Use Acrobat 9 Professional to assemble a unified PDF document

Adobe Acrobat 9 Professional has many useful features for Educators and students. One that is perfect for building a unified PDF document from two or more individual documents takes advantage of a little known technique for dragging and dropping pages directly from one document on to another and then adding a unified set of headers and footers.This technique can save valuable time and produce a very useful document that can be updated as needed.

This feature is perfect when you need to customize a course pack, modify a handbook, or reference document, or even update lesson plans and other curriculum related material. When showing this to faculty and staff, I always get a lot of interest with this educator "power tip". Here is how it’s done.

What’s needed to learn the drag and drop technique?

  • A source PDF document and a destination PDF document.
  • Acrobat Professional.
  • Note: has a recording and tutorial from Lori Defurio that you can use to follow along with.

Basic Steps

  • Open up the two documents in Acrobat.
  • From the file menu, choose Window > Tile vertically.
  • Click the Pages tab in each document to reveal all the pages in each document.
  • Select and drag the pages you wish to add from one document to the pages tab of the other document. Copies are made so you will not alter the source document.
  • Close the source document and expand the destination document so you have some space to work.
  • Save the document with a different name.

What’s needed to add headers and footers to your PDF?

  • The document you wish to work with
  • Acrobat Professional

Note: My fellow Solutions Engineer Tim Plumer has a nice video tutorial that you can reference here on

Basic steps

  • From the Acrobat Pro menu choose Document > Header and Footer > Add
  • Click on the left, center, or right, header or footer placeholder and add your content. You can also insert page numbers and today’s date.
  • Verify its placement in the proxy window at the bottom and adjust margins or content as needed.
  • Save the setting as a template if you plan to use this header footer combination again.
  • Apply this to multiple documents by selecting the button at the bottom of the Header and Footer dialog box.
  • Save the document.

Note: you can always go back to the PDF and update or remove header information if you need to modify or add additional pages from the drag and drop process above.


With these techniques you can easily save valuable time by customizing materials for distribution that various sources or contributors provide. Here are some useful ideas and tips.

  • Preview the placement of the header and footer and adjust the margins if necessary.
  • Update the date field when you need to re-publish your materials to others in subsequent semesters or years. It will always look fresh.
  • If you are going to add new pages, first remove the headers and footers, add your pages via drag and drop, and then add the headers and footers back in the document.
  • You can apply different headers and footers to page ranges as well as create odd even header and footer arrangements.
  • Use the advanced button in the dialog box to accommodate document pages of different physical sizes.


4 Responses to Use Acrobat 9 Professional to assemble a unified PDF document

  1. dfrindt says:

    Adobe 9 Deletes Source Document Headers and Footers:

    Regarding Steve Adler’s “how-to” on unified pdf document . . .

    I can create a unified document from pdf reports, Excel worksheets with Excel headers/footers converted to pdf, and Word documents with headers/footers converted to pdf, and add pdf page numbering footer to the unified document.

    However, if I need to modify the pdf document by adding/deleting new Excel and/or Word source documents, and then resetting the unified document page number footers, all of my source document headers and footers are deleted.

    This did not occur in my previous version of Adobe.

    How can this be avoided – My source document headers/footers need to be retained.

    • says:

      The headers and footers that are applied via Acrobat are independent of any headers or footers created when the source files are converted to PDF. If you need to modify the word or excel generated headers and footers, that is best accomplished by going back the the source files in word or excel and modifying them there.
      If you need to modify the Acrobat headers and footers created with the document > add headers and footers menu, that should not affect the existing PDF content. If you are modifying the excel or word generated headers and footers with the touch up tools, they are permanently altered in the PDF.

  2. mliving says:

    Acrobat Pro X still exhibits this BUG.

    When page numbers are updated or deleted the MS Word generated Header is DELETED in the PDF.

    This DOES NOT happen in OpenOffice! Just saying! 🙂

    • says:

      Acrobat headers are not the same as Word headers nor are they linked. Try recreating the PDF from the latest version of your word document.