I hear some version of the following question over and over:
“Which software accurately converts PDF to Word?”
Converting PDF to Word (or other word-processing applications, HTML or whatever) is not a simple, push-button affair, as almost everyone who has ever tried it knows (thus the questions).
Even so, most people are looking for a simple, push-button way to get the contents of a PDF into a Word file. What’s the typical experience? Documents with layouts even slightly more complex than vanilla paragraphs routinely convert into junk. End-users expect this task to be pretty easy – which explains why the tone of the typical inquiry may be characterized as “pained”.
Let’s take a moment to understand why converting PDF to Word is so problematic.
The factors influencing the quality of conversion from PDF to Word are, in descending order of significance:
- The extent to which the document’s logical structures are represented within the PDF (tagging)
- The complexity of the objects on the page (mathematics, charts, graphs, etc)
- The complexity of the document layout
Factor 1 is a property of the PDF file itself, not the software used to extract the contents to Word. If the document is properly structured and tagged, predictable results may be had in converting to Word from Adobe Acrobat.
Beyond Factor 1, different software will guess at logical structure via analysis and assessment of the layout, fonts and objects on the page. There is no magic bullet. The more complex the document, the lower the chance of high-quality output, no matter what software is used.
by Duff Johnson