How many times have you needed to edit a PDF document that was sent to you? The portable document format (PDF), was created to share computer text and inline image files in a reliable way. PDF was originally co-founded by Dr. John Warnock as part of the Camelot Project, it became the PDF we know today in 1992. During my time as an employee in the brick and mortar world in the mid to late 1990’s, the inability to edit PDF documents though was a common problem. Editing PDF’s is not just a problem among writers, but also for office professionals, especially executive assistants, office managers, and even the all-knowing IT folks.
If you’re a writer or freelancer, you’ve surely come across various files in PDF format. Sometimes it’s as simple as a calendar that you wish you could edit or a goals worksheet or novel outline from a webinar or training that you’d like to customize for your own needs. There are many different options out there for working with and editing PDF documents. For most people, the infrequent need to edit PDF’s makes it impractical to pay for a software program that can do it.
If you are interested in publishing your work though, PDF files are a common format used. There are several free programs that allow you to markup a PDF document using highlighting or side notes. But, in many cases to edit text of a PDF document, you need to pay for and use a software program that converts the document. Once it’s been converted, you can edit the document, and then turn it back into a PDF. I recently discovered AbleWord, a word processing program that allows you to do basic editing of PDF text documents.
Other programs for viewing and working with PDF files include:
- Adobe Acrobat Reader (Free)
- Adobe Acrobat PDF Editor (Free trial or paid)
- Adobe Sign (Free trial or paid)
- Nitro (Free trial or paid)
- PDF Editor 10 (free trial or paid versions)
- Foxit PhantomPDF Business (Mac or PC)
- iSkysoft PDF Editor 6 (Free)
- PDF-XChange (Mac freeware)
- PDF Preview (for Mac or PC)
AbleWord Review: How To
The good news for Windows users is that AbleWord works with Windows applications through Windows 10. You can download the most recent version of AbleWord completely free at Ableword.net and give it a try risk free. The other advantage of AbleWord for Windows/PC users, is that because it’s also a word processor, the AbleWord interface is going to look very familiar to you. I’m a long-time MS Word user and I found that the menus and toolbars resemble and function like MS Word for creating a basic document. During my AbleWord review I downloaded the software program and found the familiarity of the interface was extremely comfortable and easy to use.
Once you’ve downloaded AbleWord to your PC, open the application and click the Open icon on the File Toolbar. Browse to the Word of PDF file on your computer or cloud storage that you want to open and edit. PDF files opened in AbleWord will be automatically converted to an MS Word document while loading so you may have to wait a few minutes as it converts.
When the PDF file opens in Word, make your edits as needed and then choose Save or Save As to save the file with the changes under a new name or as a different file type if needed. PDF documents originally created in MS Word will convert very well using AbleWord. For PDF documents that were originally done using a page layout software, your finished result may be similar but not exactly like the original PDF.
NOTE: For PDF documents that were scanned into your computer, these become images and contain no actual “text”. You will need to use an Optical Character Recognition (OCR)software to edit these PDFs.
AbleWord Review: Benefits
- Simple to use word processor to create an original document
- Free to download the software
- Works with multiple file formats including .doc, .rtf, .html/htm, .docx, .pdf
- Do basic editing of PDF documents
- Convert PDF to Word by saving as a .docx or .doc file
AbleWord Review: What’s Missing
The one downside to using AbleWord as a PDF editor is that some of the higher-level features available through paid PDF editors are missing. If the work that you are doing involves a need to produce fill-in forms, ID certificates and digital signatures, or collaborative review and commenting on a document, you’ll need a professional PDF editor such as Adobe Acrobat PDF Editor.
AbleWord User Reviews:
When it comes to AbleWord, reviews from users are glowing. Here’s what just a few of the users had to say:
“It [AbleWord] has enough features for a casual user/part-time author but I particularly love being able to open and edit pdf files. I’ve found it really reliable and user-friendly” by Stimpie9
“Just used AbleWord to edit and save a PDF-amazing.” by onebod
“Installation was quick and easy. It did the job I needed it to do.” by MikeyT
“Awesome little program for PDF edits.” JoeSwarm
AbleWord can’t compete feature for feature as a word processor with MS Word, Pages with paid versions of PDF Editors like Adobe or Nitro. If you work daily with PDF documents or frequently create documents containing graphics and images, you’ll find AbleWord lacks some of the more advanced functions.
AbleWord doesn’t always work perfectly and it has trouble with files that have more complicated images or graphics. I tried it on five different PDF’s, it worked fine for PDF’s that were mainly text. I also tried it on two different PDF worksheets that I wanted to edit and one worked perfectly, the other was slightly off but I was able to modify it for what I needed.
Based on what I found during my AbleWord review process, I’d recommend it for those who have need of a free, easy to use word processor that can step up to the table when needed for simple text edits of a PDF document.