The Easiest Way to Edit a PDF in Microsoft Word (Video)

June 19, 2017

I’m often asked whether it’s possible to edit the content in a PDF document. Although the PDF format is great for ensuring your documents maintain their original look-and-feel when viewed by others on their own devices, it’s not simple to edit or copy the content within them.

This can be a good thing if you’re trying to protect your content from reuse by others. But there may be times when you want to update the content in a PDF and no longer have access to the original Word document from which it was created.

The good news here is that one of Microsoft Word’s lesser-known features is its ability to open PDF documents and convert them into editable content. This can really come in handy when you don't have access to the files originally used to create the PDF. (Be aware that this will only work on password-protected PDFs if you know the password.)

In Word, go to File > Open and locate the PDF file, just like you would when opening a regular Word document.

You’ll see a message telling you that Word will convert the PDF into an editable Word document. Word optimizes the conversion for text editing, so you’ll most likely find that the layout of the document might not match the layout of the PDF, especially if the PDF contains a lot of images.

Click OK to start the conversion process. Depending on the size of your PDF, it might take a few seconds to several minutes for the conversation to complete. But once the conversion is done, you’ll see your PDF as a Word document. At that point, you’ll be free to select, add, delete and otherwise edit the contents.

You’ll also be able to copy the text to paste into other documents or applications. If you intend to publish or share the Word document itself, be sure to check all the pages. The conversion might have shifted images and other content around and you may need to spend some time moving things back into place.

When you’re done, you can save your file like any other Word document or even convert it back into a PDF. Just make sure you save the Word file someplace where you’ll be able find it the next time you need to work on it, so you won’t have to go through the entire PDF conversion process again.

For more useful Microsoft Word tricks, check out Word Quick Tips on LinkedIn Learning.