Can I write in a PDF document?
Thread poster: Lisa Colautti

Lisa Colautti
Local time: 02:40
English to Italian
+ ...
Oct 16, 2004

I have a PDF document in Italian and I have to translate the text in German. I only have Acrobat Reader 4.0. There are a lot of graphics in the document. How do I go about it?
Thanks, Lisa


Dinny  Identity Verified
Local time: 03:40
Italian to Danish
+ ...
Upgrading... Oct 16, 2004

First of all, Acrobat Reader 6.0 is free for downloading.

That said, I'm afraid you'll have to purchase the Acrobat writer function if you want to make changes to a PDF document.

Good luck!


Endre Both  Identity Verified
Local time: 02:40
Member (2002)
English to German
No, you cannot Oct 16, 2004

Even if you had the full version of Acrobat (which permits the editing of PDF files), translating a full document in Acrobat is not a viable option if we are talking about more than a few lines. With the Acrobat Reader (any version), it is downright impossible.

I'd ask the client whether they have an editable file, if not, you'll have to type the translation into a word processor.

There is the possibility of running the PDF through a character recognition (OCR) program such as Omnipage or Abbyy, which yields an editable file (e.g. .doc or .rtf). Depending on the complexity of the file's formatting, this may or may not yield satisfactory results.

See also the numerous previous discussions of PDF files, Acrobat and OCR software in the fora.



mk_lab  Identity Verified
Local time: 03:40
Member (2004)
English to Russian
+ ...
Use PDF-convertor Oct 16, 2004

If you don't have full version of Adobe Acrobate, you can use pdf2word or (much better) SolidConverter PDF (free for trial downloads) to convert PDF file to MS Word .doc format, make changes and convert it back into PDF using the same programm. Trial version has limitation on the volume of the PDF file (something like 5 pages).

[Edited at 2004-10-16 19:00]

[Edited at 2004-10-17 08:22]


Robert Tucker (X)
United Kingdom
Local time: 01:40
German to English
+ ...
Some general findings Oct 16, 2004

Noting the various Forum postings, have been looking at the problem of editing pdf's.

For Linux users, KWord seems to be about the only way currently of putting a pdf document straight into word-processor.

Windows users seem to have quite a few pdf to Word or .doc converters to choose from, including a few free ones.

Xpdf, native software on most Linux distributions, has amongst other tools pdftotext and pdfimages. The pdftotext tool extracts the text nicely into paragraphs (a page column may become a paragraph), even removing end of line hyphens - useful when using a CAT tool (the subject of an earlier forum, I think). A Windows download for these tools is to be found on the xpdf home site -

You should only need OCR (and OCR is the only possibility) if the text is (part of) an actual image (jpeg or whatever) within the pdf document, which, of course, it may be. Kooka+gocr in Linux only seems to work with dark text on a light background. Then the text may be almost part of the picture or illustration and artistic work will be necessary to re-create it in the new language ...

[Edited at 2004-10-17 10:48]


Aleksandr Okunev (X)
Local time: 04:40
English to Russian
Have the client made it in Word? Oct 16, 2004

Lisa Colautti wrote: I have a PDF document in Italian and I have to translate the text in German.

PDF documents are not for editing, translation and suchlike. All PDF documents were originally created in a word processor or a publishing system and then 'printed' to a virtual printer (PDF writer, Acrobat Distiller etc.).

A good client MUST know that your task is mission impossible: to do it with PDF document only, you need Adobe Acrobat 5 or 6 which costs over $500, and still the whole process will be a ***royal*** PITA.

The guys should provide the Word document to you or a tagged DTP file for translation using Trados, Wordfast or another CAT tool.

If you still need to go ahead, you should convert it to Word doc first, then translate and convert to PDF again. This issue has been discussied a lot of times on teh forums.


United States
Local time: 17:40
English to Arabic
+ ...
Use Illustartor Oct 16, 2004

Lisa Colautti wrote:

I have a PDF document in Italian and I have to translate the text in German. I only have Acrobat Reader 4.0. There are a lot of graphics in the document. How do I go about it?
Thanks, Lisa

You can use Adobe Illustrator, which allows opening PDF in edit mode. Though this way, you may have to charge extra for layout.


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Can I write in a PDF document?

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