Some people believe that you cannot edit PDF files because they are “read only”. However, there are elements of these files that you can modify. The best part is there are free programs that allow you to do this and you don’t need the source code. Many of them have features that rival those of commercial software.
Make Basic Changes
If you just want to make minor modifications like hiding your phone number because you will upload the file, you can use PDFEscape. This software can provide password protection for these documents. You can also add freehand drawings, notes and annotations. PDFEscape also lets you conceal certain portions of the document via its whiteout tool. You can add sticky notes, text boxes, custom shapes and arrows.
Modifying PDF File Metadata
If you want to change the metadata associated with a PDF, you can use Becy PDFMetaEdit. It is a free program that allows you to change a PDF document’s properties including keywords, creation data, author name, title and many more. The program can also encrypt PDF files and take off passwords.
If you encrypt the file, only those who know the password will be able to read it. Becy PDFMetaEdit can be run from a command line; multiple PDF files can be processed.
Adding metadata to PDF files is considered necessary if the files will be posted on the Web. That is going to help a PDF file’s organic ranking in Google.
PDF Text File Editing
If you want to edit PDF files but don’t have the source documents, try to change the PDF into an Excel spreadsheet or a Word file. The choice will depend on what the PDF file has. There are many plugins that allow you to do this. Once this is done, you can modify the files using Word or Excel. After editing, you can save the file as a
PDF or HTML via a PDF writer.
For users with PDF files that are mostly text, they can use the Stanza desktop version to convert PDF into Word format. But if your document has plenty of tables, charts and intricate formatting, NitroPDF or BCL Research’s online converter is more suitable. BCL Research’s converter offer conversion on the fly. NitroPDF is slower but the results are very accurate.
If you have to edit more advanced features like image and text, other set of tools are needed. These editors can perform tasks such as moving text blocks without damaging the document flow, putting signatures in, replacing images and so on.
One of the programs that can do this is PDF XChange. This free editor can be used as a viewer. But it also allows you to type on a PDF. This editor also has image stamp support, allowing users to sign the documents. You can also put images anyplace on the document. Inkscape is another popular choice.
Inkscape is actually a vector drawing program but it can export and import PDF documents. Inkscape allows you to make a selection of any element on a PDF (table, graphics, text etc) and position it anywhere on the document. You can also take the selected element off for good. Annotation is also allowed.
Another tool that you can use to edit PDF files is OpenOffice Draw. The program allows online modifications. You can change the font, replace colour and make other formatting changes.