Anyone use a good program that converts *.pdf and *.doc back and forth?

+7 votes
I have a lot of documented information that I would like to share but am having a little difficulty figuring out how to upload the most accurate. I found some information that I received in *.pdf format, but needs some editting. Unfortunately, I only have Adobe Reader, which doesn't allow editting, and *.pdf's are scrambled in Word. I also have some items that I've typed several various information from different sources I had in notes into one document, which Word does not save in *.pdf format. Since *.pdf files are the only type of written work that can be uploaded to WikiTree, could someone suggest a program that would either make the 2 interchangeable or one program that would work for either format? I am running Win7 and Word 2010. The Acrobat Reader is the standard free update that comes with most computers.

One particular article I would love to share that I've seen several researchers working on concerns Andreas Leidig who was hung for killing his wife, and is the father of who many call Pioneer John Lydick. I ordered the copy of the Minutes of the Provincial Council of Pennsylvania with the court docket for his sentencing, and also have the article Behold, I Come Quickly, written by historian Charles H. Glatfelter about this event.
WikiTree profile: Johann Lydig
asked in WikiTree Tech by Pj Patty G2G5 (5.3k points)

6 Answers

+7 votes
Best answer


There is a very expensive solution - the acrobat software that is used to create pdf files would do the job beautifully - in fact, you could edit it right there without having to convert back and forth to/from anything else.  That, of course, is not a viable solution, but this has never bothered me because I do have 2 possible ways to do the job without buying anything.

  1. The easier way is that most of the time, you are able to select text in pdf files  Try clicking your mouse at the start of what you want to copy, drag it to the end.  If the text is highlighted, then you have selected it and can now copy, then paste it into Word.  Even if you are not able to select the text (some older pdf files may not have text selectable)  if you try clicking items on the menu bar and look at the drop-down menus, you should find an option to Select All (or something like it).  If you click that, then all the text will be selected and, as the other way, you should be able to copy/paste it.
  2. If you can't successfully copy the text, you can always print the pdf file, then scan it back into the computer and OCR it (that's a tekky kind of thing, turning the acronym for Optical Character Recognition into a verb).  Windows has the capability to convert the scanned file to text and import it directly into Word.

When you're ready to convert a Word document back to pdf, that's the easy part!  In Word, click SaveAs and choose pdf as the file type - presto- done-o!

Please feel free to ask if you have any questions about this or if you have any trouble doing it.

answered by Gaile Connolly G2G6 Pilot (538k points)
selected by Phillip Rich
You're following me aren't you Gaile ;-) lol
-P Rich
I couldn't have picked a better role model, Phillip!
Pffft... I've seen your profile! Just because I'm a newbie doesn't mean you can fool me with your self degradation. But the flattery IS appreciated. :-)

I know people don't realize it when they look at the obscene number of points I have amassed here, but I am a newbie too ... to BOTH WikiTree and genealogy.  I have only been a member for 3 1/2 months and couldn't even spell genie analogy genealogy then.  The reason I have all those points is from all the questions I kept posting, trying to learn ... and I am ever so grateful to all the wonderful members who generously share their skills and knowledge with me ... you included, Phillip!

With only 1 month and 4 days of this whole WikiTree Addiction, I still say I'm the newbie and you're a seasoned pro... but Thank You for all you contribute and will agree to disagree since we're here to help ''each other''. I love this place and all the wonderful peeps who make it what it is. You know, I wasn't even sure of my Paternal Grandmother's Maiden name a month ago!?! WikiTree Rocks! And it's the people that make it that way!
Looks like we're tied in the grandparent department.  I didn't know the first name of my paternal grandfather until a WikiTreer told it to me 2 days ago.  The only reason I know his last name is because it's my LNAB!!!
Word 2013 can open and convert some PDF files it is better with files that the letters are crisp. It takes a bit of time. I tried a 28 page pdf file of a 1920 typed written paper that had pencil in notes that did not have an uniform text it did not convert the file to an editable file.
+4 votes
2 terms come to mind right away and either/both might help.
cut'n paste
Google Drive/Google Docs
Okay I lied, that was 3...
But a lot of times you can copy sections of PDF's (highlight CONTROL + C) and then paste them into a Word document (CONTROL + V) to recreate the document into an editable DOC file. (If you can't it's likely just in image format and couldn't even be edited with the expensive software without using an OCR and fixing those mistakes first)

Then with Google Drive and Google Docs you can upload the file and save it as a PDF again...
It's not the only answer, but it'd work...I think.
But maybe somebody else will have a better suggestion.
Good Luck!
-P Rich
answered by Phillip Rich G2G6 Mach 4 (41.5k points)
+4 votes

Google Docs was already mentioned (it can do conversion both ways) but I'll toss out some other free options:

The e-book library software called Calibre can do a decent conversion of PDF's that are not images to other formats (I'm not sure off the top of my head if it does .doc, but know it will do other word compatible formats such as .rtf) - while it might take more time and effort to learn and use than you are willing to expend for this project, you can do a really thorough job getting rid of 'irregularities' in your conversion using regexs (regular expressions).

The MS Office alternative OpenOffice exports direct to pdf and there are some extensions available that allow opening pdf's directly (they are hit and miss depending on the specific document)

answered by Rob Ton G2G6 Pilot (272k points)
+2 votes



The Writer application in OpenOffice Suite can export text documents to a PDF, and if you apply the PDF Extension to the application, it will import a PDF document as a text file.


Just yesterday I used seven or eight freeware PDF tools in my research endeavors, as some PDFs are purposely created to prevent conversion or allow cut and paste. Some even have each individual page of text embedded in images, which requires additional software such as an OCR application. Sometimes it is less time consuming to simply print to paper!


There is a PDF application that I highly recommend. It is an extension for the FireFox browser called “Print pages to PDF” that will save any web-page, or sequential tabbed web-pages, into a booklet. I use it almost daily. The PDF file it makes will easily convert into a text file. It always works.

answered by George Blanchard G2G6 Mach 9 (90.3k points)
+2 votes
I use for all my conversion needs
answered by Kitty Cooper G2G6 (6.6k points)
+1 vote is free and works pretty well for converting pdf to jpeg
answered by Sara Rice G2G6 (6.8k points)

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