Unless you have Adobe Acrobat you can’t really edit PDFs. Yes, you can open, modify and export PDFs in newer versions of Word, Open Office and LibreOffice for example, but special fonts, complex vector graphics and longer documents may cause problems. However, if you only want to show changes to be made to the PDF and then pass the modified file on to, for example, a typesetter, then this can quite easily be done in the free Adobe Reader.
Some of you may be pretty familiar with annotating PFDs using Adobe Reader and wondering why I’m posting this. Well, as a proofreader, I’ve come across situations recently where authors have been unaware how to annotate their changes on a PDF. Some have ended up converting the PDF to MS Word doc format and making tracked changes there instead of just annotating the PDFs in Adobe Reader.
Here’s how to annotate your PDFs with Adobe Reader:
Open your PDF in Adobe Reader and click the Comment button at the top right corner of the screen. Alternatively, you can click View > Comment > Annotations. Hover over each icon in the Annotations pane to see what each tool will do. Then simply add a Sticky Note in the margin, or highlight text with your cursor and select the tool for example to Add Note to Replace Text. Each comment will be added to the Comment List below the Drawing Markup tools. You can also quickly navigate through all your annotations by clicking on items in the Comments List. Finally, when you’ve completed your annotations, save the PFD with a new name.
If you’re sharing PDFs with others who may be using different PDF viewers, I’ve found that the Sticky Note annotation tool is compatible across a range of PDF viewers. Any sticky note/note created in one reader can be dragged, minimised, viewed on mouse-over or edited in a variety of other viewers. If you don’t fancy Adobe Reader because it’s slow, blotted and is known to suffer from malware vulnerabilities, then PDF-XChange Viewer is another nice free alternative I blogged about some time ago.