What is a PDF file

PDF files are simply files created in the Portable Document Fileformat that was developed way back in 1992 and first standardized in 2008. It’s currently the number one most widely used(and additionally fastest growing!) office document format on the web. It's incredibly popular on virtually all devices and platforms. PDF files are invaluable for everyone from data entry office workers to true artists, photographers and graphic designers looking to build a “portfolio inside a single file”.

On a technical level PDFs are a complex mix of plain-text, various graphics and image formats and even multimedia. They are very, very feature rich and tend to look great on almost any screen. They also contain some metadata that is written in programming and declarative languages and stored inside the files themselves. The sheer amount of different content that can be represented in a PDF is one of the reasons why things can look so dang good inside one. But it’s also a cause of interoperability issues and why people often want to convert PDFs to word or another popular format, and increasingly want to edit the PDF file itself to optimize it for a specific use-case or piece of software.

For anyone that’s curious, the original idea behind PDF was to develop a modern and new format for the 21-st century that would work to blend text, color images, graphics, and even animations into a multi purpose format to serve office workers, creatives and all practitioners that needed a bit of visuals into their walls of text. And yes, they actually wanted to keep their walls of text but also have them look at least somewhat nice with fancy fonts and the like. Oh, and naturally PDF inventors wanted to do all this on all operating systems and devices around the globe. After all, back in the 90s we didn’t really know what and in many ways just how muchwas going to happen to digital formats in the next 30 years. Against all odds PDF succeeded and is now the go to format forliterally everythingon literally (ok, not literally but “sort-of”) all devices!

It’s important to note that PDF is what’s known as “open format” meaning that it’s available publicly and it is not proprietary or paid to use, multiple global standardization organizations such as ISO(the International Standardization Organizations) work or publish various specifications and strive to standardize the format so it can fulfill its purpose of working seamlessly on every device, platform or piece of software that wants to enjoy its benefits. So the TLDR here is that file converters from PDF to word do exist and can be found on the internet since PDF as a whole is a free format.


What are the advantages of converting a PDF to Word

One of the biggest advantages to converting your PDF file to word (most often the doc and/or docx file format) is that by doing so you will be able to edit the file in all of the many software programs and tools that currently support Microsoft’s file formats, including Word for Windows, Android, iOS and many other different non-Microsoft offerings. Usually by having the same file available in Word means that you can enjoy the benefits of software tailored strictly towards text processing - gaining access to features around searching, custom and rich text fonts and formatting, text recognition, spelling, autocorrect and all other kings of software wonders that play nice with fully text based documents but do not necessarily jive with the more multimedia and visual aspects that define PDF. Not to mention that as a whole Word documents tend to be easy (well easie) to edit and modify that PDFs are and have more free software to do so. PDFs on the other hand are harder to modify and that’s by design, in fact it’s a widely known feature of the format!

A great and kind-of hidden benefit is that modern search engines while very smart are also orders of magnitude more adept at searching (and cricually indexing and ranking content that is fully text based), so if you want to eventually publish your work on the web and maximize the discoverability that the internet offers then right now an old fashioned fully text based document is your best bet.

Another benefit is that the conversion process often removes some elements and meta-information from the document that can result in smaller files. Both PDFs and Word documents have version history and all other kinds of data that is used by machines and not necessarily humans but Word documents do tend to take less space overall. In fact certain PDFs that may have been created from scanned “image-only” PDF files may have both an image layer and a text layer representing the exact same text based information, in which case if the meaning inside the text is all one cares about then converting to a purely text based format like a Word document is a clear benefit with no downsides.

To finish things off, Word documents are overall very convenient and useful. Yes, in theory PDFs are just better but that 20 year old software that your bank, or insurance company uses might just require a Word document. In which case you have no choice but to use a PDF to word converter to avoid having to mindlessly retype your document.


How to convert a PDF to word - step by step guide

In fact converting your PDF file into a Word document has never been easier or more hassle free. The only thing you need to do is get PDF Extra from https://pdfextra.com/and you can begin:

1. Immediately after opening the app you will be presented with the “Home Screen”. To open a file you can click Open or use CTRL + O.

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2.  Chose your PDF file (hint: we also support creating the file for you from an image, scanner or even from one of our supported office documents: Word, Excel, Powerpoint)

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3. Click Export to Word

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4. Choose the spoken language that the text inside the PDF is (English, German, French etc). We default to English and you can choose up to 3 languages present in the PDF file. Confirm with Apply.

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5. After a few seconds you will be prompted to save your new Word file. You can even immediately open it up in OfficeSuiteto begin searching, editing and much more. And if you need to email it https://www.officesuite.com/en/mailgot you covered.

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6. Done!

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That’s it. You just successfully converted a file from PDF to Word and even learned something about the formats and converting as a whole.


Why converting PDF to Word should be done with PDF Extra

PDF extra uses a combination of OCR (optical character recognition) and traditional conversion methods in order to extract the information from the PDF file and convert it to a Word document. Getting a sort of “best of both worlds” approach that works wonders for almost all files.

Frequently PDF files are created from images or just scanned documents, meaning that the information inside of them is essentially a bunch of colored pixels huddled up together. Machines have a really hard time understanding what the words and expressions inside images are, well because they’re images and not really text. Naturally, converting those documents is tricky and here is where OCR comes in. What OCR technology does to the document is essentially reading it as through the eyes of a human and extracting the information that is “trapped” inside the image by converting it to machine understandable text.

At the same time PDFs can also have a “text layer” where the information is stored in a way that closely mimics that of traditional text based documents including Word ones. This conversion tends to be faster and more accurate producing overall better results but is extremely file specific and depends both on what software was used to create the PDF and what is the ultimate purpose of the Word file.

By using a combined approach PDF Extra converts the file in just seconds and leaves your original file intact. Our conversion works with most of the languages spoken around the world, including English, all english variants and virtually all other major languages to boot. Most frequently used PDF objects like annotations, forms, text specific fonts etc. are also usually preserved and transformed into their Word counterparts.

Additional recommendations and tips

How to get the best conversion results


1. Try to get high resolution files that are easy for a human to read and understand - if you’re using a file that’s easy for you to read chances are it will be much easier to convert properly into a Word document.

2. Remove any graphics, images, shapes and other items that you may not need in your output document. Things like the logo of a company or a giant high-resolution image may look great inside the PDF but if you don’t need them, then you can remove those to optimize the conversion. In fact you can also use PDF Extra’s rich editing capabilities in order to trim all unnecessary objects from your file before converting.

3. Stick to text, try to avoid skewed or overlapping objects, exotic and fancy fonts or colors - again machines are way dumber than humans and literally can’t read between the lines or easily distinguish how two objects interact. In addition any font or color that you may have in the PDF may impact the conversion process and may not be available in the software where you plan on using the output Word file. Overall it’s best to stick to commonly used Word features.

Good habits when converting

1. Check your original file’s metadata and compare it to the resulting file - if you have an important “author” field or anything similar it makes sense to review this in the output file post conversion.

2. Backing up your input PDF before converting. PDF Extra preserves the input file in 100% of cases and simply produces a second Word type file. However, we can’t say the same for all software out there so backing up is prudent.