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Text Edits? Edit Text?!

So let’s be clear on some Acrobat terminology. In this entry I’m going to show you how to use the Text Edits tool, one of Acrobat’s markup tools. “Editing text” is a common term I hear from some Acrobat users, but there is no tool in Acrobat that has that name. “Editing text” usually refers to using the “Touchup Text Tool” in Acrobat, which allows you to make modifications to existing text (and also add a new block of text to a PDF page, but that’s a blog entry for another time). Then again, what some may mean by “editing text” is within the context of reviewing a document.

So what exactly is the Text Edits tool then, and how can you use it? This markup tool allows you to suggest modifications to text in a PDF document, without changing the actual content. This way, the review initiator and participants know exactly what others are suggesting without losing track of who said what, and not getting in to “the battle of the redlines”.

You’ll find it on the Comment & Markup toolbar (choosing the Comments > Show Comment & Markup Toolbar menu command is one way to get there: you can find the rest!).


Go ahead and click on the Text Edits button on the toolbar. You may a see a dialog open giving you some brief instructions on what the tools are. Check “Don’t show again” if, well, you don’t want to see that again (you can get it back), then click OK.

You use the Text Edits tool just like you would use the Selection tool in Acrobat. Go ahead and select some text in an open PDF document. Now do the following according to what you want to suggest as part of the review:

Delete text: select the text, then press Delete on your keyboard. Red cross-out markup will appear over the text you selected.


Insert text: click once at the location you would like to suggest that some additional text should be added, then just start typing. An insertion caret will appear at the point you inserted the markup, along with a text pop up where you can type in your suggested insertion.


Replace text: I think you’ve got the idea by now…select the text you would like to recommend should be changed, and start typing. A cross-out and an insertion caret will appear (delete + insert = replace), along with a text pop-up comment for you to add the replacement text.


Another way to use the Text Edits tool is by selecting the relevant command from the toolbar menu (click the down arrow right next to the Text Edits button).


You can also just select some text using Acrobat’s Select tool, right-click (or Ctrl-click on a Mac) the selection and choose either “Replace Text” or “Cross-out Text” from the contextual menu. No “Insert Text” command, as you would just start typing as documented above.

So why is this tool an important one? As we’re working with a PDF document here, everyone sees the same thing. That much is clear. But imagine if you had 10 reviewers, and they all had slightly different suggestions for the same short sentence. It would be difficult to comprehend what everyone was saying if they all made actual changes to the source file. By having markup “layered” on top of each other, and each set of markups were identified by author and a time and date stamp (and color if so desired), it is much easier to see who said what and incorporate the right change in to the source document quickly and confidently. In future entries I’ll share with you some ways you can identify, sort and flag comments from various reviewers.

One final tip on selecting text in Acrobat: if you find that the selection you made is too long or too short you don’t have to reselect things. Make your selection, then move the cursor towards the ends of that selection. Your cursor will change to a cross-hair with a plus sign. Now click and drag, and you can make the existing selection longer or shorter. Neat!

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