#261 Highlighting Documents

Do you ever highlight documents as you read them? I am a big highlighter when I’m really trying to focus on learning and retaining information from documents that I’m reading. It makes reviewing easier for me and calls out the important parts for others.

Did you know you that Word and a number of other programs have a highlighter built right in?

Microsoft Word

In Word 2007/2010 you can simply select the text you want to highlight then press [CTRL] + [ALT] + H This is a toggle, so simply repeat the same steps to remove the highlight.

In older versions of Word you can find the highlighter button on the Formatting toolbar …or make your own highlighting shortcut.

PDF Viewers:

Most PDF viewers also have this highlighting ability. In Adobe Reader X just look for the highlighter on the toolbar

PowerPoint & more

For applying this to your PowerPoint presentations, here are seven ideas for emphasizing text in PowerPoint…and it even works in email too!


#253 Shrink PDF Files

We’ve discussed PDF documents around here before, including some alternatives to the slow, bloated Acrobat Reader and some free, easy tools for “printing” your own PDFs. This week I’d like to share a super simple way that you can reduce the file sizes of almost any PDF by up to 80%. This trick is especially handy if the PDF is too big to email or over some other type of file size limit.

Without getting into any of the boring details, the easiest way to shrink a PDF is to “re-bake” it.

NOTE: This trick assumes that you already have something along the lines of CutePDF Writer installed as a printer on your computer.

How It Works

This works by reducing the resolution, and therefore, the file size of the PDF. This works best with PDFs that contain images. Usually text only PDFs can’t be compressed very much…but sometimes they can so it’s worth a try.

1. Open the Print dialog box via the File menu but select your PDF “printer” instead of your usual printer.

2. Click the Properties… button.

3.. Then click the Advanced button.

4. Find the Graphic – Print Quality option and reduce the DPI setting.

The default is 600dpi but you can safely drop it as low as 72dpi without much trouble. You can experiment to see what works best for you.

Sceenshot for Cute PDF Writer
(Yours may be a bit different.)

Do you have any other PDF questions? Which PDF reader do you use?

#177: PDF-apalooza

One the most frequent questions I get are ones about is PDF documents. I’ve covered this topic before but it’s been quite awhile ago and I thought it might be about time to revisit it again.

PDF Viewers:
Adobe Reader is the “official” software for viewing PDF files but it has become bloated and vulnerable to malware attacks over the years. It gave me quite a bit of trouble and was VERY SLOW when it did work. If you’re interested in exploring an alternative, here are some free options that are much faster and have worked well for me.

»  PDF-XChange Viewer
This is what I’m currently using. It loads fast and also has some editing features in addition to reading PDF files.

»  Foxit PDF Reader
This is a popular, lightweight, and fast PDF viewer for that I have used and really like.

»  CoolPDF Reader
This one is freeware that claims to be the smallest PDF reader available, at only 650kb. It can also convert PDF files to many different formats such as TXT, GIF, JPG and more.

Tools for Creating PDF Files

There are many more options for creating PDFs these days including the newer versions of Office, Google Docs, etc. However, if you don’t have access to one of these or if you just need a free and useful standalone option you should consider one of the following alternatives.

»  PDF Creator
PDF Create my current favorite for creating PDF files. It also has some abilities for converting them to other usable formats as well.

»  PrimoPDF
This is a popular option that I’ve used successfully.  It is one that installs a “printer” that you send your document to and instead of being sent to the printer the document is “printed” to a pdf file on your computer.

»  CutePDF Writer
Cute PDF Writer installs a PDF printer that you send documents to in order to create them as PDF files. This one is also an official “AEP  approved” option.

PDF to Word Conversion:

Of all the PDF questions I get, by far the most common one is “How can I convert my PDF document to Word so that I can edit it?”  The best option is always to get the original source document. After all, one of the main points of creating a PDF document in the first place is so that it won’t be edited.  That being said, there are definitely occasions where it is helpful to be able to do this and here are some good options.

»  Nuance PDF Reader
This tool will upload your PDF and then email you a converted Microsoft Word document. It works really well but be aware that you’re uploading your document to the internt which you may or may not want to do.  I’ve had really good luck using Nuance with some fairly complex documents.

»  HelloPDF
This one is a stand-alone option that will convert your PDF to Word Doc without requiring you to upload anything nor that you have Adobe Acrobat Reader or Microsoft Word installed!

What do you use to work with PDF documents? What PDF challenges are you still trying to solve?

#13 Free OCR Software

Editing scanned documents with Microsoft Word

Have you ever needed to create or edit a document using content from printed materials and would rather not have to retype the text you want to use? Did you know that you may already have software on your computer that can transfer that text to Microsoft Word for editing?

Microsoft Office Document Imaging comes with Microsoft Office XP Standard or Professional. To look for it on your computer check the default location which is:

Start » Programs » Microsoft Office Tools » Microsoft Office Document Imaging

What is OCR?

Optical character recognition (OCR) translates images of text, such as scanned documents, into actual text characters. Also known as text recognition, OCR makes it possible to edit and reuse the text that is normally locked inside scanned images.Send text to WordHere’s how to get your text into Microsoft Word, after you’ve scanned your document. (Which we discussed last week.)

    1. In Microsoft Office Document Imaging open the TIFF file that you created & saved after scanning the document.

    2. In the main window, select the text to be captured by dragging a draw a box around the text you wish to capture. The text will be highlighted in blue as you drag.

    3. Click on the Send Text to Word button in the toolbar.

    4. In some cases, a Document Imaging window may appear. If it does, click OK to begin the process of transferring your text.

    5. The Send Text to Word window will appear next. From this window, click on appropriate option and click OK

    6. Office will open a new Word document and insert the text you captured.


    » If you have a document from another source that’s not in TIFF format, most graphics programs will convert it to TIFF or try Zamzar.com to convert it for you.

    » The page layout structure will not be maintained but you will have the text and complex page layouts may cause text to be shuffled or out of sequence.

    » If you need a more sophisticated option check out Adobe Acrobat Capture. It’s nice but it’s not free.