How to edit a scanned PDF file using Acrobat XI

Learn how to edit scanned PDF using the new Content Editing panel in Acrobat XI.

By September 20, 2012


In this tutorial, learn how to edit scanned PDF that originated from a scanned document. This multi-step process involves running Text Recognition on your scanned document first and then using the Content Editing panel in Acrobat XI to edit PDF.

View transcript

How to edit a scanned PDF file using Acrobat XI

Donna BakerSeptember 20, 2012

Have you ever needed to edit the text in a PDF document that was scanned?

Just follow these 6 simple steps to edit text in a scanned PDF file using Acrobat XI Std. or Pro.

  1. Open your scanned file.
    click the Selection tool
    click anywhere over the page
    the blue highlight means the page is a single image
  2. Open the Text Recognition panel and click In this File.
  3. Click Edit in the Recognize Text dialog box to make changes.
  4. Select ClearScan in the conversion settings and click OK.
    an indicator shows the capture process
    choose ClearScan from the PDF Output Style choices
    click OK
    click OK again
    pick a language from the drop-down list if necessary
    pick a resolution for the converted images
  5. Open the Content Editing panel in the Tools pane and select Edit Text & Images.
  6. Insert your cursor in the text and begin typing.

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Products covered:

Acrobat XI

Related topics:

Edit PDF, Scan and Optimize

Top Searches:

Edit PDF files, convert PDF to Word, convert PDF to Excel, convert PDF to PowerPoint , Create PDF, convert scanned documents to PDFs, get started with Acrobat DC


Darshana Pangal

2 weeks ago

Very helpful! Thank you!

Lori Kassuba

3, 2015-11-04 04, 2015

Hi asmit badge,

To make a global font change like that, you’re better off exporting the PDF to Word and making the change there.


asmit badge

12, 2015-10-28 28, 2015

I have scanned documents(pdf) of 164 pages of textbook I want the whole text to be converted into Times New Roman as well as change the font size how can I do it ?

Lori Kassuba

12, 2015-10-22 22, 2015

Hi Doug,

Here’s one suggestion to remove blank pages:



6, 2015-10-20 20, 2015

Is there a way to delete “blank pages” all at once?

Lori Kassuba

2, 2015-10-15 15, 2015

Hi Vaidy Bala,

What format are your original scanned images in? TIFF? JPEG? How are you bringing them into Acrobat (what commands do you use)?


Vaidy Bala

6, 2015-10-08 08, 2015

I have a scanned document of 416 pages. When imported into Adobe/Acrobat XI, it is more distorted, page breaks, word breaks as if somebody wrecked more now than before. Fixing them is full time issue. Any HELP?

Lori Kassuba

12, 2015-05-06 06, 2015

Hi Karen,

I would suggest scanning from another application like MS Paint to a different format like TIFF to see if it’s a problem with the scanner.



11, 2015-05-04 04, 2015

I have a 1” thick line, running Vertical, thru all my scanned documents.  This just started this past week. I do not believe it is the printer, because I can copy and print from Word, without the line.  Any Suggestions…..Thanks so much.

Lori Kassuba

3, 2015-04-29 29, 2015

Hi Wayne,

Acrobat X and XI have some scan optimizing tools like deskew, background removal, descreen, and text sharpening that you can try. These are located under the Tools pane > Document Process panel.

You might also take a peek at the very latest version of Acrobat (DC) because the scanning adjustments were improved with Photoshop filters in this version.



5, 2015-04-28 28, 2015

Hello, I am a Pub Tech at APG, I have been assigned the duties of archiving a lot of military documents. Some of the date as far back as 1940. As you probably know after text documents get copied over and over the print starts curving. What can I do about this we have Adobe X Pro. We know Abbyfine has a “straighten Text tool” but I would just as soon stick with Adobe. Thanks Wayne

Patty Friesen

11, 2015-04-05 05, 2015

Salut Jeanne-Simone,

Pouvez-vous se il vous plaît poser votre question dans le forum Acrobat afin que nos experts peuvent vous aider de manière interactive :



Jeanne-Simone Saint Pol

9, 2015-04-05 05, 2015

Je possède Adobe Acrobat XI.
Est-il possible de transformer un fichier texte ou texte + imagePDF basse résolution en fichier PDF haute Quality pour impression ?

I have Adobe Acrobat XI .
Is it possible to convert a text file or text + Low resolution High Quality ImagePDF PDF file for printing?

Lori Kassuba

11, 2015-03-26 26, 2015

Hi Katie,

If the document author has not put form fields on the scanned form, then you’ll need to use the Add Text Comment tool located under the Comments pane to fill out the PDF. There isn’t a way to use the tab key when using the Add Text Comment tool because you need to place each piece of text.



2, 2015-03-19 19, 2015

If your scanned document is a document that has sections with lines that need to be filled in: Your name ______________ . How do I fill those out? And is there a way to tab over to the next one to fill them out faster, etc.?

Lori Kassuba

11, 2014-12-30 30, 2014

Hi Ong WS,

When filling out your form, make sure you’re using Adobe Acrobat or the free Reader and not Mac Preview to fill in your form.


Ong WS

10, 2014-12-23 23, 2014

hi, want to ask that why is that when key in text is gone when tap enter button? Once i finished to add the words in text form, i still able to read n see the words…however, when i tap enter, all the words is just gone or cnt see? pls help

Lori Kassuba

6, 2014-10-08 08, 2014

Hi Christopher Cotter,

You cannot download the video directly but you can grab a copy of the transcript in the link under the video.


Lori Kassuba

6, 2014-10-08 08, 2014

Hi Mike,

It’s best to do labels in a software labeling program.


Lori Kassuba

6, 2014-10-07 07, 2014

Hi Russ Raine,

What page size is listed for the page in the lower left corner?


Christopher Cotter

11, 2014-10-02 02, 2014

I’d like to save the video tutorial. Any way to do that? Thank you.

Russ Raine

8, 2014-10-01 01, 2014

I get an error message saying that OCR cannot be performed as the page is larger than max page size of 45 x 45 inches.  Original was letter size scanned at high res, but not sure of the actual resolution (HP printer/scanner so likely 600dpi or so?.  Any thoughts?  Tried dropping the dpi in the ocr popup to 150 dpi, but that didn’t help.


9, 2014-09-18 18, 2014

my file size is 3.75in. x 2.25in. but the Avery business card is 2.0in.x3.0in.(10/8.5x11.0 sheet). How do I resize the file to fit Avery’s template?

Lori Kassuba

10, 2014-07-23 23, 2014

Hi Regina,

This happens if you don’t have the original font on your system. You can go ahead and change it to one that you do have.



1, 2014-07-22 22, 2014

Hi I was able to edit the pdf but i couldn’t use the same font. It says “the original font FD 979 cannot be used ... “

Estelle Franklin

11, 2014-05-07 07, 2014

Works like a charm.  Thank you!

Eric Wu

11, 2014-04-22 22, 2014

Brilliant! It is very helpful.

Lori Kassuba

2, 2014-04-21 21, 2014

Hi Sachin Gundecha,

The ClearScan process does not replace the font with your system fonts. Instead, a custom font is created to match the visual appearance of the pixels. If you need an exact representation, then you need to use the Edit Text & Image cannot to apply the exact system font.


Sachin Gundecha

6, 2014-04-21 21, 2014

Very Helpful, but exact Font embedding is not observed, substituted fonts are good. But we should able to make these properties as default.

Because every time we need to stroke it black and fill black or as per colour need.


1, 2014-01-28 28, 2014

Thank you, now we all have a thorough understanding of how the birth certificate on the white house website was assembled !

Lori Kassuba

12, 2014-01-06 06, 2014

Hi Francois Melancon,

I see you also posted your question here:

I’ll post a suggestion there.


Francois Melancon

3, 2014-01-06 06, 2014

I get a message that OCR cannot be performed because the file contains renderable text. I tried to copy that text but nothing happens. Each scan behaves like an image despite the supposed renderable text. What is going wring?

I basically copied screen captures and cropped them in a word document, then made a pdf out of it. I want this to become a searchaeable pdf. How do I do this? I have adobe pro XI.


donna baker

5, 2013-10-29 29, 2013

Hi Kim -

If you get a message that the document contains renderable text, that means the OCR process has already been completed. You can’t capture text again.


donna baker

5, 2013-10-29 29, 2013

Hi Joseph -

Yes. Uninstall the program you want to move, and be sure to also deregister it. Then install on the computer where you want to move it, and re-register.



7, 2013-10-25 25, 2013

I tried this and it says that it can’t perform OCR because “THis page contains renderable text”
Howw do I overcome this?

Joseph Melino

3, 2013-10-23 23, 2013

I am interested in ProXI. But I want to move my current ProX to another laptop. Is there a way to accomplish that?

Lori Kassuba

1, 2013-10-23 23, 2013

Hi Jennifer,

There have been various improvements in OCR, but why don’t you try for yourself by downloading the free trial version of Acrobat XI?



11, 2013-10-23 23, 2013

Is this soemthing that has been improved with Acrobat XI?  I have been using Acrobat 9 & it’s hit or miss with the OCR working & when it does work it is very sketchy.  Thanks!!

Lori Kassuba

9, 2013-10-18 18, 2013

Hi mini,

When you see the message “Renderable text” it means that there is already searchable text on your page. At least part of the page already contains words that you can search on. You might try saving the page out as a TIFF file and then re-running the Text Recognition process to see if it corrects the problem.



8, 2013-09-29 29, 2013

hi!!!..pls help when i follow your step in text recognition(in this file)theres a message says the acrobat could not perform recognition(OCR)because it contain renderable text…what does it mean?...pls guide me i need to edit my paper work(a Certificate file)...thnks:))...

donna baker

3, 2013-09-08 08, 2013

Hi Kelly -

You can’t use Adobe Reader for modifying the content in the file. You need to be using the actual Acrobat program.



1, 2013-09-02 02, 2013

Hi Donna,

I am having trouble reducing the file size of my PDF. I need to reduce the file size to 1 MB max. I do not see File>Save as Other>Reduced Size PDF in my Adobe Reader XI program. Please help!

donna baker

11, 2013-07-25 25, 2013

Hi Angela -

I’m not sure what you’re describing. In many program, a checkered background is a way of identifying that transparent areas of an image or page. I’ve never seen that in Acrobat, however.



11, 2013-07-17 17, 2013

When using PDF file in any website or even pulling it up on my desktop…a checkered background appears. Do you know how to remove this checkered background?

donna baker

3, 2013-07-15 15, 2013

Hi Sally -

The command is still there in Acrobat XI. Choose File > Save as Other > Reduced Size PDF.


Sally Roberts

10, 2013-07-07 07, 2013

How do I reduce the file size of a pdf file I have downloaded?
In the previous version of acrobat - pro 9, I could go to Document then Reduce File Size, and often a huge file would be reduced many MBs.

donna baker

3, 2013-06-21 21, 2013

Hi Don -

Some of what you need to do is easy in Acrobat, such as the comment features. In terms of altering the drawings, it’s going to be more time consuming. You could probably use the Drawing Annotation tools, such as the line tool, to add what you need, but it won’t be a quick process.


Don Shoop

1, 2013-06-10 10, 2013

I have scanned floorplan drawings I need to add walls, doors, and other very simple changes to.  How do I alter my drawings and add text, arrows, comment boxes, etc., with Acrobat XI standard?

donna baker

12, 2013-06-04 04, 2013

Hi Jim -

There is a limit to what Acrobat can do. You’ll still have the disfigured page shape/content shape because it can deskew to a certain extent, but can’t change the perspective/orientation of part of a page.

You may not see OCR suspects if Acrobat defines the content with something that it thinks appropriate. However, if you copied a page and pasted it into Word you may be surprised at what you see.

By far, the best (and quickest) way to complete this task would be to rescan the book pages flatter, then start again.


James Robertson

11, 2013-05-28 28, 2013

I OCR’ed some pages (Acrobat XI Pro) that came originally from a pretty bad scan. It was a book, so some of the text was curved on the page following the curvature of the book’s spine, etc. After OCR’ing, the file I get keeps the crooked text crooked, and keeps mushed-together text near the spine as a non-text image (I think).

Is there a way to straighten the text so that it’s more legible?

Is there a way to replace the non-text with what I know the actual text to be? Interestingly the file gives zero OCR suspects so I’m not able to fix anything via the OCR machinery.

thanks, jim

donna baker

2, 2013-05-21 21, 2013

Hi Reine -

No, you can’t set a background color for basic text addition. As you mentioned, it does work with the Callout comment tool. How about adding your text, then also adding a rectangle comment stacked behind the text that you can color as you like?


Reine Shiffman

3, 2013-05-20 20, 2013

Is there a way with Acrobat XI to change the background color of the text box.  I don’t want to use the callout box because I want to type over something.

donna baker

1, 2013-05-06 06, 2013

Hi Evans -

If the page contains renderable text, that means there are already words and letters on the page and you can go ahead and edit. Trying to capture the text using clear scan doesn’t do anything as there aren’t any images of text to capture.



1, 2013-05-02 02, 2013

Hi, I use Acrobat Pro 10 and I cannot edit text on a scanned page. When I clear scan it says this page contains renderable text. What is renderable text? How com the delete key does not work in editing?

donna baker

6, 2013-04-11 11, 2013

Hi Mainak -

You’ll have to test your file to see what happens. There are a few ways to find what font is being used, of course. Regardless, when you select a piece of text on the page with the Edit Text & Images tool, you’ll see the font used in the Format area of the Content Editing tools. Activating your cursor within that text to edit will use the same font for your edits.



12, 2013-04-10 10, 2013

Will it allow to edit in the same font which the clear scan produces as I have read in other documents that it uses custom fonts.


donna baker

10, 2013-04-03 03, 2013

Hi Charles -

Certainly. If you use OCR and produce a text version of your scanned page you can then export it as a Word doc, docx, rtf, and plain text which works on both Mac and Windows.


donna baker

10, 2013-04-03 03, 2013

Hi Anders -

Click the Transcript link below the video to read the contents.


Charles P

1, 2013-04-02 02, 2013

Can you extract the text to save as a Pages (Mac) file? I bought other apps that purportedly allowed you to edit the text and when it didn’t work their “support” told me it did not do OCR. It was wasted money.

Anders Albjörn

11, 2013-03-30 30, 2013

I dont want a video. I want text!!!

donna baker

1, 2013-01-28 28, 2013

Hi Jags -

You didn’t specify the version of Acrobat you’re using, but the answer is Yes. For several versions now, Acrobat has been able to capture the text. The exact process varies according to the version of the program you’re using.


Jags Patel

5, 2013-01-21 21, 2013

Hi All,
I have Adobe Arobat Pro software, is it possible to edit a PDF file that originated from a scanned document using this software?


Nirmal Kumar

11, 2012-10-18 18, 2012

Very helpful and time saving ... I wasted a whole day for this…

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