How to edit PDF files in Word 2016/2013

Portable Document Format (PDF) is a common format for sharing final versions of files. The format is most used for viewing and not editing. But if you need to edit PDF files, Microsoft Word 2016/2013 brings a multitude of features to the word-processing table, one being the capability to edit PDFs.

Office 2010 provided the option to save a document as PDF, but Microsoft Word 2013 even allows editing of the content before sending it to the final recipient, as a PDF file. Although, full version of Adobe Acrobat allows users to modify PDFs, it’s more cumbersome than editing the original document in MS Office. Why so? PDF is technically an image file, converting this image file back to text needs sophisticated OCR like Adobe Acrobat X Pro or other tools. Adobe Free Reader therefore, does not allow you to modify the content in a PDF. With Word 2013, however, you can convert a PDF into a Word document and edit the content.

In this post, we will see how to edit PDF files in Word 2013.

Edit PDF Files in Word

When you install Office 2016/2013, you will notice that the context menu for any PDF file, has an option to open a PDF file in Microsoft Word, along with your other PDF Readers like Adobe Reader or Foxit and Windows Reader, if you are on Windows 10/8.

Go to any PDF file location, right-click on the PDF file, select ‘Open with’ option and choose ‘Word (desktop) to open it in Word 2013. When you open any PDF file in Word 2013,  it starts to convert it using Microsoft PDF Reflow.

Microsoft PDF Reflow, will convert all the files contents, including its formatting like paragraphs, lists, headers, columns, footnotes , tables, etc, into Word content. You will be able to edit even the tables. I tried with various smaller PDF documents and it kept all its formatting, even after the conversion. Then I also tried bigger-sized PDF’s like e-books (sized ~30MB) . It took a bit of time to convert – but it did its job. So, you can try large files too if you have some newer systems with more memory.

open with

Anyway, next, a dialog box with a message “Word will convert your PDF to an editable Word document. The resulting Word document will be optimized to allow you edit the text, so it might not look exactly like the original PDF, especially if the original file contained lots of graphics.” should appear on your computer screen.


Click the OK button to continue opening the file in Word 2013. Once it opens the PDF in Word, it will be in Read Only / Protected mode

Upon opening the file, Click the Enable Editing button next to the warning message to begin editing your PDF file. Once the editing is completed, click File, click Save as button to save the file. Here, remember, you cannot save the changes to the existing PDF file readily.

To maintain your changes, it is essential you  save the document with a new name or to a different location.

edit pdf files in word

So, if you get a pop bearing the same message do not be surprised. Try saving the PDF with a different name or save the file in Word or PDF format.

PDF file warning

Depending on the situation, one option may work better than the other:

PDF: If you don’t want to make any more changes to the document, save the edited document as a PDF file.

Word document: If you want to continue making changes to the document (or if you need second pair of eyes for approving the changes), save it as a Word document. You can always save it as a PDF file later on.

This is a great feature in Word 2013/2016, among many other cool features of Microsoft Office!

Hope you find this tutorial useful.

Now learn how to edit PDF Documents using Word Online. This post will show you how to remove Password from PDF.

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The author Hemant Saxena is a post-graduate in bio-technology and has an immense interest in following Windows, Office and other technology developments. Quiet by nature, he is an avid Lacrosse player. Creating a System Restore Point first before installing a new software, and being careful about any third-party offers while installing freeware is recommended.