PDF Editing Software

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PDF Creation and Editing Software

PDF Creation Software

In the past creating PDF files meant purchasing Adobe Acrobat software from Adobe Inc, and even today, Acrobat is one of the best and most powerful software packages for the creation and amendment of PDF files. However, there are many other ways of generating a PDF, typically as an Export option within major document creation software products. This applies to the full set of current MS Office and OpenOffice applications - whether Word, Excel, Powerpoint etc. or their equivalents in OpenOffice. The OpenOffice export to PDF option is very fast and produces good quality PDF files, but has almost no options for specifying attributes of the generated file. MS Office Export to PDF does include a range of options, with the most relevant being those that create structured PDF files and files that are optimized for screen or print. MS Word files that include Heading styles can be set to create a Contents tree automatically (also known as an Outline or Bookmark tree) which is very important for fast navigation of larger documents, particularly when viewed on mobile devices. Recommended "options" settings are shown below:

MS Word export settings form

All modern desktop publishing software products also generate PDF files, with pre-set options for print production and in some cases, for screen viewing. Amongst the best and most widely used of these are Adobe's InDesign software for PCs and Macs and QuarkXPress for Macs. Example "options" settings for InDesign (CSS4 in this example) are shown below. Note that for fast display of bookmarks on all tech platforms it may be necessary to convert InDesign "named destination" bookmarks to explicit page references (Evermap tools, see below, include an autobookmark facility for this):

Adobe InDesign CSS4 export settings form

Mac computers will create PDF files from almost all appropriate applications, including the basic Pages and office-related facilities included as standard with OSX. Similar facilities exist within Linux. In addition to the above options, there are many "print drivers" which will create a simple PDF as output from any desktop application under Windows, just by printing the material to a specially installed printer ... in this case, a non-physical print device. The result is a PDF with very little functionality, but usable for many basic applications.

Recommended links:

  • Adobe - for Acrobat, Illustrator and InDesign software
  • A-PDF - for software from A-PDF (affordable PDF Tools), including an excellent watermarking tool
  • jPDFBookmarks - free PDF bookmarking tool
  • CutePDF - for software from CutePDF (PDF print driver/writer and editor)
  • PDF Creator Plus - from Peernet
  • Setasign - php software for creating and augmenting web-based PDFs
  • Evermap - providers of a wide range of Acrobat plugins, including for links and bookmarking

PDF Editing software

As explained earlier PDF files have a quite complex structure, and there are many variants in terms of the standards applied and the way in which these standards have been implemented. In fact, some would argue that there are almost no real standards because there is so much variation in implementations. The result is that the structure of any particular PDF file can be extremely complicated, and thus very difficult to amend (edit) post creation. It is, of course, possible to perform a range of functions which come under the general heading of editing, i.e. are not simply the amendment of text on a page. These features include changing the content of specific pages; changing the use of particular fonts; cleaning/optimizing files to remove duplications and poor structure; splitting and combining PDF files; extracting and inserting pages; saving the content is alternative formats (other PDF standard variants or completely different formats, such as Rich Text (rtf); and more.... In the case of Adobe Acrobat, which is the mostly widely used PDF Editor, the standard editing tools are arranged into groups of functions:

  • Content editing - includes adding and editing text and images, plus adding hyperlinks and bookmarks
  • Page manipulation - includes rotation, deletion, splitting, watermarking, style changes etc
  • Forms and button management - includes adding fields for text/data input and related functions
  • Text recognition, i.e. OCR functionality, mainly used for conversion of scanned-in files to text and numbers where possible
  • Document processing - which includes a range of functions, from aspects of page layout to page numbering and auto-identifying web content and URLs (converting implicit URLs into explicit URLs)
  • Additional tools are also provided, either built-in or downloadable from Adobe's website

Other PDF Editors provide similar functionality, with their own take on the most important aspect of their usage - for example, the Infix editor from Iceni is much closer to a Word Processor style of editor than Acrobat. Likewise, Foxit's PDF Editor software provides a very wide range of functionality, similar to the features described above, at a very competitive price. And there are innumerable online PDF conversion and editing websites, most of which provide basic functionality as a free service with more advanced features on a subscription basis. Software providers include:

  • Adobe - for Acrobat and InDesign software
  • Iceni - PDF Editor provider
  • Foxit - PDF Editor and Reader provider
  • NitroPDF - PDF Editor provider
  • PDF Architect - Tailorable PDF Editor provider

There are many online PDF conversion and enhancement services, some built using the Setasign php software mentioned earlier. Examples include:

  • A-PDF - wide range of PDF tools, many downloadable for local use
  • VeryPDF - PDF conversion and watermarking
  • Small PDF - Conversion to/from PDF, Merge/Split, Basic security (lock/unlock)