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How to edit text in a scanned PDF with Acrobat X

Learn how to edit scanned PDF and OCR PDF, including how to edit text in a scanned PDF.

By Donna Baker – March 23, 2012


If a scanned to PDF document is a single image, you aren't able to select and use the text as is. In this tutorial, learn how to edit scanned PDF and OCR PDF, including how to edit text in a scanned PDF scan using Optical Character Recognition (OCR).

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How to edit text in a scanned PDF with Acrobat X

Donna Baker – March 23, 2012

On many scanned documents, you just click the Selection tool then click and drag to select some text on the page. Once the text is selected, you right-click over the text and then pick a command to copy, export, or use the text in other ways.

In this version of the same document, click the Selection tool and click the page with the tool to start the selection. It doesn’t always work! Instead of showing the Text cursor, the visible page turns blue. Zoom out, and you see the full page highlighted.

The scanned document doesn’t contain text and images. Instead, the page is a single image, so you can’t select and use the text as is. Acrobat can use OCR - (Optical Character Recognition) to define the text on the page. Click Tools to open the Tools pane, and then click Show or hide panels to open the menu. Click Recognize Text.

The Recognize Text tools open. Click In This File to open the Recognize Text dialog box. To check the settings, click Edit. When the dialog box opens you see the current page is already selected.

Click the drop-down arrow to pick a scan option. Of the three options—ClearScan works the best for most documents. Click to close the list. Click the drop-down arrow to pick a scan resolution. The 300 or 600 dpi choices are best for capturing text. When you’re done, click OK, then click OK to start the text capture.

Acrobat processes the page. Now you can select the text, right-click to open the shortcut menu, and reuse the text as you like.

Products covered:

Acrobat X

Related topics:

Convert JPG to PDF online, Scan and Optimize

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Comments for this tutorial are now closed.

Lori Kassuba

4, 2015-11-30 30, 2015

Hi jirages,

Are you using two different versions (or even point versions) of Acrobat? Try making sure both have all the latest point updates installed.



4, 2015-11-18 18, 2015

I have black and white scanned A4 pdf’s of several sources, of which some are editable, and 100% of the ones I scan at home, are not.

What I mean is when I open a downloaded scanned A4 text with a small image beside the text, I could easily choose the Touchup button,
click on image or paragraph, and with keyboard arrows, move the picture or graph left or right , up and down, or change its location.

On my scanned pdf’s, when I choose Touchup button and click anywhere on the page, it becomes all blue, and selects the whole page. (whilst I can still edit the whole page as one image, enlarge it, move it)
with or without ocr, no avail
The exact same pdf downloaded, I can edit any part
I scan the same paper at home, when I click on it, it chooses the whole page
i am going crazy for a solution
thank you very much

Lori Kassuba

3, 2015-09-14 14, 2015

Hi Jack,

If you have a lot of corrections, then the best thing to do is export your scanned OCR PDF to Word and make the corrections there. Then, recreate the PDF (if that is your final format).



4, 2015-08-22 22, 2015

I have scanned a document but on checking it I have corrections that need to be made how do i do this without retyping the whole 12 pages.

Lori Kassuba

4, 2015-07-29 29, 2015

Hi wale,

You’ll need the desktop version of Acrobat DC in order to do advanced editing of a scanned document.



6, 2015-07-27 27, 2015

Goodday Ma,please how do i edit a document i scanned from my card reader in my machine. would like to edit it on spread sheet

Lori Kassuba

1, 2014-09-26 26, 2014

Hi lucybelle,

You’ll need Acrobat and not just the free Reader to create a PDF from a scanner.



2, 2014-09-24 24, 2014

hello mam can ask your help regarding my scanner, i was worry cause when i scan some documents and picture i cant rotate and also i cant transfer all the doc and photos in the fb, it is said that the time new roman is in a bad box i do worry a lot cause the highlight there is color gray i been in the adobe reader x to fix but i do worry it might worsen the laptop and wish my question here will be answer,thanks mam

Lori Kassuba

3, 2014-09-15 15, 2014

Hi sindhu,

Here is a link to the 30-day trial of Acrobat XI Pro:



3, 2014-09-13 13, 2014

how to download adobe acrobat pro
please assit me
i need to copy the characters

Lori Kassuba

3, 2014-09-05 05, 2014

Hi Michael,

If you don’t use the process outlined in this tutorial to convert the scan to PDF for editing purposes, you can try just using the Add Text command in the Content Editing panel in Acrobat XI to add your text.


Lori Kassuba

2, 2014-09-05 05, 2014

Hi daniel,

You’ll need Acrobat to edit a scanned PDF file (limited editing). Otherwise I would suggest using the online service called ExportPDF to export your scanned PDF to Word where you can edit it fully:

Just be aware that there is a 100 Mb limit on the filesize for this service.



10, 2014-09-03 03, 2014

Hello i wonder is there a way to add a new line in a scanned document ?


6, 2014-08-30 30, 2014

Dear All Expert.

I have soft copy of scanned copy in my mail in pdf and image form.
Request you all to guide me how I can editing on those.

Request to revert me asap.


Lori Kassuba

5, 2014-08-22 22, 2014

Hi Shyam,

You’ll want to report this issue here:



7, 2014-08-20 20, 2014

Thanks for your swift response, Lori.

This is just regular PDF doc where I have delete a text box in it. After deleting the page it automatically takes me to a different page and so I have to scroll up or down to do the editing work.


Shyam Palani

Lori Kassuba

8, 2014-08-19 19, 2014

Hi Shyam,

I’m not sure what’s happening but to be sure I’d need to take a look at the file your attempting to edit. Can you send a link to a copy that I can download?



11, 2014-08-19 19, 2014

When I delete a text box (whilst editing), automatically it takes me to a different page. Every time I delete a text box I have to return to the actual page from the page had took me.

Could some one let me know how to delete a text box/check box (Under editing option) with out moving/changing the actual page (where I have to delete text box)

Answers awaited and it will be extremely helpful if someone could answer this.


Lori Kassuba

3, 2014-08-12 12, 2014

Hi umabala,

You’ll need Acrobat and not just the free Reader to edit text in a scanned PDF. As detailed in this tutorial, first run the Text Recognition using the ClearScan setting. Then use the Edit Text & Image command to change the text.



5, 2014-08-06 06, 2014

Hai i want to delete a line and change a new line in a scanned document how can i do it please replay me

Lori Kassuba

10, 2014-07-01 01, 2014

Hi Rod,

This is the default font when using the Edit Text & Images command. You’ll just need to remember to change it when editing a PDF file.



4, 2014-06-30 30, 2014

I am having issues when I try to edit text in a document I scanned and run through OCR. Whenever I edit any text, Acrobat does not recognize the correct font, it usually tries to substitute to Minion Pro.  This is the case even where I know the font in the document is a system installed font, such as Arial.

donna baker

9, 2014-01-21 21, 2014

Hi Sivakumar -

Yes, that’s correct. Scan the replacement content and open the document that needs the new pages. In the Page Thumbnails panel, choose the Replace command from the dropdown menu. Specify the pages to replace, and the new pages in the dialog boxes, and only those pages are adjusted.


Sivakumar K

1, 2014-01-15 15, 2014

If I scan a loan document containing say 10 pages, save it as a pdf, and in case there are changes to only 1 page, I need to rescan all the pages, I am told that in Acrobat, you have a feature to remove only the page which has to be changed and replace with the correct page. Pls guide.

donna baker

6, 2013-11-29 29, 2013

Hi Connie -

There’s something the program isn’t reading in your file with regards to its internal code. Save the file with another name, as the note requests. Then you might want to choose Help > Repair Acrobat Installation (Windows) and let the program go through its installed components and make any required corrections.



3, 2013-11-21 21, 2013

I am getting an error when I edit a pdf and try to save as the same name.

“The document could not be saved.  The file may be read-only, or another user may have it open.  Please save the document with a different name or in a different folder.”

donna baker

7, 2013-07-15 15, 2013

Hi Igni -

You’ll need to use the Edit Text & Images tool in order to activate the content and tools.


donna baker

6, 2013-07-15 15, 2013

Hi Daniel -

Thanks so much for taking the time to post how you solved the issue with accumulated text errors. I’m sure it’ll be useful for someone else encountering the same issue down the road.


Igni Ferroque

3, 2013-07-09 09, 2013

I want to edit a scanned form. Opened the PDF in Acrobat IX PRo, recoqnized the text, but I can’t simply delete it. Please advise how to do it.

Daniel Holt

2, 2013-05-13 13, 2013

While trying to run OCR on a document that someone else had scanned I ran into the “Accumulated text . . .” error yesterday.  I found this thread while trying to troubleshoot it.  I eventually found an easy fix that worked for me. If you experience this problem, try what I did.

In Acrobat Pro X (Mac) I clicked on Recognize Text>In This File in the Tools panel. In the Recognize Text dialog box that opened, I clicked on Edit and then changed PDF Output Style from Searchable Image (Exact) to Searchable Image. Then I clicked OK in the edit box and again in the dialog box. After Acrobat was finished running its text recognition I found that I could now correct problems (Suspects) without running into the “Accumulated text” error. Try this if it seems to apply to you.

donna baker

5, 2013-05-06 06, 2013

Hi Clipping Path -

I hope I understand what you’re asking. In order to edit the PDF text you can’t have an image of the text. Instead it must be captured text and images.

Open your document, then click Tools to open the panel. Look for the Text Recognition tools. If you don’t see the tools, click the menu icon at the top right of the Tools panel to open the list of tools and click Text Recognition. When the tools open, click In This File, and Acrobat will process the document to create editable text and graphics.




Clipping Path

10, 2013-04-29 29, 2013

I want to edit my PDF text. If i’m not wrong so i think do not edit PDF file with picture .

donna baker

4, 2013-03-26 26, 2013

Hi Diana -

Yes you can, although it’s not a formal process. Scan the document and don’t bother with the OCR process. Then use the Add or Edit Text Box in the Content tools to include your content. I’m not sure what you mean by an application though.



11, 2013-03-05 05, 2013

Hi, if I scan a document that is sent to me into a pdf format, can I use Acrobat XI Standard to open it and then fill in information?  If lets say the document is an application of sorts.  Help!

donna baker

6, 2013-03-05 05, 2013

Hi Thulasareem -

The message you receive isn’t necessarily an error, rather information for you to decide how you’d like to proceed. Acrobat uses a number of default fonts which make the documents look standard regardless of where you view them.

In your file, you are using fonts other than the default fonts, and don’t have them embedded. That means, when your user views the page it may or may not look the same depending on the font used as Acrobat will substitute one of the default fonts if the user’s computer doesn’t include the font found in the document. You have a few choices.

If the visual layout of the document isn’t critical, just dismiss the message and carry on.

If the message concerns you, return to the source document, and embed the fonts prior to exporting as PDF. That increases the file size slightly, but not an appreciable amount.

If you prefer not to embed fonts, return to the source document and replace your non-standard fonts with Acrobat default fonts.

You can read more here:



11, 2013-02-26 26, 2013

Dear Sir/Madam,

Kindly advise the way to rectify the errors for “PDF documents using not embedded, non-standard fonts”.

donna baker

6, 2013-01-15 15, 2013

Hi Ross -

You sometimes get that message when you open a PDF document that wasn’t created on your computer. You need to edit the document text first.

Here’s a page explaining how to repair the issue:


8, 2013-01-03 03, 2013

Hi Donna,

I am receiving the following error when I attempt to alter the text within the scanned PDF after following the steps outlined in the tutorial: “All or part of the selection has no available system font. You cannot add or delete text using the currently selected font.” Is there a way to get around this.

Thanks for your help.


donna baker

6, 2012-11-12 12, 2012

Hi Geoff -

Sorry for the confusion, but I wasn’t understanding your issue at all. I’ve downloaded the file you reference, and ran into the same issue at the same location. There is a solution, although you need to dig into the Content pane.

1. Open the Content pane, then open Page 14 (page 173 of the text).
2. Look for an object named Container <Artifact> Downloaded from… - in my copy that’s the second Container.
3. Right-click the Container object and click Delete. The content is removed from the paper.
4. Repeat with your next page.

I also tried editing it by adding tags to the document, hunting down the offending tags, and deleting them, but just manipulating the Content was much quicker.

Sorry for being obtuse, but I hope at last that your problem is addressed properly.


donna baker

9, 2012-11-05 05, 2012

Hi Geoff -

Sorry, but I don’t know how many more ways to say that yes, you can edit the visible text in a scanned PDF after capturing. If you’re referring to the underlying characters, yes that can be edited as well. In that case you are looking for OCR Suspects, which isn’t in any way the same as editing text. Once the text has been captured, click Find First Suspects in the Text Recognition tools, and proceed through the document, accepting/rejecting/modifying characters as presented. Not all documents will identify OCR suspects.


Hi Donna,

Thanks for your reply, but the problem is not solved. The specific issue I’m dealing with is the error message that Amit mentions above - “Accumulated text within the attempted selection area is rotated other than horizontal or vertical. Touchup cannot create a text selection.”

Maybe I’m in the wrong thread, but you say to re-scan the document, but it’s not my document. It’s a paper from a journal. You can download the pdf version yourself for free at . (It’s a journal of the Royal Society of the UK, a scientific institution). If you download the paper, you will see there is a downloaded date comment at the top of the page. There is no problem to delete this message at the top of most pages using “Tools”, “Advanced Editing” and “TouchUp text tool”. However, trying the same method on pages 173 and 174 gives the error message mentioned. I’ve had this same problem with dozens of downloaded papers from numerous journals.

There is no visible evidence that the page is rotated in any way. If you can help solve this problem or help to find another thread that can address it it would be greatly appreciated.



7, 2012-11-03 03, 2012

Amazing the same question gets asked over and over again with no good answer. Doesn’t Adobe take some responsibility for these kinds of problems?

Hi Geoff,

This tutorial can help if you experience the “Accumulated text within the attempted selection area ...” error:


donna baker

4, 2012-06-04 04, 2012

Hi Amit -

It sounds like you didn’t test/adjust the rotation when you performed the scan. If you can, please rescan the document. Before you start the scan, in the Acrobat Scan dialog box, click the Options button (at the right in the Document Settings section of the dialog box), then make sure the Deskew filter is set to On.

Then your scan should be square on the page, and you can edit the text.


Amit Sehgal

12, 2012-06-04 04, 2012

Doesn’t work in certain instances.

After recognising the text with a clearscan as followed - I then highlight the text I want to edit, and when I right click and select properties, I get the error:

“Accumulated text within the attempted selection area is rotated other than horizontal or vertical. Touchup cannot create a text selection.”

A bit of a joke really :(

donna baker

1, 2012-05-22 22, 2012

Hi Kenya and Balanagendra -

Yes, you certainly can edit the text in the PDF. The point of making text searchable means you have selectable characters and words rather than the appearance of characters and words. If you can select the words, you can edit them using the Edit Document Text tool.


4, 2012-05-10 10, 2012

This does not help you edit the text. It only helps make it searchable. Is it possible to edit the text after making it searchable? Thanks

Yes, you can edit text after your OCR your PDF. This quick tip will explain how to edit text in a scanned PDF:


Balanagendra Kumar

8, 2012-04-14 14, 2012

I want to edit the text copied in PDF. Can anybody help in this regard?

Comments for this tutorial are now closed.