PDF (Portable Document Format) is converted to MS Word format infrequently by you. On most occasions, you must have accomplished this with ease. This is because those PDF files have been created from editable Word documents whose layouts have been simple enough without features like wrapped pictures, callouts etc. Such PDFs have not been prepared from scanned files.

When a Word documents is saved in PDF format, the information loss is insignificant. This facilitates ease of conversion to Word document back from PDF format. You may come across certain issues but they can be addressed quickly and the overall experience of PDF to Word conversion would be hassle free.

When you create a PDF file from scanned document, it is similar to capturing photos of every page. The page is interpreted as a picture instead of text by the software. For deciphering the picture as text, the image has to be subjected to optical character recognition (OCR) software for proper interpretation.

Suppose the pages have been scanned neatly. The most renowned OCR software would also offer 99.9% accuracy which implies that a minimum of one word per thousand words would be wrongly interpreted. If the document contains 0.1 million words, almost 100 words would be wrong. This would be considered by readers as unprofessional and shabby work.

During the 1990s, Adobe had created the PDF open standard for preserving documents in a consistent layout that can be viewed without any distortion on all software and Operating Systems. The word processor of Microsoft Office uses the extension .docx or .doc for the files created through it. PDF and DOCX are not compatible.

A DOCX file cannot be opened in Adobe Reader. Apart from Adobe, companies like Sumatra and Foxit have also launched PDF readers, but Word documents cannot be opened in them too. However, the process of editing the PDF document in Word by converting it to DOCX is easier.

PDF Reflow function has been incorporated in MS Word 2013, released by Microsoft in 2012. To avail of this feature, you need to navigate to the File Tab in MS Word, click on ‘Open’, choose a PDF file, and open it. The PDF file would be opened in Word for editing just like any ordinary DOCX file. Certain limitations are there.

The PDF file opened in Word would contain all the content, however the look may not resemble that of PDF file exactly. This is due to the fact that PDFs have fixed layout. The data is present but the PDF does not preserve the data’s relationship with aspects like exact position of information on the page etc. In contrast, such page related information is present in Word documents.

As preservation of formatting is not done by PDF format, some features may not convert in exact manner. Such features include page colors, page borders, cell spacing in tables, changes that have been tracked, frames, endnotes, PDF bookmarks, PDF active elements, footnotes that are longer than a single page, audio, video, PDF tags and comments, as well as special font effects such as Shadow. These effects are interpreted as graphics by MS Word.

Reasons for Manual Intervention

The suitability of words in a given context can be understood by humans and not machines. No OCR software comes accompanied with such advanced Artificial Intelligence that it can judge the relevance of words in a particular situation. Suppose, the image of ‘w’ appears as ‘iv’ to the OCR, the word would be interpreted as ‘iv’ even if it means distorting the original word. ‘Will’ will become ‘ivill’.

But such a mistake is not committed by humans. Even a small child can figure out which word is ‘correct’ in a given context. But, software struggle in such conditions and fail to correctly convert difficult words. You have to run a spell check after conversion of the document to identify such mistakes and rectify wrongly converted words. However, if the word has been wrongly converted by the OCR into a word that is in the dictionary, the spell checker won’t be successful in identifying this change in nuance.

The pdf to word conversion quality may also suffer because the OCR software may not be able to understand scans of inferior quality. Also, smaller or illegible text, uncommon fonts, and other cosmetic changes pose problems for OCR software in recognizing the letters carefully. OCR’s capability of interpreting letters is limited. Human beings definitely have an edge over OCR in this respect. One example that human intellect is better than the limited intelligence of machines is that of ‘Captcha’. The machine is not capable of detecting the characters as neatly as that of human eyes.

Proofreading the Converted Documents

If you have undertaken the drive to scan many books for offering public free access to them, the extensive proofreading that is required would take a toll on your nerves. Suppose, you have scanned files into pdf and then converting it into Word for preparing the eBook that would be sold online. When people are paying for the eBook, you cannot provide them with books that are full of typo errors.

  • Word Correction

    If two letters resemble each other in looks, even advanced OCR software or much-preferred PDF to word converter’s algorithm would misinterpret the letters. The words ‘Li’ appears much like ‘U’ and then an error would show up. The proofreading services provider would track down all such errors and then carry out global search for corresponding error to replace them altogether.

  • Fixing of Line Breaks

    The exact location of line breaks is not evident to the PDF to Word converting algorithms. So, line breaks are erroneously put in the wrong places. The lines break can be detected during proofreading by activating the ‘show Invisibles’ option or by altering the size of fonts.

  • Fixing Hyphenated Words

    Suppose a word has been hyphenated as it has been split into 2 lines. The PDF to Word converter won’t realize this. Since, the algorithm cannot figure out if the hyphen is to be retained or discarded, it would keep the hyphen. So, you can come across words like ‘furni-ture’ which is not desirable.

  • Fixing Multiple Spaces

    Often in converted document, you would come across words which have been separated by more than one spaces. You can address this with ‘find and replace’ function. You can start with identifying twenty spaces for replacing the same with one space. Gradually, less number of spaces has to be identified.

  • Fixing Formatting

    The OCR software does not format bold and italicized words properly. IT also does not differentiate between upper and lower cases correctly.

  • Use the ‘Nuclear’ option

    If everything in the converted document appears to be in a mess, you can exercise the ‘nuclear’ option to remove complete formatting. Everything has to be started from scratch. After applying the option, you would be left with plain text containing only the words without any formatting. Incorrect words may still be present.

To apply this, you need to start the Word document and from ‘Edit’ menu, you have to choose ‘Select All’. Start any text editor like Notepad and paste the entire content on the plain file. If the line breaks are more and placed in locations where they should not be, you have to carry a global search for replacing all line breaks with a single space. The process may vary based on operating system and text editor type. The document can now be reconstructed with the physical or PDF scanned file as the visual guidance.

Tips for Flawless PDF to Word Conversion

Often, you run into problems while converting documents from pdf to Word. The result may appear as image instead of text or may not appear similar to the original file. You can improve the efficiency of conversion by following the tips mentioned below.

  1. Match the Fonts Closely

    If the PDF has been received from a different source, the converted document’s font would appear dissimilar to the actual. This might be because the fonts stored in your device may not match the font with which the PDF file was created. A good converter software would look for a font that closely matches the source and replace the original. If the same font has to be used in the output, you have to acquire the font and install them in your device. Else, you can install the converter on a device that has the desired font loaded.

  2. Choose Correct Conversion Option

    During the process of conversion of PDF document to Word, the process can be done in four reconstruction modes. They are continuous, exact, flowing or plain text. If the prime elements of the document have to be retained and then you need to carry out significant editing, you should go with ‘Flowing’ mode. If the Word output must resemble the PDF document closely, you need to choose the ‘Exact’ mode. If you don’t want the formatting of the actual PDF to remain in the converted document, you can go for ‘Continuous’ and ‘Plain Text’ modes.

  3. Identify the Tables

    Most good PDF converters have option for detecting tables. The converted go about locating all the tables with the PDF file for transforming them to table objects in MS Word. With the table functions in Word, you can edit and change table objects. The rows and columns can be changed, data can be updated, and colors, as well as shading along with other formatting, can be added.

  4. Remain Aware of Differences in PDF

    All PDF files are not essentially the same. This is because they may be created by different PDF creation packages like Adobe Acrobat, Foxit, Solid Converter, etc. The files carry information for facilitating their conversion to a neat Word document that can be edited. Some PDF files are built through optical scanning. As a result, the pages are saved as images. Resultantly, during the conversion of PDF to Word, the result may contain images.

  5. Secure The Right Password

    Most converters respect the password protection standards of Adobe PDF. The codes of sensitive documents protected by passwords are not bypassed by most converters. Brute force is not applied. You will be prompted for the password before the actual conversion of project PDF documents can be started.

Final Thoughts

During eBook conversion or simple conversion of documents in pdf, you can have a smooth experience by adhering to the tips mentioned above. You would not run into problems even if the source file is scanned. Proper and flawless conversion certainly takes time. If you invest time and patience, you are bound to get wonderfully functional documents. You can also outsource pdf to word conversion to enjoy a hassle-free experience and optimized, error-free outputs.