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I want to create a documents with some excerpts from a PDF file which has many symbols. When I copy and paste to MS Word, it is not copying the symbols correctly. What is the best way to go about?

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Did you create the PDF file or get it elsewhere? If the symbols correspond to UNICODE declarations, copying to Word from most PDF viewers should keep the symbols. If they're not, and they're just taken from a special symbol font which is partly embedded in the PDF, then you're probably out of luck unless you happen to own the font in question. –  frabjous Dec 4 '10 at 2:06

5 Answers 5

It all depends on how the user created the file and then put it into a PDF.

Some items are based as images, while others will be based through text and Unicode. Unless you have the exact font or facing that the user used (assuming that you can select the text like you say), you will not be able to grab the symbols correctly.

Also, like "bubu" said above, using a screenshot or a program with screen grabbing technology (Microsoft OneNote or built in Screen Clipper in Win7) will allow you to get the symbols through images.

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As people have pointed out, it largely depends on embedded fonts, fonts on your system, etc.

However, sometimes fixing it is just a case choosing a suitable alternative font to get the symbols to show up correctly:

  1. Select one of the incorrect symbols in Word. What is the name of the font in the Font box? (e.g "Standard Symbols L")

  2. Scroll down the fonts in the font box and see if that name is in the list. (e.g. in Windows, "Standard Symbols L" will not be in your font list)

  3. If it is not in the list, then this means you do not have that font on your computer. Try changing to a similar type of font that you do have on your computer. (e.g. Change "Standard Symbols L" to "Symbol")

You can use Word's Find & Replace to find all occurrences of one font and replace it with another.

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my suggestion would be to open it, zoom in and take screenshot. This is by far the easiest... Usually the symbols in the pdf files are either embedded font or even graphics.

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Unfortunately, the answer is, it depends!

The first thing it depends on is of course the PDF itself, what fonts/character sets/encodings we used to create it.

The second is your PDF viewing software and how it handles text selection and copying.is the layout itself preserved well when you do your copy/paste?

If the character encoding for the symbols is strange, but consistent, your best bet may be to do a search and replace in word after you've done your import.

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If those symbols are Math, you might want to consider capturing them in an image instead or typing them over if you need to have them as selectable characters when publishing. If those symbols are Unicode you should change your font to a font that supports the symbols used...

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