Wednesday 14 December 2011

How can you modify electronic documents, especially PDFs?

With thanks to all at the viforum uk here is a string of answers on an important issue relating to electronic documents that I thought would be well worth publishing as it has  certainly puzzled me in the past.

Answer 1
Omnipage 17/18 is very efficient with PDF’s.  You can also export text from a PDF into Notepad, then do a ‘copy all’ and throw it into Word.  Provided your ‘Normal’ style is set to the font size etc. that you require.

Answer 2
Easyconvertor from Dolphin - not cheap but very effective and good backup/training available from Dolphin.

Answer 3
PDF Converter from Abbyy (same people who make FineReader OCR) has received rave reviews from some transcribers. FineReader is excellent at converting PDFs for hard copy if you need to change the font. Be aware that there are different types of PDF and the same methods don't always work with all of them - it depends how they were put together. Also, there is no way of knowing in advance.

Answer 4
I find Omnipage 17/18 very efficient with PDF’s.  You can also export text from a PDF into Notepad, then do a ‘copy all’ and throw it into Word.  Provided your ‘Normal’ style is set to the font size etc. that you require. 

Answer 5
Make good use of the PDF’s inbuilt accessibility options – eg colour change, magnification with reflow, autoscroll etc. PDFs can magnify far higher than Word documents and with reflow (View>Zoom>Reflow) switched on and autoscroll (View>Autoscroll) can often give far better reading experiences than magnification software. More info in the free Accessibility Essentials resource on Accessible PDFs – see for how to guides and animations.

Answer 6 
There is a free download for pdfs called ‘Doxillion Document Converter’. It is worth a look, have used it a few times to convert to Word, quick and easy.

Answer 7
Omnipage does the best job but why would you want to put files for Brailling into Word? The one certain way of eradicating graphics without having to fuss with them afterwards is just to save out from Omnipage into basic text. True, many Braille transcription programs claim that, from word, they will even retain original layout such as centering and so on, but no-one has yet convinced me that this is really the case.  Whenever we Braille direct from Word through Duxbury, the layout is truly haphazard to say the least! It certainly doesn't keep wrap-around paragraphs  and that kind of thing, so I now just save out as text and alter accordingly.  Of course Omnipage will only do as good a job as the quality of the original PDF--if it's a scanned PDF that is--but that is also true of  any conversion program.

Answer 8
I scan documents to a PDF using the school photocopier which is connected to the school network.  The school IT Technicians have installed Microsoft Office Document Imaging and I convert into a word document for embossing etc using that.  It is not always very reliable when the original is not on white paper or in italics (novels, textbooks).  I would love to have Zoomex from Humanware but its expensive – I think it would be very quick and easy to convert anything, even in the classroom using a laptop and text book it can instantly convert into an audio document.  If the teacher has not given you something to prepare it can be achieved.

Answer 9
I have used Nitro PDF Pro to convert documents to word which you can then edit to your requirements.

Answer 10 
Here’s a completely different strategy suggested by a blind colleague. It works if you have an iPhone/iPad and have installed the dropbox app on it. It won’t be appropriate for all types of PDF but it’s an approach that is used (and is useful) for blind iPad users.  Once you have the pdf on your pc, upload it to DropBox. Using the iPad, switch VoiceOver on. Start the DropBox app. Use VoiceOver to read the PDF.

Answer 11
If the PDF lets you, copy the text, and save it as text file; and if not then Omnipage will strip the text out for you. If I am using Omnipage I tend to save a Word document too if there are pictures (but as the previous reply said, for the text element cut and paste from the text file into your own formatted document).  If you want an ebook, Calibre (free download) can convert it for you from the PDF, to read on their programme on the PC or a Kindle. If you want speech, you can either read it out loud directly. In the PDF file, go to the View menu and select Read Out Loud to get the reading options. Alternatively convert the text to MP3 (several ways to do this too!).
If anyone has other ideas or solutions pleeeez post your comment...

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