I’ve been struggling with a bit of a problem for a while now. I often design page layouts in Illustrator or InDesign and provide the files to my clients as PDFs, but every once in a while the client wants to be able to go in and change a few things. Yes, I could create a document with editable fields, but for much of what I do that just isn’t realistic. Yes, I could suggest Adobe InCopy for some documents, but most of my clients have no need or desire to spend $50 per month on a year-long subscription to access a file now and then.
I searched and searched for a way to convert my original Illustrator and InDesign files, but it turns out I was barking up the wrong trees. What I should have been looking for was the best PDF to Word converter. Once I realized that I should be focusing on converting the PDF and not my native files, I tried exporting to a Word document from Adobe Acrobat Pro 9, but it was a horrible facsimile of the original. Perhaps version XI is better, but it’s not in my budget so I began to look for free and cheap ways of converting my PDFs.
I quickly narrowed it down to a few solid performers with free online conversion, with PDF Online and Nitro PDF being the best performers in retaining the design layout. Both have paid versions you can download, which helps when you have multiple or image-heavy documents. The PDF to Word converter that I am most interested in trying doesn’t allow a free trial however. The Adobe PDF to Word converter subscription service requires that you sign up for a year-long subscription, but at a mere $1.99 per month it’s quite affordable. I certainly have my issues with Adobe’s Creative Cloud subscription, but this is my top choice based solely on reputation.
I can only see the technology for converting PDFs to Word documents improving. Considering that Acrobat Pro 9 can’t even hold a candle to several free online services, I would like to think that someday a PDF to Word converter will come standard with MS Office. Are you listening Bill Gates?