5 Best Ways to Convert Scanned PDF to Word for Editing (with OCR)

convert scanned pdf to word

Scanned PDFs have revolutionized the way we share information via documents by providing a simple yet reliable way to digitize paper documents. However, even when playing a pivotal role, scanned documents still suffer various limitations like difficulty in editing or data extraction.

To bridge this gap though, you just need to arm yourself with the best PDF to Word OCR converter software. For your convenience, this article opens you up to several ways on how to convert scanned PDF to Word using the following list of handpicked scan PDF to Word converters.

Scanned PDF vs Native PDF

PDFs are majorly categorized into either native or scanned forms and here you will learn what sets them apart.

  • Native PDF – A native PDF is an original document that is digitally created from a computer using apps like Word, Excel, Illustrator, and more. They contain code that allows for viewing and reading in the original form. Also, native PDFs contain vector-based files that are largely editable, besides the searchable content.
  • Scanned PDF – A scanned PDF consists of scanned images of a given document and therefore lacks the necessary electronic code for integrity. A scanned PDF can initially be an electronic document that is later scanned or passed through a scanner, thereby losing digital formatting. The files are more raster-based and pretty cumbersome to edit.

Why Convert Scanned PDF to Word?

At one point or another, the need to convert scanned PDF to Word will come knocking. Of course, this will be driven by several factors. In this section, we are going to outline reasons that push for the need to perform scan PDF to Word conversion.

  • Allow easy editing – since PDFs are more of a document preservation tool, they usually don’t allow direct editing, especially the scanned PDFS. Changing the scanned PDF to an editable Word document (DOC or DOCX) allows for convenient editing.
  • Lack of a PDF reader – Scanned PDFs, or PDFs in general, require specialized software to open and view. Programs like Microsoft Word are common on computers and therefore, by converting a scan PDF to Word, viewing is no longer limited.
  • Incompatibility with screen readers – Screen readers, especially for visually impaired users, are not usually very compatible with scanned PDF content but by converting into a format like Microsoft Word, this hurdle is jumped pretty easily.
  • Extract and re-use text data – Since scanned PDFs do not allow for direct copy-pasting or extracting content like tables, most of the time you will be forced to resort to retyping. But by converting the scanned or image-based PDF into DOC or DOCX, you get rid of all that hassle.

Convert Scanned PDF to Word Using Best PDF to Word OCR Software

TalkHelper PDF Converter OCR is our pick for the best PDF to Word converter software. It boasts unmatched comprehensiveness when converting to and from the PDF format. The highlight feature here is the advanced OCR (Optical Character Recognition) that extracts text data including tables from a scan PDF overly fast and has high accuracy levels.

To literate on the OCR, over 46 recognition languages are supported to guarantee that extra accurate PDF to Word OCR process. Even better, for a multi-page scan PDF, you can choose to convert single pages, a page range, or the entire document depending on your needs; not forgetting that batch conversion is available as well.

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Steps to Convert Scanned PDF to Editable Word in High Quality:

Step 1: Add the scanned PDF to convert. With the “PDF To Word” mode selected, click on the “Add File(s)” button, go to the source directory, select the image-based PDF file, and click on the “Open” button.


Step 2: Set OCR options. Head over to the “Convert Mode:” section, select the “OCR (Support Scanned PDF)” option, and then choose the “Recognition Language:” matching the scanned document you added.


Step 3: Choose your preferred output folder and convert. At the top part of the interface, use the “Output Folder:” section to set where to save the converted editable Word document, and finally hit the “Convert” button.


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Turn Scanned PDF into Word for Editing Using Adobe Acrobat Pro

Adobe Acrobat Pro is among the top converter software that is best suited for the scan PDF to Word conversion process. In fact, it rides on the slogan that you need not retype, re-format, or rescan any content from a scanned PDF when the built-in and automated OCR is at your disposal.

This PDF image to Word converter is popular for the instant conversion of any scanned PDF into editable and searchable Word while carrying over text, tables, and custom fonts to retain the original look. Amazingly, you can also OCR specific sections of a PDF when the need arises.

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Steps to Convert Scanned PDF to Word using Adobe Acrobat Pro:

Step 1: Open the scanned PDF file. Click on the “File” menu and from the list option, choose “Open…”. Alternatively, you can just use the “Ctrl+O” hotkey. Use the resulting “Open” window to import the PDF file.


Step 2: Export the scanned PDF into editable Word. Again, using the “File” menu, select the “Export To” option, select “Microsoft Word” from the sidekick menu, and then pick either Word Document (DOCX) or Word 97-2003 Document (DOC).


Step 3: Configure output options and convert. In the resulting “Save As PDF” window, choose your output directory of choice, click on the “Settings…” button to adjust various parameters including the  “Text Recognition Settings”, save the changes using the “OK” button, and finally hit the “Save” button.


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Convert Scanned PDF Document or Image to Editable Word Online

Free Online OCR is your go-to free and online software to help you obtain editable Word documents from any scanned PDF. It supports a ton of conversion languages and can extract text data from both scan PDF files and images (JPG, BMP, TIFF, GIF), saving in an editable DOCX file.

You are however limited to a 15MB max file upload size in Guest mode unless you sign up to unlock more perks like converting multi-page scanned PDFs among other features. The best thing is that you can retain the original tables, columns, and graphics, ridding you of the need for post-conversion editing.

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Steps to Convert Scanned PDF to Word using Free Online OCR:

Step 1: Open the Free Online OCR website: https://www.onlineocr.net/.


Step 2: Upload a scanned PDF to convert. Click on the “Select file…” button, navigate to the source directory, highlight the PDF file, and hit the “Open” button.


Step 3: Select language and output to Microsoft Word. Click on the language button to pick the recognition language and then choose “Microsoft Word (docx)” as the target format.


Step 4: Convert and download the editable Word file. To complete the process, click on the “CONVERT” button, wait for the conversion task to end, and finally use the “Download Output File” option to save the converted Word document.


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Convert Image to Text in Microsoft Word

Microsoft Word provides a free way to convert an image containing text to Word. It is a good go-to solution considering that most of us are already well conversant with the working of the Word app. In fact, to change a PDF image to Word, you simply need to open the source text image or scanned PDF image and Microsoft Word will handle the rest for you.

Mind you, the accuracy of the process to extract text data largely depends on the quality of the source image; for instance, handwritten text may prove quite difficult to OCR. All in all, Word strives to give you a pretty accurate and editable plain text document.

Steps to Convert an Image to Text using Microsoft Word

Step 1: Insert the text image file in a blank Word document. Launch Microsoft Word, create a blank document, head over to the “Insert” tab, click on the “Pictures” option to open the “Insert Picture” window, navigate to image folder, select the image, and hit the “Insert” button.


The inserted image will load somewhat similar to the one below;


Step 2: Save the image as a PDF. Using the “File” menu, open the “Backstage View” window. From here, use the “Save As” option, then click on the “Browse” button to select where the PDF will be saved, set an appropriate “File name:”, configure the “Save as type:” top “PDF (*.pdf)”, and lastly click on the “Save” button.


Step 3: Open the saved PDF in Microsoft Word. Again, open the “Backstage View” using the “File” tab, select “Open” from the left panel, hit the “Browse” button, navigate to the location you saved the PDF file, select the document, and click on the “Open” button.


Step 4: Allow conversion to an editable Word document. The moment you open the PDF file, you will be presented with the dialog box below confirming that Word will try to OCR and extract text from the scanned document. To accept this, click on the “OK” button to opt-in. Keep in mind that the process can take a while depending on the complexity of the PDF file.


Once the process is complete, you should be looking at the editable text content from the image we had earlier. I have made some paragraphs from the original text block to show that we are in fact dealing with plain text. From here, you can play around with the extracted text as you wish.


Convert Scanned PDF to Editable PDF Using PDFelement

Wondershare’s PDFelement is one of the best offline ways to edit or extract text data from scanned PDF documents and images, with the option to save in an entirely new editable  format like Word document when needed. Amazingly, when editing, any text you add will match the look of the original fonts.

The converted PDF file is not only editable but also searchable with selectable text. In the instance you have stacks of scanned PDFs, the supported batch OCR feature goes a long way to help you process multiple scans all at the same time. Other than that, enhance the overall accuracy using the 20 plus recognition languages.

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Steps to Convert Scanned PDF to Editable PDF:

Step 1: Import the scanned PDF to OCR. Click on the “OCR PDF” option, open the folder containing the PDF document, select the PDF file, and hit the “Open” button.


Step 2: Set OCR options. From the “OCR PDF” mini window, set the “Scan Option”, “Page Range”, use the “Change Language” option to match the document language, and hit the “Apply” button to save the changes and continue.


The OCR process will commence and you should see a progress window similar to the one below. How long it takes will depend on the page range you defined and more importantly the number of pages and document complexity.


Step 3: Edit the OCR’d PDF to your preferences. Once the OCR process is complete, you will have the editable PDF opened up for you as below. In this state, you can pretty much adjust anything on the document. Heading over to the “Edit” tab on the ribbon will reveal editing options like adding text, images, links, watermarks, backgrounds, header/footer, Bates numbering and more. After that, you can save the final document.


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This article has delved into the best ways you can use to convert any scanned PDF into an editable Microsoft Word document. You have not only been opened up to the top tools you can call to action but also extensive methods/guides on how to aptly achieve the goal at hand. With that said, you no longer have to hassle when the need to convert scan PDF to word comes knocking. Just pick your preferred tool and make the most out of it.

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