Tips & Tricks

Editing Text in a PDF using Acrobat 7

May 12, 2005


Here's a common scenario: You send deluxe information packages in PDF format to a select few clients. To customize the packages with the recipients' names, you could generate multiple source documents. But do you have to make separate PDF files for each client? Or suppose you publish a catalog and want to maintain a current date on the catalog whenever you send it to your prospective clients. Do you have to re-create the PDF each time you need to modify the date?

No and no. You can easily tweak the text in Acrobat using the TouchUp Text tool, hidden in the Advanced Editing toolbar. Choose Tools > Advanced Editing > Show Advanced Editing Toolbar. You can click the pull-down arrow to the right of the displayed TouchUp tool to open the TouchUp toolbar if you like. Both toolbars and the pulldown menu are shown in Figure 84a.

TouchUp Text Tool

Figure 84a. Open the Advanced Editing toolbar to find the TouchUp Text tool and the TouchUp toolbar.

Select the TouchUp Text tool from the Advanced Editing toolbar or the TouchUp toolbar and click the tool within the text you want to edit. The paragraph is surrounded by a bounding box. Drag the I-beam pointer to select all or part of the paragraph, or position the I-beam within the text you want to edit (Figure 84b).

Selecting text to edit

Figure 84b. The block of text is identified by a bounding box. Select all or part of the text within the bounding box.

If you need to select an entire paragraph, instead of dragging the cursor choose Edit > Select All to select all the text in the bounding box, or use the shortcut keys Ctrl+A or Command+A. Type the replacement text or add new text at the position of the I-beam pointer. Click outside the highlighted area to deselect the text.

In addition to touching up existing text in a document, you can add new text using the TouchUp Text tool. With the TouchUp Text tool active, Ctrl-click/Option-click within the document where you want to add the text. The New Text Font dialog opens with the default options: Arial text and horizontal writing mode. Select the font and writing mode (horizontal or vertical), and click OK (Figure 84c).

New Text Font dialog

Figure 84c. Select the desired font and writing mode for your inserted text.

Note: If you select a vertical writing mode (shown in the dialog in Figure 84c) and the font doesn't write vertically, you'll get an error message that the requested font with the requested writing mode doesn't exist in your system. Click OK to dismiss the dialog. You have two choices: Either use the font horizontally or find another font that can be used vertically.

The default text "New Text" displays on the page. Select it, and then type the new text (Figure 84d). Click outside the new line of text to finish the process. The text is de-selected and the new line of text is complete.

New text on page

Figure 84d. Your text appears just as you specified.

Consider the Source

Sometimes the touch-up results aren't what you expect. It isn't Acrobat's fault; it's related to what you used in the source program. For example, many Word documents contain bold or italic text. Or so it appears. In reality this is probably just a bold or italic text appearance. Unless you are using a bold or italic font (Arial Bold or Arial Italic, for example), when you try to touch up text in Acrobat you won't have an exact match for the replacement font since Acrobat doesn't simulate a bold or italic appearance.

The solution is simple. Before converting a document to PDF, check the fonts you are using. If the fonts and font faces you use are embedded and subset, you can predictably make changes to the text in Acrobat. Font embedding and subsetting are covered in Tip 48, in Chapter 6.

Gimme a Break!

Adding new text to an existing paragraph is all well and good, and adding extra lines of text is fine too, but what happens if the line of text grows too wide for the page's layout? In previous versions of Acrobat you had to add one line of text at a time.

Well, Acrobat 7's TouchUp Text tool handles this tricky layout problem with panache. In addition to adding text, you can also add line breaks. Click the location on the text block where you want it to break, and then right-click or Control-click to open the shortcut menu. Click Insert > Line Break. Then press Enter or Return to wrap the text to the next line. Check out Tip 87 on using the TouchUp Object tool to see how to make the reformatted paragraph fit.

You can use the same method to insert other items, including soft hyphens, nonbreaking spaces, and em dashes.

Excerpted from "Adobe Acrobat 7 Tips & Tricks: The 150 Best" by Donna Baker. Copyright (C) 2005. Used with the permission of Pearson Education, Inc. and Adobe Press.

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