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In Acrobat X Essential Training, author Anne-Marie Concepción demonstrates how to create, modify, review, and share PDFs in Adobe Acrobat X Standard or Pro. Starting with a tour of the new panels-based interface, the course covers the basics of the software, such as creating and customizing PDFs, searching, editing text and graphics, and extracting PDF content to use in other programs. Also included are tutorials on creating forms, inserting interactivity and rich media, using the prepress tools, combining PDFs with other types of files to create customized portfolios, and ensuring document security. Exercise files accompany the course.
Can you actually do a wholesale editing of text in a PDF in Adobe Acrobat? Well, sort of, in a way you can. It's not really the best idea at all. Not just because it's little clunky, but also because what's happening is that you are updating a PDF, but not updating the file that created that PDF. For example, this page that you're looking at is a single page from a catalog that was created in Adobe InDesign. So if we updated say, for example, the prices here in this PDF, we are not updating the prices in the original InDesign file.
So nextquarter or next season, when we need to do a new version of this catalog, we are not going to know all the updates in that InDesign file. We'll have to look at all the PDFs, and all the changes that we might have made. So it's really not a good idea to change the PDF. However, on the other hand, I am well aware that often you don't have the original program or file that created the PDF, and you need to make a change, or it's an emergency or it's a minor change. In other words, it is possible to edit a PDF, it's just not a good idea. But if necessary, here is how you would do so.
We're going to start with editing text in the PDF. The first thing to know is that you're not going to be able to edit the text, like, change words around unless you have that font that's being used loaded in your system, and you can figure out which fonts it is in a variety of ways. But the main way we are going to do it is with the same tool that we use to edit the text. You might be thinking, here is the Edit Text tool, but actually, it's not. This is the Select Text tool, confuses a lot of people. The Edit Text tool is a completely different tool. It is here in the tools panel, because it has to do with content of the page, it's in the Content section, right? That makes sense.
It's the Edit Document Text tool. So select that and then click inside the text that you want to edit. Like, for example, say that we want to edit this text below the heading Container Plants. So if you click inside the type, what happened really briefly, I know it sort of flashed here, was it read into memory which fonts are available to be worked with in Acrobat. And if we didn't have this font loaded, we would've gotten an alert. If you want to know which font it is, just select some of the text and then right-click and choose Properties. It will say, oh this is ChaparralPro-Regular, which I do have installed on this system.
We are going to come back to that dialog box in a bit, so let's zoom-in a bit so we can see better our selection. You get this really weird selection preview, these half moons, but let's say that we want to just delete the word Containers, for example. So I select that word and then press the Backspace or Delete key one more time to get rid of the extra space, and there you go. The text doesn't automatically wrap up to meet here. So that's something you need to keep in mind. Now if I want to add some other text, like instead of saying, Plants are grown in containers, I want to say vessels, I can just type it in.
Sometimes if you don't have this font loaded, you'll be able to delete text, but if you want to add text, it's going to have to use a fake font, and you'll get an alert about that. It's going to try to match the typeface but it won't be able to match it exactly. Let's say that you wanted to do more wholesale editing of this text, instead of just deleting a word or adding a word, you wanted to change the formatting of a word, you can do a limited amount of that right within Acrobat by selecting the word, like let's say that we want to select the word people and then right-click and choose Properties, right? So we just saw that this is where the typeface was, but also notice that you can change the font size, like we might want to change it to 18 points, you can change the color of the selection, which is actually really useful.
Let's say for example, that you added a hyperlink in Acrobat, and you want to let people know that this certain text is a link, you might need to select it and color it to let people know. You can change the Character and Word Spacing, the Scaling, the Width of the strokes surrounding the text, but if you try to change its typeface, you are going to get mixed results. Like, if I try to change this to say Georgia Bold, I would say nine times out of 10 I get this alert, that says, sorry, can't do that because the font encodings are different. And that's only because the way that most programs export a file to PDF, is they do funny things with the type, they encode them, they subset them, they embed them, so it's not normal text that you are working with, creating a document from scratch.
So if you really need to change the typeface or do more wholesale editing, we have to use a different way to skin this cat. So I am just going to click OK just to close that, and close that. The different way is to use the Edit Object tool. Now if you select the Edit Object tool and click on text, like this one's already selected, but if I click here for example, you will see that you get this blue outline surrounding what's called an object. So an object might be a line of type, it might be an image, it might be a graphic, it might be an entire page, you can drag with that, to select more than one item at a time.
But in this case, it's this entire block of type right here. What you do with Edit Object is, you can like actually move the item around, or you can delete the entire item, but what's really useful, is that you can right-click after you have selected something with the Edit Object tool and choose Edit Object. What that's going to do is it's going to open up what you've selected in a separate program, so that you can do much more deep and extensive kinds of changes. When you close the file in another program it updates the PDF. Which program will that use? It doesn't use the originating program.
Like, it won't open this up in InDesign, which would be very cool if it did. On the other hand, you might not have InDesign, right? So it figures out which program to open it up in from your Preferences. Let's take a quick look at Edit > Preferences, or if you are on a Mac it's under the Adobe Acrobat menu, and the section that controls this is called TouchUp, because in earlier versions of Adobe Acrobat, this tool was called the TouchUp Object tool. What you need to make sure is that you have a path to an Image Editor selected, and a path to what's called a Page or Object Editor selected.
If you have the Creative Suite installed, if you have Photoshop, InDesign, Illustrator installed, it will automatically fill these in, using Photoshop to edit photographs like these guys here, and it will use Illustrator to edit vector type objects, such as logos or type. So when you right-click on a selected object, and choose Edit Object, it's going to open up in one of these two programs. So I am going to right-click on this, and choose Edit Object, and it's telling us that there are PDF tags in here, and in order to edit the object, it's going to have to strip it out, and I'm going to say, yeah, that's fine, it's not important to me at this point.
Now in my selection I have both RGB and CMYK objects, probably that red color was an RGB color that I just added. It wants to know which one to use, I'll just say make everything in CMYK, and here is the entire thing opened up. So now it's much easier for me to do all sorts of editing. I can easily change typefaces by selecting text, like, say that I want the word people to be different a typeface, I can just choose it from up here; say I want it to be Cooper Black, all right? Now notice that something weird is happening here - I'am going to zoom in with the Zoom In tool - in Illustrator is that, this is moving over to the right and the problem is much more evident if you select the type with the Selection tool in Illustrator.
Do you see how each one of these type objects stands by itself, it's not like one regular paragraph that will automatically wrap. This is very typical of what happens when you export text out to PDF. A quick little tip that you might find extremely useful in Illustrator is to select all these lines of type with the Selection tool, cut them to the Clipboard, switch to the Type tool in Illustrator, and drag out a square, a little container box that's about the same size as what you had, and then choose Edit > Paste, and that concatenates all those individual stand-alone lines of type into one paragraph. Pretty cool! So now I can just press Return here and I might say, Many plants cannot compete well in a border, except for Anne-Marie's plants, which do well wherever she puts them.
So make whichever edits that you want to make to this file. It's actually a temporary PDF file that opens up automatically in Illustrator. You don't want to do a Save As, you don't want to actually save this as a stand-alone file, but you could, I suppose, if you wanted to. But if you want to actually update the PDF, which is what we are trying to do, just close it when you're done editing, and say, Yes, when it says save changes. What that does is it actually updates the PDF with the changes that you made in your editing program. And there we go. There is our edited text.
So it is possible to edit text in a PDF. It's better to edit it in the original file that created the PDF in the first place, but in case of emergency or you don't have that original file, you can certainly do it with the help of the Edit Document Text, and maybe the Edit Object text in Adobe Acrobat.
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