from September 2006 that could help.

Other OCR and pdf-2-editable options

Well, Tucows lists some of them …


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