Editing a PDF file?

Subject: Editing a PDF file?
From: Geoff Hart <ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Sun, 19 Jun 2005 11:05:05 -0400

DaveC wondered: <<I want to edit a PDF file. Checking the file properties, there are no security (passwords, etc.) protections on the file. Using Acrobat Pro, I can highlight the text, but my only options are to add a notation of some kind. Is editing PDF content possible? >>

It's certainly possible; it's just a really bad idea, and for two important reasons. (There are probably others, but these are deal killers imho.)

First: As soon as you edit the PDF, you've created a difference between the original document used to generate the PDF and the PDF itself. These final corrections inevitably get lost or forgotten, meaning that the next time someone generates a PDF from the original document, they will recreate all the original errors you just fixed. Given that they'll assume that you, as editor, fixed the problems (or that they don't even pause to wonder whether there was any subsequent editing), they won't make time to check this assumption. If the errors are serious, rather than merely cosmetic, the consequences can be nasty.

Second, Acrobat offers only the most primitive editing tools. There's no revision tracking, and you can't make any changes that affect the layout of more than the current line (text doesn't re-flow)--both true of earlier versions; I haven't explored more recent versions, and might thus be wrong about this. Plus, it's a painful and awkward workflow compared with working in the original file. It's remarkable that the dog sings opera, but it sings opera badly--hire Pavarotti et al. instead.

Bottom line? Do your editing in the original file, not in the PDF. Then regenerate the PDF.

<<How can I change the text in this document?>>

If you have to do the job anyway: Tools > Advanced Editing > TouchUp Text Tool. Then immediately make the same changes in the original file to avoid the abovementioned problems.

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Geoff Hart ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca
(try geoffhart -at- mac -dot- com if you don't get a reply)
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Editing a PDF file: From: DaveC

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