How to cut and paste text from PDF to Word using Acrobat X or XI

Learn how to edit PDF files so anyone can cut and paste text from PDF to Word.

By Lori Kassuba – December 13, 2011


In this tutorial, learn how to edit PDF in Acrobat X or XI so anyone can cut and paste text from PDF to Word.

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How to cut and paste text from PDF to Word using Acrobat X or XI

Lori Kassuba – December 13, 2011

It sounds like it should be so easy to cut and paste text in Acrobat or Adobe Reader, to paste into another program like Microsoft Word. Quite often this works out simply by using the Select tool, which is the I beam and arrow command in the toolbar. I select the text, and click on the Edit menu, and use the Copy command. This will then place the selected text on the system clipboard, which allows it to be pasted in other programs.

Occasionally, however, you may find it’s not possible to cut and paste - perhaps the menu is grayed out like this file, or you simply cannot select the text on the page. If you cannot copy and paste content from a PDF, be sure to check that the document author has not set restrictions on copying the text. If they have, you'll see a lock icon on the left hand Navigation pane. And when you click on this, you can specifically see if copying text is allowed or disallowed.

Now if copying content is allowed, like in this next file, then the behavior of the Select tool can also provide hints about the file. For example, if the Select tool isn’t appearing as an I beam when you pass over the text, then the content is just an image. To enable text selection, you can try using the Recognize Text command, under the Tools pane, Recognize Text panel in Acrobat X Std. or Pro. Now when you select the In this File command, Acrobat will run an Optical Character Recognition process that will convert the image to selectable text and then this will allow you to copy the text in the document.

Requirements: Acrobat X Std. or Pro

Looking for more help on How to Edit PDF?

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Products covered:

Acrobat XIAcrobat X

Related topics:

Edit PDFs, Export PDFs

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Comments for this tutorial are now closed.

Lori Kassuba

4, 2015-08-06 06, 2015


It’s possible that the PDF document does not have text that you can cut/paste. It may be a scanned image. If you have Acrobat and not just the free Reader you can run the Text Recognition tool to turn the image into text that you can copy/paste.



7, 2015-08-06 06, 2015



7, 2015-04-13 13, 2015

How to copy paste from pdf file to Ms word, 2007


3, 2014-12-12 12, 2014

Is there any software through which anyone can check whether the data has been copied from PDF or has been typed?

Lori Kassuba

3, 2014-11-06 06, 2014

Hi Islam,

If the PDF has been copy-protected then you won’t be able to select and copy the text.



10, 2014-11-05 05, 2014

How to copy text from huge protected pdf document just read only , what should I do ?

Ileana Greere

4, 2014-04-03 03, 2014

I have a problem. When I try to copy a multi-line text, I can paste only the first line. How can I solve this?
Thank you.


3, 2013-09-23 23, 2013

SAJAN P PHILIP - You are a Genius!! Big thanks (:

Arthur Lichtenberger

3, 2013-08-18 18, 2013

I used to be able to copy/past from pdf documents just fine, but in the last few months when I past into the receiving document (word file, my email, anything) it pastes the text but it removes all the spacing between words. I also think that this started happening the same time when I am selecting the text in pdf (pro) that the text becomes highlighted with green crescents (each letter & space gets a crescent where there is a flat facing left on the cresent)... I don’t remember this happening before.  I have to go back in and put words spacing in… quite a pain. HELP :)

Lori Kassuba

3, 2013-07-11 11, 2013

Hi Edwin,

Thanks for letting us know you worked things out.


Edwin Reffell

8, 2013-07-07 07, 2013

My apologies. I opened the main Word program and it asked me if I wanted to replace any more. I said no and was then able to do Save as and close the documents. So now I want to thank you for your kind help. However I have found that it is much easier to copy to Adobe Reader and save as a text file because the text is perfect when pasted, no unnecessary spaces or breaks in any of the words in the text.

Edwin Reffell

8, 2013-07-07 07, 2013

Everything went fine until I wanted to press OK. Where is that option? No matter what I try to do (for example scrolling the text) the computer makes a noise and nothing happens. What I have is a document of which I can only see the last few lines and which I cannot close. It said press Esc to stop but that does not work. Have I done something wrong?


12, 2012-12-20 20, 2012

You might have faced difficulty in copy pasting from PDF to Word (MS Office 2007) while preparing Report and Your “Research Papers” :-P. Here I am providing an easy tutorial for doing that in an easier way. (This is my own experiment. Copy right protected :))

  Open a Blank New Document
  Copy and paste the content from PDF to Word document.
  Select the content and press “ALT+SHIFT+CTRL+S”
  A New window will be appeared on the left side. This is called “Styles” window.
  Select “Clear all” options from that.
  Now press “CTRL+F”.
  Select “Replace” in the newly opened window.
  Type “^p” in “Find What” area.
  Type a “SPACE” (Not the word Space) in the “Replace with” area.
  Click on “Replace All”
  Click “OK”.
  Clcik “Close”.
  You have done with that.
  “Happy Copy Pasting”

[Note: By seeing the number of steps, you may feel that it is difficult and I will go with the old “Delete Space” Method.
But if you try it once, you will see it very easy and useful. It is suitable for big document. Always do this formatting work in a new Blank document, otherwise it may affect the report which you are preparing]

If you find this easy and useful, don’t forget to say thanks to me.


5, 2012-01-18 18, 2012

How about paragraph marks when pasting multiple lines into a WP like MS Word?  Is there a way to suppres the paragraph marks from pasting with the text?

I’ve found that this depends on the program your pasting the text into (i.e., Word 2003, 2007, etc). This is a good question to post in the Ask a Question section on our site.


Comments for this tutorial are now closed.