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How to Copy PDF Text

The PDF is, known by and large, as a preservation format. As such, PDFs often contain useful and informative content. Unsurprisingly, it would then make sense that you would often, and for different types of projects, need to copy textual information from those PDF files to use in alternative programs such as Word or Excel.

Yet, it is difficult to get text in a PDF to editable content. There are limitations to what you can do with it. Fortunately, like Microsoft Word, Adobe Acrobat 11 Pro offers simple tools for basic copying and pasting text.

To Copy PDF Text:

  • 1In Acrobat 11 Pro, open the PDF file you would like to copy PDF text from.
  • 2With the Selection Tool activated, use the cursor to select the desired text.
Acrobat Text Selection Tool
  • 3Right click on the selection. From the drop-down menu, choose Copy. Once this is done, your text or image will be added to your Clipboard.
  • Depending on the content of your PDF, you can also preserve the column formatting if the PDF is tagged properly. Instead of Copy, select Copy with Formatting.
Copy Option Context Menu
  • 4Then, in Microsoft Word 2013, with your document open, click on the down arrow of the Paste button to reveal formatting options: (from left to right) Keep Source Formatting, Merge Formatting or Keep Text Only.
Word Paste Options
  • 5Click on one to select your option. Note that hovering your mouse over each one will give you a quick preview of your copied text as it will appear when you select that option.
Keep Source Formatting Preview
  • Or you can simply right-click in your document and choose your Paste options from the context menu.
Word Paste Context Menu
  • 6Your text will then appear in the new document.
Word Pasted PDF Text