Adobe vs. The World

“Another popular file format on the Internet is PDF, the short name for Adobe Acrobat files. Even the IRS offers tax forms in PDF format. The limitations of HTML make it impossible to create forms or other documents with rich layout and PDF has become the standard alternative. For now, Acrobat files are really only useful if you print them out, but Adobe is investing heavily in this technology and we may see this change soon.”  -Bill Gates in an internal memo to his Executive Committee, May 26, 1995


It seems that Adobe never really delivered on Gates’ predictions. Acrobat PDFs are still rather inflexible. There is some value in a PDF’s file size, which is considerably smaller than verbatim Word documents, sometimes to the tune of a 25% compression ratio. Still, the proliferation of alternative PDF readers and Google Chrome’s built-in viewer have endangered Adobe’s market share in what may as well have been a monopoly over the past 20 years.

Adobe’s move toward the cloud industry was seen as brilliant by some investors, but I saw it as a shrewd business decision intended to mitigate declining profits in their own obsolete software. In truth, Adobe software was never really able to play nice with anyone: Flash pissed off Steve Jobs in 2010, and Acrobat functions poorly within the browser that 60% of the world uses.

adobe crash


Meanwhile, I have been searching ravenously for a method of inserting entire PDF pages into my own Word documents. It seems easy, right? There should be a button somewhere on the PDF that says “Copy Page” and then another on your Word file that says “Paste PDF,” but there is no such option.

Indeed, cutting and pasting PDF text into a Word document is no problem. It’s highly intuitive, and you’ve probably done it before on unprotected Adobe Acrobat files. The primary issue I’ve been having is that the PDFs I’m using include tables and charts that don’t react well to simple cutting & pasting. For example, when I try to cut & paste PDF tables into my Word document, I get a text string of gobbledy gook. I need the tables intact, not just their content.

When scouring for a solution, I came across various work-arounds, but never a clear solution. I took screenshots of the PDF tables and inserted them into my Word document, but doing so for a 5-6 page budget proved time consuming, and don’t you dare ask me to make changes later. I also tried printing off the PDF and the Word document separately, ordering the pages the way I wanted, and then scanning them to myself as a single document. Unfortunately, this caused a significant loss in image clarity, making line items impossible to read, and also converted the entire document to B&W.

I eventually figured it out, and here is my interpretation of how to convert original PDF tables and charts for use in Microsoft Word documents:

Step 1: Follow this series of tabs on the PDF toolbar: File –> Export –> Image –> JPEG

Step 2: Save the PDF file as a JPEG file on your hard drive

Step 3: Follow this series of tabs on your Word toolbar: Insert –> Picture –> [the JPEG you just saved]

Note: the PDF will be saved into as many JPEG images as there are pages (i.e. a 3 page PDF will be converted into 3 separate JPEGs), so you may need to follow Step 3 multiple times to copy all the PDF content into Word.


There ya go. Good luck wrestling with both these programs until Google buys the entire internet and everything software related, and then standardizes every piece of code across all platforms.





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