Editing PDFs

Okay brains trust, I have a number of building evacuation plans which I need to edit since the school has had a name change since the plans were produced. Best software for reliably doing so with the least amount of hassle and learning required. Free or cheap would be great, but probably not compatible with “best” and least amount of hassle etc.


As per title, but not in body of my post, the docs are in PDF format.


Try one of the later versions of Word.

Point to the file in Windows Explorer, right click, go down to Open With & see if it says Word in the menu.
If it does, click on it & Word will ask if you want to convert it to a word doc.

If it didn’t have too many graphics in it, you will get a doc you can work with.
When you are finished, save it as a Doc file(so you can edit it again in the future) & then Save As PDF.

Works for me with Word 2016.

last edited by Cliff Rogers

Will try it when I get to work tomorrow, but they are a building floor plan with the evac route drawn on them and just the name of the school/building in text. So pretty graphics heavy, will see what happens. Any suggestions on how to tackle it if Word won’t do it?



why not convert them to jpegs and fiddle in a graphics program (or word if you must.)

I used to do a lot of that sort of thing - hand sketch plans and type notes over the top using Apple’s Pages, but surely word will allow you to create text boxes and arrows over an illustration?

Latest full version of Adobe Acrobat has some editing capabilies but can be patchy.

Try to open it in Adobe Illustrator, again can be flaky but may get the result you want.

Enfocus Pitstop is a plugin for Acrobat and is probably the best pdf edit software going around, but it is expensive and takes some time to get your head around it.

It really depends on the original software used to create the document and how it was turned into a pdf. Anything created in Illustrator or Indesign and exported to pdf from there can usually be edited with reasonably good results.

Anything from the likes of Publisher can be problematic at the best of times.

If none of that works, you could try placing the pdf into another program (such as Indesign) as a placed graphic and just covering over the areas that need editing with a new text box with the correct type.

Fonts can be a real issue. If you dont have access to the fonts in the document, most editing software will use a default font which can cause all sorts of reflow issues or text just dissappearing.

One of the original purposes of a pdf was to provide a file, that was cross platform and uneditable so as to provide integrity when sent to print. Of course, about 5 minutes after the creation of the very first pdf, someone was trying to crack into it and alter it.

last edited by madbugger

Yeah, if it is a lot of graphics, easy way is what Midge says, convert it to a pic & use picture editing software.

Actually I’m thinking now, convert it into a pic, paste it into Word, place a new text box over the existing text and type away. I was kind of hoping that we could just buy some software and I could palm it off to the admin staff to do.

I’m wearing too many hats here now, besides teaching I’ve spent a fair chunk of this year creating a key and lock system for the school and taking locks and barrels off to be rekeyed into the system. I’ve also been researching water quality and have changed the pH of our water tank to stop the copper taste in the water, getting quotes for shade sail structures for a grant, getting quotes to turn a disused bus shelter into a mower shed by adding a roller door and some extra steel, designing an outdoor stage, building a bouldering structure with some kids, building outdoor tables with other kids etc etc.


Mick, if you go down that path, some pointers.

Rasterise the pdf in photoshop at 600 dpi, it will help to keep any small or light text legible.

Convert to either greyscale or cmyk if there is color.

Once you have placed it into word and made the corrections, save as pdf and then take that pdf back into photoshop and rasterise again, this will make all text look similar, not a mix of raster and vector which sticks out like dog balls on a cat.

As sure as god made little green apples, someone will decide after you have made the changes that they want to send it for a print run.

Your printer will still curse the file, but will thank you that you have made the best of a bad situation.😄😄

Why would you want to put dogs balls on a cat? :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:


Hey Mick I know this is old but …I have to produce staging plans for my work showing how we stage the work so that we dont close down a centre’s entire playground as the Dept of Ed needs to issue a waiver blah blah.
I use a program called Active Takeoff. Its primary function is to takeoff measurements off plans. But you can use it to overlay stuff on your pdf.
My staging plans have to show emergency exit points etc. It doesn’t edit - it overlays an existing plan. It has a free trial

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