Tips & Tricks

Editing Text in a PDF

July 20, 2004


Here's a common scenario: You publish a catalog, which is updated once a year, but you want to keep the date on the pages current. Do you have to regenerate the PDF file from the source application every time you want to modify the date? Here's another example: You send marketing material to certain people, and you have a couple of spots on the document where you want to use the client's name. Do you have to make separate PDF files for each client?

No and no. You can easily touch up text in Acrobat using the TouchUp Text tool, hidden in the Advanced Editing toolbar. Save some time by opening the toolbar instead of just choosing the tool. Choose Tools > Advanced Editing > Show Advanced Editing Toolbar. Drag the toolbar to the toolbar area or to the side of the program window to dock it.

Acrobat's Advanced Editing Toolbar

Figure 1. Open the Advanced Editing toolbar to find the TouchUp Text tool.

Touching Up Text

You can easily make small edits to lines of text in a document:

  1. Select the TouchUp Text tool on the Advanced Editing toolbar.
  2. Click within the text you want to edit. A bounding box outlines the text you can select.

    Selected text

    Figure 2. Selected text is identified by a bounding box; it can include images and other content.

  3. Drag the I-beam pointer to select all or part of the line of text, or position the I-beam pointer where you want to start typing.

The I-beam pointer

Figure 3. Position the I-beam pointer where you want to start typing.

Note: Edit > Select All will select all the text in the bounding box. Click outside the highlighted area to deselect the text.

  • Type the replacement text or add new text at the position of the I-beam pointer.

    Added text

    Figure 4. Type text on a row selected with the TouchUp Text tool.

    Note: In order for you to edit text in a document, the font must be embedded or available on your system.

    Adding New Text

    You can also add new text to a document using the TouchUp Text tool:

    1. Ctrl-click/Option-click within the document where you want to add the text. The New Text Font dialog box opens with the default options -- Arial text and horizontal writing mode.
    2. Select the font and writing mode (horizontal or vertical), and click OK.

      The New Text Font dialog

      Figure 5. Select the desired font and writing mode for your inserted text.

    3. The default text "New Text" displays on the page. Select it, and then type the new text (Figure 5.61).

      Added text

      Figure 6. Your text will appear just as you specified.

    4. Click outside the new line of text to finish the process. The text is unselected and the new line of text is complete.

    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 as 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 safely make changes to the text in Acrobat.

    What Goes Up...

    If you select a vertical writing mode and the font doesn't write vertically, you'll see an error message informing you that the requested font with the requested writing mode doesn't exist in your system.

    If you see this message, click OK to dismiss the dialog. You must either use the font horizontally or use another font that will write in a vertical mode.

    This tip is excerpted with permission from "Adobe Acrobat 6 Tips and Tricks: The 100 Best" by Donna Baker, published by Peachpit Press/Adobe Press, Copyright 2004 Peachpit Press.

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