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I have a large number of paper forms which I need to complete. I'd like to scan them in, then type the answers onto them in the relevant spaces and print them out, rather than writing on them with a pen (my handwriting is terrible).

I can scan and generate PDFs without a problem, but I'm looking for a free tool which will let me type text over the top of the scanned PDF, and let me at least print the final output. Saving would be good too but isn't essential.

I'm running Windows 7. Any suggestions? Would the Adobe Acrobat free trial let me do this? I could scan the forms as images and set them up as background images in Word but I've got hundreds of pages and I'd like something quicker and simpler.

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Why do you want to scan straight to PDF? Wouldn't it be easier to scan directly to an editing app that you already have, eg MS Word or Photoshop, do your editing and then convert to PDF after using one of Joshhunt's suggestions? – GAThrawn Sep 12 '09 at 12:00
up vote 8 down vote accepted

Try also PDF-XChange Editor: free, light and complete!!

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+1 I've just tried the portable version of this (no need to install) and it looks great. Much easier to use than Blueberry and the Typewriter button is exactly what I needed, thanks. – tjrobinson Sep 12 '09 at 10:27
Don't be fooled by the name either, it's definitely an editor. – tjrobinson Sep 12 '09 at 10:27
+1 for a fine program :) – Molly7244 Sep 12 '09 at 10:43
I can't get over how awesome this program is :) Of course over time I may discover issues, but it's working great so far. – tjrobinson Sep 12 '09 at 10:47
the price will easily make you getting over any possible issues :) – Molly7244 Sep 12 '09 at 12:03

I use FormulatePro for Mac. It is open source. I've used it and the output is pretty good, but it is pretty basic software.

For Windows there is Blueberry PDF Form Filler. It is free, but I haven't used it myself.

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+1 Looks perfect. Unfortunately I'm using Windows, I've updated the question accordingly. – tjrobinson Sep 12 '09 at 9:53
I've tried Blueberry and it seems to work. It's a bit fiddly to position the text but it'll do the job, thanks for finding it. – tjrobinson Sep 12 '09 at 10:08

See Foxit PDF Editor. It's not free, but it has a free six month license. Never tried it, but it may be one of these products that allow you getting a free license every six months.

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I had a look, that 6 month license offer looks a bit dodgy. I expect it would work, I just don't fancy signing up for it. – tjrobinson Sep 12 '09 at 10:24
I had a problem some weeks ago which required analyzing a PDF file. This editor was the best I tried among about 6 that I tried (even better than Adobe Acrobat Pro!). I still believe it's a cut above the others in quality, and the same goes for the Foxit PDF Reader. – harrymc Sep 12 '09 at 15:32

Just for the archives, for those on a Mac: even Preview can easily do the trick, using annotations. (Control-Command-T to add Text.)

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You don't need any additional software - the free Adobe Reader XI can do the job.

On the top left corner of Adobe Reader XI there are "Comment" toolbars (near top-right hand corner of the window). There are typewriter tools for you to type (as markup) and save the PDF.

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