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How to Copy and Paste Text From a PDF Document (Examples)

January 31, 2022
Author
Inkit Team

If you’re like most people, you’ve tried copying text from PDF after downloading it or viewing it online, only to find that it’s not readily possible to do so. The good news is that there are ways to get around this common problem.

Below, you will learn how to copy and paste text from a PDF document, thanks to our guide and easy-to-understand examples. 

Here’s what we’ll cover:

  • How to Check Your PDF Content Copying Permissions
  • How to Copy And Paste Text From a PDF With Adobe Reader
  • 3 Paste Options In MS Word to Control Your Copy Formatting
  • Copy Entire PDF File or Multiple Items to Clipboard
  • Copy Paste Keyboard Shortcuts Explained

So don’t fight with your PDFs any longer; keep reading to find what you need to do to get the text you need.

How to Check Your PDF Content Copying Permissions

When copying and pasting text to-and-from PDFs, you have a couple of options and settings you need to be aware of.

This might differ based on the tool you use, but the main idea will be the same.

First, you’ll want to confirm you can actually copy text from your PDF.

Content copying security settings in PDF documents

To do this, you can simply try to modify the text in your open document.

Or, to confirm your full PDF restrictions summary, right-click the document in an empty space and click Document Properties.

pdf document properties


Then, go to the Security section to see if content copying is allowed.

pdf document restrictions summary


If that’s the case, we can move on and show you all the ways to copy text, images, and more from your PDF files.

How to Copy And Paste Text From a PDF With Adobe Reader

Adobe is the original creator of the PDF, so it stands to reason that it would have an option to manipulate this format fairly easily. Indeed, Reader allows you to copy content (unless the PDF author has disabled copying).

To open a password-protected PDF document, you will need to use the password designated by the author. As such, you might not be able to print, edit, or copy content from certain secured documents. 

Any tools or menu items that are related to restricted features will be dimmed in Reader if a document contains them. If this is a problem, contact the author of the PDF if you have difficulty opening the PDF or check out our guide if you forgot your PDF password.

Once you have confirmed that copying content is permitted, follow these steps to copy text or images you need from the PDF:

How to copy text from a PDF with Adobe Reader

1. Right-click on the document and select “Select Tool” from the pop-up menu.

2. Drag to select text or click to choose an image. 

3. Right-click on the item or text you wish to copy.

pdf copy text how to

Now, let’s take a look at how to copy images.

How to copy images from a PDF with Adobe Reader Snapshot tool

The snapshot tool in Adobe Reader copies the selected area as an image so that you can paste it into other applications.

The process is simple:

1. Click Edit.

2. Select an area of the image you want to copy with the rectangle.

3. Let go of the mouse button to confirm your selection. You should then receive a confirmation pop-up box in Adobe Reader.

how to copy images from pdf with adobe snapshot tool

Simple, right?

However, keep in mind that you can’t copy tables from PDFs this way.

As the selected area will be copied as an image file. You can convert JPG or PNG screenshots to PDFs but the interactivity of it will be lost.

Instead, here’s how to copy a table element from a PDF file

How to copy tables from a PDF with Adobe Reader

1. Right-click on your PDF file.

2. Choose Open with.

3. Open it with MS Word (or any other .docx editor app).

4. A window will open with a message saying your PDF will be converted to an editable Word document. Press OK.

how to open pdf file with ms word

Now, MS Word will convert the full PDF document into an editable Word file format.

So, if you want to copy just the table from your PDF to a separate Word document, here’s how you can do that:

1. Click on the move icon in the top-left corner of your PDF table. This will select the data table.

2. Then, right-click on the table and press Copy. Or press CTRL+C for the shortcut.

how to copy data table from ms word

How to paste a table from a PDF document onto MS Word

  1. To paste it, open your designated space, right-click on free space in the document, and press Paste. Or, press CTRL+V for the shortcut.
  2. Here, you can paste and keep source formatting, paste and merge formatting, paste as text only.
how to paste data table from pdf to ms word

Be sure to check out our full guide to converting PDF to CSV for more info on this!

Now, wondering what’s the difference in the different ways you can paste the text?

Let’s take a look!

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3 Paste Options In MS Word to Control Your Copy Formatting

Whether you’re copying text, images, or data tables from a PDF, you should know the ways you can paste it into a new document.

This will affect the formatting of your text and the readability of your document.

So, it’s important to understand the difference.

You have 3 paste options with MS word and other text processing applications.

  • Keep source formatting - As the name implies, this will keep the look of the original text you're copying from the PDF document.
  • Merge formatting - This paste option will change the formatting of the text you're copying so that it matches the text you're pasting it into. In most cases, you’ll want to go with this option so that your text font is consistent across the document and it’s easier to read the text.
  • Keep text only - This will remove all of the original formatting from the text you copied.

Need more info on managing or editing PDF documents with Adobe Reader?

You might also want to know:

Copy Entire PDF File or Multiple Items to Clipboard

What is copy to clipboard?

This simply means that when you copy something, your selection is held onto in the MS Word Clipboard section.

Then, it stays here until you close Word or shut down your computer.

What makes the Clipboard such an effective feature is that you can copy up to 24 items from Office documents or other programs to paste onto other Office documents.

This way, you can copy and paste the same data multiple times across different applications or copy and paste multiple items with the Office Clipboard.

  • To paste items one at a time, open the Clipboard task panel, and find each item you want to paste.
  • Or, to paste all the items you copied, click Paste All.
ms word how to copy paste clipboard panel

Now, all of the above step-by-step copy and paste options we covered for Adobe Reader and MS Word. 

But almost all PDF and .docx file management tools should have the same feature to allow you to copy and paste text properly.

Copy Paste Keyboard Shortcuts Explained

If you're looking for an easier way to copy and paste text, keyboard shortcuts should be the right solution.

Especially if you’re working with PDF or .doc file formats, this will save you a whole lot of time.

Windows users

If you’re a Windows user, the shortcuts for copying and pasting text are as follows:

  • Copy: CTRL+C.
  • Paste: CTRL+V.
  • Paste without formatting: CTRL+Shift+V
  • Cut: CTRL+X.

Mac users

If you’re a Mac user, the shortcuts for copying and pasting text are as follows:

  • Copy: Command+C.
  • Paste: Command+V.
  • Paste without formatting: Command+Shift+V.
  • Cut: Command+X.

Conclusion

Understanding the functions of PDFs is key in getting the most from this document format. 

Especially if you’re working with PDFs daily and you’re constantly sending information to and from different documents and file formats.

What’s more, most commands are often very close to the same across the various PDF applications. 

This makes it easy to perform the same actions, no matter what kind of PDF software you are using.

Need more info on getting the most out of your PDF files?

Then you might also be interested in learning:

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The easiest way to automatically generate and manage paperless documents at scale.
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