Fixing PDF-to-Microsoft Word Paragraph Formatting Issues in 4 Easy Steps

I regularly copy and paste text from PDF files into Microsoft Word 2011 for Mac, and I almost always have issues with paragraph formatting as the text moves from one interface to the other. If you look in the first image below, you’ll see that the first chunk of text is formatted strangely—the word “cinema” in the second line should not be on the second line, but the first. Essentially, Word creates paragraph breaks for every line (hence those terrible green squigglies).

One obvious, time-consuming solution is to go to the beginning of each line, press delete, space, etc. until the document is formatted the way it should be. This takes forever with long docs. But wait—there’s a better way!

Let me just say one more word about how I copy and paste text from a PDF into a Word document. If I have several passages in a PDF highlighted I’ll copy and paste them one by one. After I paste a passage into Word I hit the return key twice to create space between one pasted passage and the next. If you look at the first image below, you should be able to see how I pushed the return key twice after the word “storyworlds.” This method for fixing these PDF-to-Word formatting problems will not work exactly right unless you create that extra space between pasted passages.

Step 1: After you have copied and pasted the text from a PDF into Word, go to “Edit” then “Find” then “Advanced Find and Replace.” (If you’re using a PC or a different version of Word I’m sure the menus are similar if not exactly the same.)

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Step 2: Click the “Replace” button. In the “Find What” field, write ^p^p. (No period, though.) The carrot symbol is above the 6 on your keyboard. In the “Replace” field, write any string of letters or numbers that don’t appear in your document anywhere. I always just write “888.” I don’t know why. Click “Replace All.”

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Step 3: Word will run its little calculations and do its finding and replacing. The “Find and Replace” box should still be visible (if not, just go back up to “Edit”). Now, in the “Find What” field, write ^p. In the “Replace with” field, just make a single space with the space bar. Notice the cursor in the picture below—there’s a space before it. Select “Replace All” and let Word do its business.

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Step 4: For the final Find and Replace, in the “Find What” field write 888 (or whatever sequence you chose). In the “Replace with” field, write ^p^p and then hit “Replace All.”

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That should do it. Enjoy your well-formatted document! Yeah!

 

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