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  #1  
Old 12-21-2016, 01:52 PM
GreenHell GreenHell is offline
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How to edit pdf files . . .

I've got to make some changes to the hotel menu. Boss emails me an digital copy of our current menu in pdf format. But, the hotel doesn't have an Adobe license that allows me to edit pdf files. The online tools I've found so far seem to allow me to insert text where I want it, but the current menu's text is still there, underlying whatever I add. My take is that the editor doesn't "see" the text already there AS text. Just a background image that happens to be a pattern that humans see as Latin lettering.

Word is causing problems because the spacing and alignment is completely borked when I open the pdf file as a Word document. I don't see any way I could edit that and expect everything to be aligned properly when it is converted back to pdf.

Any advice? Need answer fast! Thanks in advance, Dopers!
  #2  
Old 12-21-2016, 01:54 PM
GreenHell GreenHell is offline
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Sorry guys. Using Office 2016 and Adobe Reader X. Also can't download and install things, though internet access filters seem pretty liberal, so I should be able to access anything online that's not overtly sketchy.
  #3  
Old 12-21-2016, 01:58 PM
BobArrgh BobArrgh is offline
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If you search for "free pdf editor", lots of links come up, all with varying definitions of "free". Some will let you edit a limited number of files as a test, which might work for you in this case. However, I am assuming that most will put an unwanted watermark on the page.
  #4  
Old 12-21-2016, 01:59 PM
Inner Stickler Inner Stickler is offline
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PDF files are generally not meant to be edited. I would ask your boss for a .doc or .docx copy of the menu. It really would be easiest.
  #5  
Old 12-21-2016, 02:01 PM
septimus septimus is online now
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No useful answer (assuming Photoshop or Gimp isn't an option! ) but I'm reminded of the wag who claims that PDF is an acronym for Pnon-portable Document Format. The 'P', like the 'p' in pneumonia, is silent.
  #6  
Old 12-21-2016, 02:49 PM
Quartz Quartz is offline
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Many people use PDFs precisely because they're not ordinarily editable.

Bluntly, it's probably going to be quicker to retype everything than get your boss to resend you the original.
  #7  
Old 12-21-2016, 02:49 PM
GreenHell GreenHell is offline
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Yuk. I'll press for another format or source document when boss is back. I know the changes I want to make, just wrestling with the tools now. Thanks, Dopers!
  #8  
Old 12-21-2016, 03:20 PM
Amateur Barbarian Amateur Barbarian is offline
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You can use Acrobat Pro to do all kinds of editing, but it's really best limited to things like changing prices and fixing typoes. PDF is meant to be an end-stage document exchange format, not a live format like .doc or whatever.

(You can do even more sophisticated editing in Adobe Illustrator, but that's so far beyond "my boss gimme some files" I won't even go there. )
  #9  
Old 12-21-2016, 03:25 PM
DrCube DrCube is online now
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Print it out, mark up the document, and put it on your boss's desk. That's what I do when people give me PDFs to edit.

If they wanted me to edit the file on my computer, they'd have given me the editable file to edit.
  #10  
Old 12-21-2016, 04:18 PM
Anaglyph Anaglyph is offline
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Depending on the complexity of the document, a PDF to Word converter may do the trick. It allows you to import the content into word to edit it. There are some free ones and some web-based ones, however, their abilities are limited.
  #11  
Old 12-21-2016, 04:57 PM
JR Brown JR Brown is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GreenHell View Post
Word is causing problems because the spacing and alignment is completely borked when I open the pdf file as a Word document. I don't see any way I could edit that and expect everything to be aligned properly when it is converted back to pdf.
This is probably the simplest option, if you don't have PDF editing software:

Open in Word. Save as a Word file. Change the formatting and layout to look the way you want (this could potentially be time-consuming). Save the edited file for future reference.

Now, save as PDF. It should come out looking just like the Word doc. Which may be slightly different from the starting document, depending on how much time you put into formatting it....
  #12  
Old 12-21-2016, 05:03 PM
Amateur Barbarian Amateur Barbarian is offline
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That's the normal PDF creation cycle. You create a doc in whatever software or combination of software makes it the way you want... and then AS A FINAL STEP save it to PDF to make it smaller, more compact, more platform- and printer-independent, and pretty much idiot-proof. For changes, go back to your creation/editing/assembly tool and make them there, then save/export a new PDF.

Think of PDF as a print master or archive file, not a document.

Last edited by Amateur Barbarian; 12-21-2016 at 05:04 PM.
  #13  
Old 12-21-2016, 05:03 PM
Xema Xema is offline
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Cutting from an open PDF and pasting into a Word (or other) document is trivially easy. Yes, the spacing/alignment will need some attention.

If this is unacceptable, tell your boss to supply the tools for editing a PDF directly.
  #14  
Old 12-21-2016, 05:17 PM
Amateur Barbarian Amateur Barbarian is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Xema View Post
Cutting from an open PDF and pasting into a Word (or other) document is trivially easy.
Assuming it's just flowing text. It gets a tad trickier if there are graphics or a lot of page layout (text boxes, lists, leadered tab items, etc.)
  #15  
Old 12-22-2016, 07:28 AM
Mavic Chen Mavic Chen is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Inner Stickler View Post
PDF files are generally not meant to be edited. I would ask your boss for a .doc or .docx copy of the menu. It really would be easiest.
Just chiming in to agree with the posters who said the same as this. Do the document in Word and convert it to a PDF at the end. You might be able to OCR the document to get it into Word?

If you haven't got an export to PDF you might be able to install a free PDF printer. A little app that appears to be a printer to your system but creates PDF documents when printed to. Some programs like Sage Accounting come with them. Or CutePDF and the like.
  #16  
Old 12-22-2016, 11:09 AM
albino_manatee albino_manatee is offline
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stickler and drcube offer the best options.

my sister would do what drcube suggests and that probably is the best diplomatic approach. i, on other hand, would request:
original *.doc file
original fonts
supporting software (office)
and would then create *.pdf file for him to approve. there are other viable work-arounds but those still necessitate the original fonts.

as you found out many pdf-tools may not edit what you have in mind. inside the code are two or more "levels". there may also be security stamp imposed on the document which further negates revision.

and, definitely, avoid using software which does not retain the coherency of the origin. that means no scanning or ocr or photoshop nada!

Last edited by albino_manatee; 12-22-2016 at 11:13 AM.
  #17  
Old 12-22-2016, 05:51 PM
Debillw3 Debillw3 is offline
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I use the Google Drive apps.

No watermark and it allows you to "white out" that existing text.

The problem with that, in your case, though is that it requires a solid background (any image background would then be blotted out wherever you made changes) and it would require a lot of fine tuning to get the new text to look professional (but that is a problem for almost all of those non-Adobe programs).

They might have a page limit, but I don't recall (if they do, I haven't hit it yet).
  #18  
Old 12-24-2016, 01:29 PM
John Mace John Mace is online now
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If it is only text, you can "save as text", then open the text file in word (or your text editor), reformat and edit. Then export as a PDF. But you'll lose any graphics in the PDF doc.

I've used the program "LayOut" (that comes with SketchUP). Copy the PDF into Layout, size appropriately and then white-out the areas you want to change with boxes, then write over them. It might take some time to find the matching font, but once you do, it works quite well. I did this just the other day and my edited version was indistinguishable form the original. You might have to get creative in cutting and pasting if you need more room for some text than is available, but it's doable.

You can probably do that in GIMP, too, but I've found GIMP to be very unstable and a memory hog. Very difficult to work with.

Last edited by John Mace; 12-24-2016 at 01:30 PM.
  #19  
Old 12-24-2016, 03:32 PM
ZonexandScout ZonexandScout is offline
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I haven't seen anyone mention this yet, but you can often do minor changes using a simple text editor. For example, you can open the PDF with Notepad and change things like prices, numbers, and individual words without significantly affecting the overall appearance. I do this all the time. You can search the text for the alphanumeric values you need to change.

But you run into problems when you have to add a line or change spacing significantly.
  #20  
Old 12-24-2016, 03:44 PM
Amateur Barbarian Amateur Barbarian is offline
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What the OP needs is the original layout file for the "hotel menu," so that he can edit it as needed whenever needed... and then print-to or export to a fresh PDF each time. All of the above workarounds are great for a one-time or emergency change (I've used most of them). But "hack editing" a formatted document will be too tedious and prone to munging up the layout, content etc. if repeated.

Edit in Word or whatever. Print to PDF again. /nufsed
  #21  
Old 12-24-2016, 03:44 PM
Joey P Joey P is offline
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I've had very good luck with pdfescape . com. However, if you continue to run into the issue where it's not seeing text, then I'm going to guess that what you have is essentially an image saved as a PDF. IME, you just can't win trying to edit that. Even 'erasing' and typing over it is just never going to look correct. The chances of getting the same font in the same size with the same spacing are so slim that it's always going to look like a hack job.

I'd first start by asking the boss if there's another format/file available of the menu to see if you can get one that's easier to work with. There's a very good chance (for example) this is just the one that was sent to the printer and there's text file as well. My logo is save in quite a few formats, often times people need a different one than the one I gave them.

After that, if it's not a huge menu, it might just be faster to retype it and save it however you want so that it's easiest for you to work with and edit going forward. OOWriter/Word is nice, but Photoshop/Gimp is super helpful for rearranging things and getting spacing just right.

The last thing, as I think you figured out is just to open it in a free pdf editor or convert it to a jpeg and, basically, draw over it. But either save that for last or find out how much time your boss wants you to spend on the project. I mean, if it's like 'you're only changing 4.99 to 7.99, this shouldn't take more then 2 minutes', yeah, that's the way to go, but if it's retyping a few lines and the entire menu is just two sides of a page, it's probably better to redo the whole thing and future proof it (after making sure there isn't an editable format available first).
  #22  
Old 12-25-2016, 04:55 PM
John Mace John Mace is online now
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If I had to use an MS Office Application, Word would be my last choice. Powerpoint (or even Excel) is much more flexible.
  #23  
Old 12-25-2016, 08:43 PM
Amateur Barbarian Amateur Barbarian is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Mace View Post
If I had to use an MS Office Application, Word would be my last choice. Powerpoint (or even Excel) is much more flexible.
Word is an excellent tool, when correctly configured and used.

Excel, ditto, but not as a pseudo layout tool.

PowerPoint has no known use beyond being an adult version of those tablet scribbling apps for toddlers.
  #24  
Old 12-25-2016, 08:57 PM
BigT BigT is offline
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Oddly enough, I find Inkscape works really well for a PDF editor*. It converts it to SVG, and then it's generally easy to pull apart the parts I want to fix. Even if the text isn't text, you might be able to take out the part you don't want and type in the new part. You can then save both the SVG, for later editing, and as a PDF.

Of course, that won't help if it's just an image file put in a PDF wrapper.

*When I need something besides the basics. If I'm just typing out text on top of a form or adding chords to sheet music, I use the types of software you already mentioned.
  #25  
Old 12-25-2016, 09:10 PM
John Mace John Mace is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Amateur Barbarian View Post
Word is an excellent tool, when correctly configured and used.

Excel, ditto, but not as a pseudo layout tool.

PowerPoint has no known use beyond being an adult version of those tablet scribbling apps for toddlers.
You have interesting opinions. But your opinions are not facts.
  #26  
Old 12-25-2016, 10:02 PM
voltaire voltaire is offline
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Originally Posted by BigT View Post
Oddly enough, I find Inkscape works really well for a PDF editor*. It converts it to SVG, and then it's generally easy to pull apart the parts I want to fix. Even if the text isn't text, you might be able to take out the part you don't want and type in the new part. You can then save both the SVG, for later editing, and as a PDF.

Of course, that won't help if it's just an image file put in a PDF wrapper.

*When I need something besides the basics. If I'm just typing out text on top of a form or adding chords to sheet music, I use the types of software you already mentioned.
Dang, I was ready to be the first to post the actual best answer for free, pro level, yet easy editting of a .PDF of something like a menu, presumably destined for print. But, yup, Inkscape is your best answer.

P.S. Use the Poppler import option with as "fine" a quality as you think your computer can handle.

Last edited by voltaire; 12-25-2016 at 10:05 PM.
  #27  
Old 12-25-2016, 10:14 PM
Bear_Nenno Bear_Nenno is offline
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Did you ever get this sorted out? Feel free to PM me. I have Adope Pro, and wouldn't mind making a couple changes to a document for you.
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