Convert PDF to Word

March 21, 2008

Quite a few times I have been asked if you can convert a PDF document back to Word. In the words of someone on one of my discussion lists:

PDF is an end-result delivery format. What you’re asking is akin to asking for someone to take a 2×4 and make it into a tree again, complete with leaves and roots.

The best option you have with Acrobat is to export the images and save the PDF text as RTF using Acrobat, and then piece the document back together again in Word. But the original formatting is lost. For long documents or complex documents with lots of formatting or tables, this can become a time-consuming nightmare.

There is some software around that purports to do a much cleaner conversion. One that has been recommended—though I haven’t used it—is ScanSoft’s PDF Converter. (ScanSoft are the OmniPage people, now owned by Nuance). It’s relatively cheap at around $50 US. Details from: http://www.nuance.com/pdfconverter/

[This article was first published in the December 2004 CyberText Newsletter; link and price last checked December 2007]


  1. The price appears to have risen dramatically, to $99.99. Thought you should know.

  2. Not according to the link in my post, and this one that goes from it: http://www.nuance.com/pdfconverter/converter/. It’s still US$49.99 as at today.

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