How to Convert a PDF to Word: A Step-by-Step Guide

How to Convert a PDF to Word: A Step-by-Step Guide

Converting a PDF document to a Word file can help you edit or repurpose content, but it can be a daunting task for many people. Whether you’re looking to edit a document, convert an e-book, or simply transfer content between different platforms, converting PDF to Word can be a frustrating process. The good news is that there are various methods to perform the conversion, ranging from free online tools to sophisticated software solutions. In this article, we will walk you through the process step by step and compare different methods to help you find the best tool for your needs.

Step-by-Step Guide

There are several ways to convert a PDF to Word. Some methods are straightforward and free, while others require more steps or come with a cost. Here are some of the most commonly used methods:

Using Online Conversion Tools

Online conversion tools such as SmallPDF, Adobe Online, and FileZigZag are convenient and easy to use. They don’t require any software installation or fees, and you can access them from any device with an internet connection. Here’s how to convert a PDF to Word using SmallPDF:

  1. Go to the SmallPDF website and select “PDF to Word” from the menu.
  2. Upload the PDF file that you want to convert.
  3. SmallPDF will start the conversion process, and once it’s complete, you can download the Word file to your computer.

Other online conversion tools work in a similar way. Some tools even let you convert PDF files to other formats such as Excel, PowerPoint, or JPG.

Using Word’s Built-In Converter

If you have a recent version of Word installed on your computer, you may be able to use its built-in converter to import a PDF file. This method requires no additional software or fees, but it may not work well for PDF files with complex layouts or designs. Here’s how to use Word’s built-in converter:

  1. Open a new Word document.
  2. Select the “File” tab in the top-left corner and then click “Open.”
  3. In the “Open” dialog box, choose the PDF file that you want to convert.
  4. A dialog box will appear, asking if you want to convert the file. Choose “OK.”
  5. Word will convert the PDF file into a Word document, which you can edit or save as needed.

Using Third-Party Software

If you handle a lot of PDF-to-Word conversions, you might want to invest in third-party software such as Adobe Acrobat Pro DC, Nitro PDF, or Able2Extract. These software solutions offer more advanced features such as batch conversion, OCR (Optical Character Recognition) scanning, and advanced editing tools. However, they usually come at a cost and require substantial system resources. Here’s how to convert a PDF to Word using Adobe Acrobat Pro DC:

  1. Open Adobe Acrobat Pro DC and select “File” from the top-left corner.
  2. Select “Open,” then choose the PDF file that you want to convert.
  3. In the “Tools” panel, click “Export PDF.”
  4. Select “Microsoft Word” as the export format, then choose “Word Document.”
  5. Click “Export” and choose the location where you want to save the Word document.

Other third-party software may work differently, but most should have a similar option to convert a PDF file to Word.


When choosing a method to convert a PDF to Word, there are several factors to consider: cost, quality, and ease of use. Here’s a summarized chart comparing the different methods of converting PDF to Word:

Method Cost Quality Ease of Use
Online Conversion Tools Free or low cost Good for simple PDF files Very easy
Word Built-in Converter Free (if you already have Word) May not work well for complex PDF files Easy
Third-Party Software High cost Best for complex PDF files Somewhat difficult

The Best Tools

Based on our comparison, the best tool for you may depend on your needs and budget. However, there are some tools and software solutions that stand out from the rest:

Adobe Acrobat Pro DC

Adobe Acrobat Pro DC is one of the most comprehensive solutions for editing PDF files. It’s packed with features such as OCR scanning, electronic signatures, and cloud storage. However, it can be expensive for individual users, with a monthly subscription cost of $14.99 if you pay annually.


SmallPDF is a popular, easy-to-use tool for converting PDF files to various formats. It’s free to use for basic tasks, but users have to pay for some advanced features such as batch conversions or file size limits.

Able2Extract Professional 16

Able2Extract Professional 16 is a powerful PDF to Word converter that offers advanced features such as custom PDF-to-Excel conversion, PDF annotations, and redaction tools. It’s a good choice for businesses or individuals who work with a lot of PDF files. However, it’s pricier than other options, with one-time payment starting at $149.95.

Other notable tools include Nitro Pro, Foxit PhantomPDF, and PDFelement. As always, make sure to research before you buy any software solution, and try out free trials if possible.

Video Tutorial

If you prefer a visual guide, here’s a video tutorial on how to convert a PDF to Word using Adobe Acrobat Pro DC:

Benefits of Converting

Converting a PDF to Word offers several benefits, especially in a business environment:

Edit or Repurpose Content

Converting a PDF to Word allows you to make changes or additions to the document. This can be useful if you need to update a contract or proposal, or if you want to create a presentation based on existing content.

Searchable and Editable Text

Converting PDF to Word makes the document text searchable and editable. This can save you time and effort if you need to find a particular piece of information or make changes to the text.

Work Across Different Platforms

If you’re collaborating with others who use different software or platforms, converting a PDF to Word can help ensure that everyone can access and edit the content. Word files are widely compatible and can be opened on most devices and software.


Converting PDF to Word can sometimes encounter problems such as formatting issues or missing text. Here are some tips to troubleshoot common problems:

Formatting Issues

If the converted Word document appears messy or has different fonts and styles, try adjusting the options in the conversion tool or selecting the right format (DOCX vs. DOC). If that doesn’t work, you may need to manually format the document using Word’s tools.

Missing Text or Images

If the converted Word document is missing parts of the original content, try adjusting the scanning settings or using a different conversion tool. Some tools may not scan images or non-standard fonts correctly.


Converting PDF to Word can be a time-consuming and frustrating task, but with the right tools and knowledge, you can simplify the process and achieve your goals. We hope this article has provided valuable insights and practical tips for converting PDF to Word. Don’t hesitate to share your own experience or ask questions in the comments section.

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