How to Make Changes to an Adobe PDF File

By Wanda Brito

A Portable Document Format (PDF) file is an exact image of a document. This file format has truly become the standard for the sure and reliable transmittal of documents and forms all over the world. PDFs were designed to be printed or to be displayed onscreen. They were not meant to be the type of file that could still be edited. So what happens if a PDF file contains some kind of error? If you are the one who created the original document, you can simply delete the PDF file, make the changes to the original document in the program you used to create it, and then simply re-PDF it. But, what if for some reason the original file is unavailable? This option will not be possible. In such a case, you will need to find a way to make the changes to the PDF itself.One important aspect of the PDF is that the person who creates it is able to tailor the security settings to their needs. If the document has been password-protected, you will need the original password to alter it unless the changes you wish to make are within the scope of what the author has chosen to allow. Whether or not a document has been password-protected, there are ways to make changes to a PDF, which are outlined below.

Things You'll Need

  • Computer
  • PDF file that needs to be changed
  • PDF Editing Program
  • Program document was originally created in (optional)
  • Scanner (optional)

Edit Directly on the PDF

Step 1

Edit directly on the PDF if the document is not password protected. You can edit a PDF in this manner even if it is password protected as well, but only if you have the author's original password. This does not require advanced skills.

Step 2

Open the PDF in Acrobat or another PDF editing program and make the changes or additions you wish to make.

Step 3

Print out the modified PDF file or save it either by overwriting the original file or creating a new file, once you have completed the changes.

Make Changes by First Converting Document to Another Format

Step 1

Make changes to a PDF by converting it to another format, such as Microsoft Word. To be able to convert and edit PDF files, you will need a PDF to Word converter program (see Resources).

Step 2

The PDF converter program will basically interpret the PDF file, and convert it into a text file that can be recognized by Microsoft Word. What this program does is it "reads" the file and outputs the text in a Word format.

Step 3

Make the changes you need on the document in this format and then re-PDF it.

Step 4

Print out the modified PDF file or save it either by overwriting the original file or creating a new file, once you have completed the changes.

Make Changes by First Scanning PDF File

Step 1

Using a scanner, first scan the PDF file. Be sure to scan it using the "text document" setting.

Step 2

Run the OCR software, once the scan is complete. This will translate the text directly to a Word file that can be corrected and converted to PDF again.

Step 3

Proofread the document completely for any errors that may have happened in the conversion.

Step 4

Repeat Steps 3 and 4 from the previous method.

Tips & Warnings

  • If price is a consideration, there are a variety of programs that allow you to create and make changes to PDF files (see Resources) at a much lower cost than if you buy Acrobat. The best ones will allow you to select, insert, change, remove, rotate, copy and paste texts, images and graphics. You should also be able to insert, import, delete pages or design page layout.