March 2009
Vol. 25, No. 1

A Technology Newsletter for Extension Specialists

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Convert PDF to Word or HTML
by Steve Giesel

Did you know it's possible to convert your PDF documents back into a Word document?  Or even into HTML? In the past A number of you have asked me if this was possible and unknowingly—I responded in the negative.  Happily I can now correct my error and announce to you that it is indeed possible to convert your PDF documents back into a number of text formats such as .txt (text), html, or even in Word format.  Indeed these tools have been available before now but I don't always pick up on such things right away, there's just too much going on in the Web to keep up with everything.  That's why ETCS is always interested in hearing from you if you've found something new or unique that might help other Extension Associates do a better job, "on the job."

Now, you should know that a reverse conversion back into Word is not a one-step process, but it's pretty close.  Additionally the Acrobat Professional and Standard versions of the full program will convert PDF's directly into additional formats such as .rtf (Rich Text), .html, and .xml in addition to text format.


Convert directly from within the Adobe Reader software itself.  The Reader is included with your current computer set up, and an update is easily available from the Adobe Web site here,

  1. Open your file with Adobe Reader 8 or later.
  2. Once the PDF file is open—from the File menu choose, "Save as Text…"
  3. A "Save As" dialog opens allowing you to choose where to save the file in .txt format.
  4. Open the .txt document you just created and Copy/Paste this text into a new Word document and save it.
  5. Reapply formatting as needed.

You now have a Word version of your PDF document.


You may use the conversion tools available at Adobe's Web site.  From there you can convert a PDF document into text or HTML, and there are two ways Adobe will handle this for you.

Method A:
You can send the PDF file as an email attachment for conversion; this is handy if the file is on your computer or one of your local network connections.  Click the or link to attach your file for conversion.  Adobe will return the converted file for you as an attachment to your email inbox.  At present I've been able to get only the pdf2html, address to work but it seems effective and returned the converted file within ˝ an hour or so.

Method B:
You can use the tool on the Web page itself, just follow the directions below.

  1. Point your Web browser to;
  2. In the field provided enter the URL of the PDF you wish to convert (it must be on a publicly available Web page somewhere).
  3. Select the format you want, HTML or TXT.
  4. Optionally you can enter info about why you aren't using the converter in Adobe Reader.
  5. Select the platform you will view the page on, enter Comments if you wish.
  6. Click "Convert."
  7. Depending on their server load the converted document will be returned shortly in a new window.
  8. Create a new Word version by Copy/Pasting the text from the returned document.

If you need an html file from your PDF this seems to be the best method

Admittedly these tactics are a round-about way to get a Word document from your PDF file, but it works.  You will want to read the FAQ's at, because there are some limitations to the process.  This converter is designed to make a document readable via a screen reader so most formatting—except paragraphing—including images are stripped from the converted documents.

And finally if you like, it should be easy to find inexpensive software just by Googling PDF to DOC.


Last Revised: 03/04/09



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