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Adobe Acrobat 9 How-To #56: Selecting and Editing Text in a PDF

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  1. How-To #56: Selecting and Editing Text in a PDF

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The Select tool in Adobe Acrobat 9 is an intelligent tool for selecting text, images, and tables. Donna L. Baker explains how to use the Select tool to grab bits and pieces you want to combine to create new content.

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Suppose you want to combine a couple of pages from one document, a table from another, and a block of text from another. You could go to the source documents and programs and rebuild the content, import different formats from document to document, and export a PDF file. Or you could try combining the content in Acrobat, which is often the more efficient approach.

Use the Select tool (located on the Select & Zoom toolbar) to select text, images, and tables, and to perform object-specific actions available from the tool's pop-up menu of options. Select is an intelligent tool that behaves differently depending on what you're selecting on a document. The more you click, the more you select:

  • Double-click a word to select it.
  • Triple-click to select a line of text.
  • Quadruple-click to select all the text on a page.
  • Press Shift and the left-arrow key or right-arrow key to add text one letter at a time.
  • Press Shift-Ctrl (Mac: Shift-Command) and the right-arrow key to add text one word at a time.
  1. Click the Select tool on the Select & Zoom toolbar and then click-and-drag over some of the text you want to select. The text is highlighted in the document.
  2. Hold the pointer over the selected text for a couple of seconds until the Select Text icon appears. Right-click (Mac: Control-click) to display the context menu, listing options that you can choose depending on the content selected.

If you hover the pointer over a table, the Select Text icon appears. Right-click (Mac: Control-click) to open the shortcut menu. The table-specific options include the following, as shown in Figure 1:

  • Copy As Table. As its name indicates, this option allows you to copy the table to the clipboard. Open the document into which you want to paste the table, and choose Edit > Paste.
  • Save As Table. Name the table in the Save As dialog box that appears when this option is selected, and choose a format.
  • Open Table in Spreadsheet. When this option is selected, your spreadsheet application (such as Microsoft Excel) opens and displays the imported table in a new worksheet.
Figure 1

Figure 1 Select text in the document using the Select tool, and choose content-specific commands.

In both Microsoft Word and Microsoft Excel, the tables taken from the PDF document are editable and ready to use.