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How to Convert Text from a PDF File into an Editable Word 2013 Document

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Word 2013 offers a new feature, called PDF Reflow, that allows you to import PDF files into Word and edit the text as a Word document. You can then resave or export the text as a PDF file.

NOTE: The PDF Reflow feature in Word 2013 works best with documents that are mostly text. If there are graphics in the PDF file, Word seems to have issues with them, and you may lose your images. It may also take Word a few minutes to open a PDF file in edit mode, depending on how big the file is.

To open a PDF file in Word 2013, click the FILE tab.

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Click the Open option on the left and then click Computer if your PDF file is on your local hard drive. You can also open files from SkyDrive or another location using Add a Place.

If opening a PDF file on your local hard drive, click one of the Recent Folders on the right or click the Browse button to find your file.

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Navigate to the location of your PDF file, select it, and click Open.

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The following dialog box displays, warning you about the time it may take to convert your document. It also warns you that your document may not look like the original if there are a lot of graphics.

NOTE: You can skip this dialog next time by selecting the Don’t show this message again check box.

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The PDF file opens in Word, and you can edit it, adding, deleting, changing, and moving text.

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To convert the document back to a PDF file you can either save it as a PDF file or export it. We will show you how to save it as a PDF file. If you would rather export the file as a PDF file, use the Export option on the FILE tab and and select the PDF/XPS format.

To save the file as a PDF file, click the FILE tab and click the Save As option on the left.

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Select the location where you want to save the PDF file. You can save it to your SkyDrive account, your local hard drive using the Computer option, or a different location using Add a Place. We chose to save it to our local hard drive, so we selected Computer and then clicked Browse.

NOTE: To skip this screen and go directly to the Save As dialog box, see our article about bypassing the Backstage screen when saving new documents in Word 2013.

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On the Save As dialog box, navigate to the desired location to save your PDF file and enter a name for the file in the File name edit box. Select PDF (*.pdf) from the Save as type drop-down list. The Options button displays providing you the opportunity to specify settings for your PDF file.

NOTE: We recommend saving your revised PDF file under a new name, leaving the original PDF file unchanged.

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Change the desired settings for your PDF file on the Options dialog box and click OK.

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You are returned to the Save As dialog box, where you can click Save to save your revised PDF file.

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The new PDF file automatically opens in the default PDF reader.

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To close your original PDF file, click the FILE tab in Word and click the Close option on the left.

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You will be asked if you want to save changes to the original PDF file. Since we saved the revised PDF file with a new name, we don’t want to save changes to the original PDF file. Click Don’t Save to keep your original PDF file intact.

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For the example in this article, we created a PDF file using random text generated using the free tool discussed in this article.

Lori Kaufman is a freelance technical writer who likes to write geeky how-to articles to help make people's lives easier through the use of technology. She loves watching and reading mysteries and is an avid Doctor Who fan.

  • Published 03/24/13

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