Are you looking to convert a PDF to text?
This is one of the most common issues that many of us face from time to time. Whether we are in the office, working on a school assignment, or just doing personal administration, it’s an essential task.
Many people get scared off by the prospect of converting a PDF to text because it can sound quite technical. But there is no reason at all to fear PDF conversion!
In this article, we will explain to you exactly to convert PDF to text with no hassle!
What Is a PDF File?
Before we work out how to convert PDF to text, it is useful to get our heads around exactly what a PDF document is. This will help us to understand exactly what is going on when we go through the process of conversion.
First off, PDF stands for Portable Document Format. It was invented in 1993 by a commonly known software producer called Adobe.
In its’s technical form, it is referred to as ISO 32000. The ISO bit stands for International Organization for Standardization, which is an organization that works to provide standardizations across all different types of industries.
What Is a PDF Used For?
When Adobe originally invented the PDF file format, they did so because they wanted to create a file type that would be accessible across all different types of computer operating systems. This is the biggest reason why PDF documents are so common.
Whether you are using a Mac or PC or any other operating system, you will be able to open PDF documents.
The PDF document is a fairly basic file type that can support both images and text, which makes it quite adaptable to different contexts.
But just because the PDF file is useful and versatile doesn’t mean we don’t sometimes need to convert one!
Importantly, the PDF file format was originally developed as a presentation document. This means that it is often not great for editing (even though it is possible to edit them). But this is the whole reason why PDF to text conversion is so important!
How Are PDF Documents Converted?
Now we get to the technical side of things. The way that PDF documents are converted to text is through a process known as OCR.
OCR stands for Optical Character Recognition.
As the name suggests, OCR software works by reading text and understanding what each character is on the text. Because OCR is a form of artificial intelligence, it does not always work perfectly.
You may have noticed, for example, that poorly photocopied documents are sometimes recognized with incorrect spellings when you try to copy and paste their text. This is because OCR software works by actually comprehending the shape of each character.
So, if the photocopy is grainy, or if the document uses a strange font, the OCR software can sometimes interpret the wrong character.
But, you probably don’t have to worry about this for most documents. Also, character recognition technology has really come a long way now, so pdf to text conversions are usually very accurate.
How to Convert PDF to Text
There are two main options that you have when it comes to a PDF to text conversion. The first of these is to simply copy and paste the text of the document into some kind of text file.
The second option is to use a dedicated PDF to text conversion software that uses OCR. Let’s look at both of these in detail.
Copy and Paste
Now, the copy-and-paste method is very straightforward, but it only works if the PDF document comes with metadata regarding the characters that it contains.
For example, when you create a document in Microsoft Word, you can convert that document to a PDF. When you do the conversion, you will still be able to highlight and copy text from within the file.
So, if the file you have can be copied and pasted, the process is quite straightforward. You can copy the text and then paste it into some kind of file format that supports text. The two most common file formats that do this are ‘.doc’ and ‘.txt’.
When you copy and paste in this way, you may find that the formatting of the original file appears quite differently in your new text file. So, you may need to spend a little bit of time tidying it up.
But if, when you try to highlight the text in your PDF the cursor cannot highlight the characters individually, you will need to use the next method.
The other PDF to text option you have is to use a dedicated conversion software. This is the kind of software that will use OCR technology.
There are many different converters available for free on the internet, so it’s not very difficult.
But, as noted above, you may find that the conversion does not work so well if the original document is not particularly clear.
Once you do the conversion, you can then do the same thing as with the copy and paste method: go through and fix the formatting so that the text document reflects the original file format.
Don’t Stress with Your PDF to Text Conversion
Often, we find ourselves stressing over technological issues. This is particularly the case when we are wasting time at work or when it is late at night and we have an assignment due the following day.
Doing a PDF to text conversion is one of those things that we can find ourselves trying to do and just banging our head against the wall about how difficult it is. But just remember that if you are having this problem, then the most likely thing is that millions of people before you have had it as well.
So, try not to stress, find yourself a good converter, and get on with your work with no worries weighing you down!
If you’ve found this information useful, why not check out some of our other great articles on tech topics?