Adobe Acrobat for Editors

Date: (South Bay) Tuesday, July 17 and (San Francisco) Wednesday, September 26, 2012
Forum organizers: David Couzens and Karen Asbelle
Presenter: Donna Caldwell
Summary notes: Jill O'Nan with Tessa Hearn and David Couzens

NOTE: This presentation was given at our South Bay forum, followed by a presentation at our San Francisco forum. Here are the features overview and resources handout and the "Version 9 to 10 tools guide" that were given. Since those presentations, Adobe is preparing to release Adobe Acrobat Version 11. Here is a quick video of what's new in Acrobat 11.

Adobe Acrobat 10 includes numerous ways to edit a PDF file, but will those resulting edits integrate with your authoring software and your client's workflow? This presentation by Donna Caldwell addressed several of these Acrobat editing features and the concerns that go with them, including the following:

  • Editing a PDF: What can you edit and what will those edits do to your workflow?
  • Commenting and Reviews: What types of reviews are available for your workflow?
  • Converting PDFs to alternative file formats: Why and when?

Key Points

According to Donna, if you can print it, you can PDF it. Documents from a variety of applications (Word, FrameMaker, InDesign) can be turned into PDFs.

Most PDFs that we generate, though, are flat files that don't include advanced functionality such as web links.

Adobe Acrobat offers many automated features that editors can use to save time. For example, you can generate a table of contents with active links that let users jump to specific sections of the document. The trick is to use bookmarks to denote the various sections that will be linked in the TOC.

Contrary to popular belief, editors can edit and add text to PDF documents. One way is to use Tools > Content > Edit Document Text. Another is to use Ctrl + click to open a new text box. Adobe also includes a "typewriter" tool (now called Add/Edit Text Box) that allows you to insert text -- even in a form that does not have clickable fields. The most flexible option is to go to Comment > Drawing Markups and select Add Text Box. This allows you to set the parameters for the content box and then insert any text you want. However, to format the text inside the box you added, you must use keyboard shortcuts (e.g., Ctrl + B) or open the formatting toolbar by choosing View > Show/Hide> Toolbar Items.

Although PDF is not designed to be a document layout program, you can use it to add images and even video! These tools are available under Tools > Comment > Edit Object (right-click to Edit Image) and Tools > Comment > Multimedia. Amazingly, the embedded video works right away.

When you need to copy just a page or a section of a PDF, the extract and export tools are helpful. By extracting a page (Tools > Pages Extract), you can save just that particular page, instead of the entire document. Similarly, export lets you copy tables and then export them into a spreadsheet that preserves their formatting. Donna noted that any time you copy content to a clipboard, you can create a new PDF from it.

If you are working with colleagues or clients who use Adobe Reader instead of Acrobat, you can give them access to editing tools when you save the PDF. Choose File > Save As > Reader Extended PDF. Donna cautioned that you should first save a copy of the PDF with all the bells and whistles. Otherwise, once you extend the PDF to Reader, the functionality will be limited to what is available in Reader (typically, a subset of what is available in a full version of Acrobat).

If the original source file for the PDF is no longer available, you can revert back to Word, InDesign, and other programs. When you revert back to Word, the editing changes and comments you made in Adobe will now appear in Track Changes.

Adobe also offers centralized, managed reviews from its website. Up to three people can participate for free. The initiator uses a wizard to distribute the PDF to reviewers. The server tracks all comments from the different reviewers and merges them into one file.

Donna recommended visiting,, and the Adobe User Forums (type in "User Forums" in search field) for information about useful add-ons, such as those that "flatten" PDFs and make it difficult to remove signatures, redactions, etc. Finally, she recommended for online training, and particularly as a place to get top-quality online training for Adobe products.

* * * * *
Donna Caldwell of Caldwell Communication is an Adobe Certified Instructor, specializing in Acrobat, InDesign, FrameMaker, and InCopy. In addition to offering training in publishing software, she has designed documentation templates over the last 20 years with an emphasis on automating, simplifying, and standardizing the production process for her clients.



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