If you’ve ever tried to edit a Portable Document File, or PDF, you’ve almost certainly discovered that it’s a lot more trouble than editing a Microsoft Office document. That’s because the PDF format was never designed to be edited at all. When Adobe introduced the PDF spec back in 1992, the whole idea was that you could work with PDF documents on screen the same way you worked with documents on paper. A PDF was supposed to be a virtual printout, the on-screen equivalent of hard copy. Like any printed hard copy, it wasn’t intended to be changed.

It didn’t take long before users wanted to correct typos, replace old product logos with new ones, and even change fonts and layouts in their PDFs. Thus, productivity software makers started providing PDF editing tools. That said, you still can’t edit a PDF with the same ease and flexibility as say, a Word document, and you probably never will. But don’t worry: You can edit PDFs, and we’ll tell you how. First, however, we’ll explain the challenges you’re up against.

Why Are PDF Files So Hard to Edit?

The PDF format was devised before everyone started using web browsers and is based on the printed page. That means you can’t add a few lines of text in the middle of page one, for example, and make the remaining text on the page flow smoothly into page two, as you can in a word processor. Instead, you need to resize the fonts on page one or change the size of the box that contains the text. If you want to add more text that will fit on the page, we offer some tips in a later section, but don’t expect perfect results.

While many apps call themselves PDF editors, they…

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