As you can see in the picture below I have a .pdf file that behaves strangely when I try to mark and quote part of its text. I imported it in Citavi 5, tried to print the file with doPDF 8, Microsoft Print to PDF and OpenText PDF converter, the behaviour stayed the same. I also tried other sources, but it seems they are all based on the same file.


When copying directly from the .pdf file, the result looks like this:

Overal the tap “haptic For ou percep speake to noti might than th were ab While others approa casual Most i implan tasks. T the wa rate de

When I use Microsoft XPS Document Writer the output looks like below, with some letters marked double. It looks the same when converted to .txt.

XPS file

When copying from the file converted to .txt or .xps it looks like this:


Overalll, participants found the devvice easy to usee. All liked the tapp sensor (“easyy to use”) andd button (“easy to find”, “hapticc feedback”), but none enjooyed the pressuure sensor. For ouutput componeents, all rank ed the LED lowest for

So the conversion to .txt is the one that works best, but I would still have to look through the whole quotation to delete double characters.

Does anyone know this kind of behaviour and what I can do to have a file which I can easily quote?

  • When you select + copy an area of text, what actually gets copied - if you then paste it into a text editor, like Notepad? – MrWhite Oct 4 '17 at 15:21
  • @MrWhite the exact highlighted part, which means nonsense – Lehue Oct 4 '17 at 15:23
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    Convert the PDF into plain text or Word format and copy from there? Would that work for the purpose of quoting? – Edi Oct 4 '17 at 15:24
  • @Edi it works better than copying the .pdf, but not good (see edit) – Lehue Oct 5 '17 at 6:43
  • (0) Super User is probably the best Stack Exchange site for a question like this; or, at least, an acceptable one.  (1) This may be a matter of personal preference, but I find material easier to read if it tells me what it’s going to show me, before it shows it to me.  I.e., don’t start with an image and then start talking about it.  (Other people may think that the way you organized your question is just fine.)  (2) I’m not 100% clear what the second image is; consider clarifying its explanation.  (3) The question would be easier to read if you made the two images closer to being the same scale. … (Cont’d) – Scott Oct 6 '17 at 4:43

If you have access to Adobe software this is doable to an extent. I opened your PDF in Photoshop to output as an image only (scanning the document will do the same thing) and used Acrobat Pro's OCR (Tools>Recognise Text) to find text shaped elements in the document. You can then highlight and copy/paste as normal.

output eg. copy/paste Participants filled out a questionnaire after the study, sharing their impression when using the device in public environments and any the reactions they received.

As for why this is happening I can't help you there, inspecting the text elements in your original PDF indeed shows the problematic pages as having split text fields rather than a continuous field like you'd expect, the other pages which highlight normally do not have this problem.

I'm not familiar with the software which you spoke about but in case they have a similar function such as text recognition I imagine it will work the same. Hope this helps!

| improve this answer | |
  • I thought about this method, and even though it works to me it feels a bit like "giving up" if you know what I mean. Creating a picture and then relying on the algorithms to correctly translate it back to text may be risky in cases where numbers are important, as these algorithms sometimes change numbers due to pattern matching or similar methods. Of course in my case your answer perfectly solves the quoting problem, though because of what I explained above I will not accept it yet. – Lehue Oct 6 '17 at 6:29

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