Convert pdf to word and vice versa – this is how it works

Converting PDF to Word and back has become easier in Microsoft Office: Starting with Word 2013, you can not only convert your Word documents to PDFs, but you can also take a PDF file and turn it into a Word document. This does not always work and in every case without small errors, but already surprisingly well.

  1. Convert PDF to Word and vice versa – this is how it works

PDF to Word - Instructions

Our guide explains how to convert a PDF to a Word document and vice versa as of Word 2013. To do this, we show how to clean up errors that occur during conversion.

1. Convert Word to PDF: How to create a PDF file from a Word document

PDF files are often preferred when passing on documents, as they can be read independently of the system and the layout is retained. PDF files have the same appearance on all computers. In addition, a PDF file can not be changed so easily. That’s why Word from version 2007 offers the possibility to create a file in PDF format from a Word document.

Word document to PDF file

In Word 2013, you create a PDF file from your Word document by first opening the tab Activate file. In the menu that then appears click on the command Export. In the window that pops up, click on the icon to the right Create PDF/XPS document. Don’t let the "XPS" fool you irritate, this is a Microsoft format, which is hardly used, because the result can be displayed only in Internet Explorer.

The dialog box Publish as PDF or XPS is displayed. By default the PDF file gets the same name as the Word document. You can usually leave this suggestion as it is, since it is a different file type.

But if necessary you can change the name. To do this, type in a different file name. With a click on the button Publish your Word document is written to a PDF file. The original Word document remains with you with this procedure for the further use.

2. Convert PDF to Word: Turn the generated PDF back into a Word document

After you have created a PDF file from your Word document, put it to the test and create a Word document again from the PDF file you have just created. This is quite simple.

Click on the tab File and on the command Öopen. Then select the folder where you saved your PDF file. The dialog window Öffnen is faded in. In this dialog box, select PDF Files as the file type at the bottom right. All PDF files in this folder are displayed. Select the desired PDF file, and then click on the button OK. Confirm the dialog box that appears after a short time by clicking the button again OK.

PDF file to Word document

Depending on the size of the PDF document, conversion may take some time. After successful conversion, the PDF file appears as a Word document, and you can edit the file as you wish. You are back in a "real Word document" again and be able to use all the usual functions of Word.

If you want to save the edited document as a PDF file again, click on Save and select the PDF format in the dialog box that appears. You should change the file name now though, otherwise the already existing source PDF file will be overwritten.

3. PDF in Word: Problems importing PDF files.

Importing PDF files that consist of a mixture of multi-column text and graphics can lead to difficulties. Some elements from the converted PDF file will not appear as expected in your Word document. Other elements you may not be able to change. Interactive PDF elements are not displayed at all.

It can also happen that during conversion text elements are interpreted as graphics and thus cannot be edited as text. The program copes best with plain text files. A little trick may help you to improve the conversion result. Try the following: Save the result of the conversion as a Word document, and then close the document. Then open this document again. With a little luck the conversion result will look better.

4. PDF in Word: Importing scanned PDF files

If you want to convert text documents scanned as PDF into Word documents, you will get a nasty surprise. Scanning a document creates a graphic in the PDF file, but not text, even if it should look like this. Only with the help of an additional OCR or text recognition program (OCR = optical character recognition) can you create editable text from it.

Save PDF

However, the text recognition program used can only convert the scanned graphic correctly if the source material, i.e. the scanned document, is high-contrast. Pure text is recognized very well and converted with only a few errors even by simple software that is usually available for free. It becomes problematic if the document contains text, tables, multiple images, text boxes, subheadings and the like. Mostly only commercial OCR programs can cope with that.

If the PDF file has not been converted with an OCR program, the text remains an image. Word does not notice during conversion whether it is a scanned document or not and accordingly displays the standard dialog box for the conversion. Only when you try to edit the supposed text do you realize that the text cannot be edited.

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