Modifying PDF Documents
by Alan German
programs these days have the capability of saving
original documents as PDF files but few applications are
able to edit the contents of a PDF file. However, there
are some programs that can modify an existing PDF file.
One such piece of software is PDFTK Builder, which will
let you re-arrange pages in a single PDF file, append
pages from a second PDF file, split pages out of a PDF
file, add background images to pages, rotate pages, and
password protect a PDF file. Not a comprehensive content
editor it's true, but still an impressive list of
features by which an existing PDF file can be modified.
Builder is essentially a Windows version of PDFTK (http://www.pdflabs.com/tools/pdftk-the-pdf-toolkit/), a command-line program
from Sid Steward of PDF Labs. Angus Johnson, the
developer of PDFTK Builder, has built a graphical front
end onto the original utility to produce an easy-to-use
Windows version of the software.
It will probably be useful to consult the help file in
order to determine how the various options work. For
example, to remove pages from a document, you open the
file, specify which pages you wish to retain, and then
use Save As to save a copy of the desired pages from the
original file. This process removes any pages that were
not specified from the document - a slightly strange way
of doing things - but effective nonetheless.
Another way to extract certain pages from various
documents and combine these into a single file is to use
both the Split and Collate functions.
For example, the club's financial report (the balance
sheet and income statement) were published on pages 3-4
of the February newsletter, while the reviewer's report
was published on page 3 of the June issue. We can use
PDFTK Builder to extract these three pages from the two
PDF newsletter files, and then combine them into a new
PDF file. Firstly, we use the Split tab and open the
February newsletter (stored as NEWS1202.pdf) as the
source PDF file. Pressing the Save button creates a
series of PDF files, each containing a single page of the
newsletter. The two pages of interest are therefore
NEWS1202_003.pdf and NEWS1202_004.pdf, these being pages
3 and 4 respectively of the newsletter. Processing the
June issue in a similar fashion provides access to the
reviewer's report in the file NEWS1206_003.pdf.
Now, we can open the Collate tab, press the Add button,
and select the above-noted three files as our input data.
Pressing Save As and specifying the new file
financial_report_2011.pdf results in the three desired
pages being stored in the new file (see image of dialogue
PDFTK Builder is a little quirky in terms of its
operations, and is limited in terms of its functionality
for modifying PDF file, but it does have some useful
features should you need to do simple modifications on an
existing PDF file.
PDFTK Builder (Open-source)
Originally published: September, 2012
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