Converting Color PDFs to Grayscale or Black and White in Acrobat 9
It’s rare to find color printers or copiers widely deployed in law firms. When color documents appear in discovery, firms don’t always know what to do with them. Examples include PPT files, images scanned in full color, etc.
Acrobat files can contain color and non-color elements:
- RGB: Red, Green, Blue color
- CMYK: Cyan, Yellow, Magenta and Black
- Greyscale: Shades of gray ranging from 0 (white) to to 256 (black) in value
- Monochrome: Black and White
RGB or CMYK image-only PDFs, in particular, can be quite large. Converting these PDFs to grayscale or black can reduce the size of the file and speed printing.
Other times, litigation support departments will have to satisfy the odd attorney who prefers to read grayscale documents.
Whatever the reason, it is fairly easy to convert RGB or CMYK PDFs to Greyscale. It’s a bit more difficult to convert to monochrome, but I’ve included a workaround for that, too.
You’ll need Acrobat Pro to make this work for you . . .
NOTE: I wrote this article for Acrobat 9. In Acrobat X, exporting to Excel is super simple and works great. Just choose File> Save As> Spreadsheet. It’s worth the upgrade for this feature alone!
I received this email from a paralegal at a large law firm recently:
Help! An attorney has asked me to convert PDFs we received in discovery to Excel. The PDFs are tabular in nature (probably originated in Excel). Some are scanned in from paper and others appear to be converted electronically. How do I do this?
Fortunately, Acrobat 9 offers a couple of different ways to export to Excel.
- Select table and open in Excel
This allows you to select a portion of a page and open it in Excel.
Works best when you only need small part of the table
Better results if the file didn’t originate from a spreadsheet
- Export as Tables in Excel
This method uses some artificial intelligence to convert multiple page PDF documents to multiple worksheets in an XML-based spreadsheet file. It works best on files which were converted directly from Excel to PDF.
Acrobat generally will usually do a pretty good job converting the text, but formatting and column widths will look different than the original. Acrobat only copies over the text. Formulas will not convert. Do not expect 100% fidelity.
In the full article, you’ll receive my usual step-by-step instructions.
You’ve just copied some text from a PDF using the selection tool and pasted it into your word processor. Ack! Why doesn’t the text reflow?
Although PDF is primarily intended as an archive format, Acrobat users often want to take passages of text in a PDF and reuse them in a word processor or in email. For example, you may wish to cite part of an important court decision in a brief.
One frustration is that text copied from a PDF may have hard line endings. Depending on how the PDF was created, each line may have a paragraph return at the end.
Text formatted with hard line endings doesn’t reflow properly and can take a lot of time to clean up:
Hard Line Endings
THIS AGREEMENT WITNESSETH
that in consideration of the
premises and mutual
covenants and agreements
hereinafter contained, and for other
good and valuable
consideration (the receipt and
sufficiency of which is hereby
acknowledged by the parties
Text that Reflows
THIS AGREEMENT WITNESSETH that in consideration of the premises and mutual covenants and agreements hereinafter contained, and for other good and valuable consideration (the receipt and sufficiency of which is hereby acknowledged by the parties hereto), it is agreed by and between the parties hereto as follows:
One workaround is to use Acrobat Standard or Professional which can save PDFs to editable formats such as text files, rich text files and Word. In doing so, the hard line endings are generally eliminated.
Acrobat 8 simplifies the process somewhat by offering a new Export button in the Acrobat toolbar:
However, this workflow means saving out the file, finding the correct passage in the Word file, then copying that to your working document. That’s a lot work if you just want to copy a paragraph or two!
Fortunately, there is an easy way to eliminate hard line endings when copying text from a PDF.
Read on to learn how…