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Q&A

How to convert PDF to docx

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How can I convert PDF to docx using the terminal or a Linux app?

The output docx must be formatted with editable text.

Some alternative solutions I've seen online using soffice and abiword output a docx with images of each paragraph.

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2 answers

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Pdf is one of the most unsuitable file formats to use as a starting point for converting it to docx. A pdf by itself is pretty much "dumb", it knows the position of letters etc, but not much more.

You want to take a step further up in your workflow to where your pdf came from. If you have the latex sources or if you can export your document into another file format like html, then you still have all the knowledge about the document structure.

You can then use pandoc to convert to docx. For example from latex to docx:

pandoc -s document.tex -o test.docx

which will result in an editable docx with headlines and everything:

screenshot of the resulting docx being edited

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This is truly incredible! You got to the root of my problem! My only remaining issue is that the ... (5 comments)
Related. (1 comment)
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If your goal is to make small edits to the resulting document, you can use LibreOffice with the following command:

soffice --infilter="writer_pdf_import" --convert-to docx document.pdf

This will produce an editable document, however each text chunk is enclosed in it's own box for positioning, so while small edits are perfectly doable, rewriting whole pages might be a bit painful.

screen capture of making an edit to the docx file

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Thank you for this. This is not ideal either, because I need to send the docx to native word users. T... (4 comments)

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