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How to roundtrip comments between Acrobat X and Word

Learn how to add comments to a PDF in Acrobat X and then publish them back into Word.

By Dave Merchant – November 11, 2010


This video details how to add review comments to a PDF in Acrobat X and then publish them back into Microsoft Word.

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How to roundtrip comments between Acrobat X and Word

Dave Merchant – November 11, 2010

Adobe Acrobat has a whole range of flexible and robustdocument review and commenting tools, and in Acrobat X Pro we can of course extend commenting rights to users with the free Adobe Reader, distribute PDF files through Shared Reviews using network folders, email and the hosted service; automatically collecting and collating responses from all our reviwers in real time.

Now that's fine for PDF files, but wouldn't it be great if you could do the same thing with other file formats, such as Word documents?

Well with Acrobat X Pro and the power of PDF, you can!Here I have a document in Microsoft Word 2007, that I need to send around to our legal teams for corrections and comments.

I could just save the file as a PDF, perform a conventional Shared Review, then read the responses and make the changes by hand in the Word document - but that can be a real pain if the comments that come back contain lots of text changes, each of which I'd have to copy and paste by hand into the Word file.

What I really want to do is send out a non-editable copy in PDF, allow my team members to comment - including seeing posts by each other - and then apply all the changes directly to the Word file.So, I'm going to do precisely that - in the Acrobat ribbon I'll select the Create and Send For Review button.

The first thing I'm prompted to do is save the Word document as a PDF, not only to stop the reviewers from directly editing the text, but also to ensure all the fonts, page layouts, etc.

are exactly identical, even for those who use a different version of Office.All my reviewers will need is a copy of the free Adobe Reader software.I'll click Save, and Acrobat will begin converting the document to PDF.Acrobat X Pro opens and the Shared Review wizard begins.

I can choose where the master file and responses are located - on, on an internal company webserver, or a shared folder on a network drive.

As this is an internal, legal document and I'm distributing it to some employees, I'll place it on a network drive that I've already configured to allow those users read/write access - so I'll click Next, and I get to choose the folder location on my network...Click Next, and I can decide how I'm going to send the file - as an email message to my recipients right now, or whether I'll save a copy so I can send it later, or they can download it directly from the network drive.Also if I'm sending an email, am I going to attach the PDF or just send a link to the server?

It depends on the size of the document - this is quite small, so I'll send out email messages and keep it as an attachment, and click Next.I get to save the profile I've created so I can use it again in future - I'll click Next, and now all I need to do is add some email recipients, and click Send.The shared review file is automatically uploaded to the server, and an email message transferred through my email client to the recipients, containing the attached file.I can now make my own comments in the file, and collect comments from my reviewers by clicking the Check for New Comments button.Joining us after the comments have been collected, you can see we have a whole range of comment types - we have a couple of sticky notes, some text replacements, some insertions and some deletions.We now have a choice to transfer them back into Word - we can start within Word, and from the Acrobat ribbon we can choose Acrobat Comments / Import Comments from Acrobat;or we can stay in Acrobat and from the Options drop-down menu on the Comments List Panel, we can choose Export to Word.I'll stick with this latter option, but what happens from here on is identical in both cases.

First we're presented with a reminder of how the process works, so we can take a moment to make a backup of the original Word file, and decide on how to manage the change process.As the message points out, you can only run this export process on a paired set of files - the PDF must have been created from the Acrobat PDFMaker plugin for Word, and the PDF and Word document must match.

It doesn't need to have been part of a Shared Review, we simply need a PDF file with some comments in.

I'll click OK to begin the process.The currently-open PDF file is pre-selected as the source of the comments, so I just need to find the Word document used to generate it in the first place.I can choose which comments to import; I can send everything, only comments which can become direct text edits in the Word file (omitting our pair of sticky notes), or I can filter, for example by checkmarks in the Comments List, or by advanced filter options.

I'll choose to send everything - and I can also turn on Track Changes in the Word document - of course one advantage of this workflow is I'll always have the PDF as a detailed record of who said what, even if I don't tick the box,but I'll turn Track Changes on, and click Continue to transfer the comments into our native Word document.

Acrobat now gives us a dialog summary showing it's imported 8 comments into the Word file, 6 of which are applyable text edits, and 2 of which are other other types of comment - those relate to our two sticky notes.

We can now begin integrating these changes directly into the Word file by clicking Integrate Text Edits.I can now work through each comment and decide if I want to apply it or not.

If I turn on the option to automatically go to the next comment in the list,it makes it quicker to work through a whole series of comments.I'll discard this first set of options, apply the next one, and the next one, and the next couple - and I get a report at the end saying I've applied 4 changes, discarded 2, and there are 0 remaining changes to work through.

I can stop and restart the process at any time, but the comments will not be applied to the file until I finish the process, so I get a reminder of what to do next.If Track Changes is on, I can now merge the changes into the document by choosing Accept All Changes in Document from the Acrobat Comments menu.

This applies the changes directly to the Word file, and if there are any outstanding comments remaining, I can take action about them, and then I can choose to delete any remaining comments from the same Acrobat menu.This round-trip Shared Review process works in Office 2010 as well, and also in AutoCAD.

Combining the powerful commenting and review tools in Acrobat and Reader with your native document format will save countless hours of confusion and hard work, both for you and for your reviwers.

Products covered:

Acrobat X

Related topics:

Review and Comment

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