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Original problem: I have a PDF document with me which I wish to comment on. However, I have yet to find a PDF editor that has the versatility of text boxes, comments and equation editors etc. as Microsoft Word itself.

As such, I thought of the idea of using the PDF document as a background to a word document, of which I can comment flexibly as much as I want. However, I have yet to find such a function on Word online. How can I go about doing this?

A little more details: I am not interested and having to edit the PDF itself, and I do not even need the final document (after commenting on Word) to detect texts from the original PDFs. In other words, I'm happy with the PDF just being a picture in the Word document. A possible solution will be to convert every page of PDF into a picture file, then manually add into Word as background/picture, but given that the document is >100 pages, I seek a less tedious solution.


Remark: I also welcome comments which suggest an alternative solution to my original problem.

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  • are you limited to Word online? Do you have access to the offline version?
    – phuclv
    Aug 10, 2020 at 9:31
  • @phuclv That was confusing on my side, but I do mean the offline version (I meant I couldn't find any function on Word when looking for it online).
    – yellowello
    Aug 11, 2020 at 0:07

4 Answers 4

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Here's a possible workaround

  • Export all the pages in the PDF file to PNG with some tools like PDFCreator or PDF-XChange. Some more suggestions can be found in How to convert a multi-page PDF file to PNG files, with one PNG file per page of the PDF document?
  • Create a new blank document in Word
    • Set all margins to 0 by going to Layout > Margins > Custom Margins and set the top/left/bottom/right margin values
    • Set the page rotation to match the original PDF file (portrait or landscape)
  • Select all the exported images then drag and drop onto the Word document. Alternatively select Insert > Pictures and insert all pictures

Now you already have the desired document. Unfortunately Word doesn't allow you to comment on a picture or at random positions in the page. Therefore you need to create a frame and type texts on it. This way you can also select texts in the frame and create a new comment for it. See How can I add a comment in word in a text box?

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  • In my case, adding a text box is working fine. Didn't bother with developer tools and adding legacy frames.
    – Shayan
    May 12, 2021 at 9:45
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I just convinced Word to use a full-page PDF as a background:

1.) File -> Open, choose the PDF file
2.) Word says it will convert it into a Word file, accept this
3.) In my case, the PDF was A4 size, 1 page - and I got a docx file in A4 size with the PDF as a full-page image.
4.) Select the image, cut-and-paste it into the header or footer of the word document, and re-adjust the position (page, 0cm, page, 0cm)

Voila: The word file has the pdf as a background, and you can draw text boxes on top of it, or whatever Word lets you do in a document.

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Manually converting a 100-page PDF file into a picture is a very time-consuming process.

As far as I know, there is no particularly suitable OOTB method to complete this step.

I actually recommend that you use some third-party tools to convert PDF files into pictures in bulk or directly into word files.

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The best solution is to use Adobe Acrobat DC which can export the PDF to images and even as a Word Document itself. Of course it's not free but you could grab a trial version.

See also: How to convert PDF files to Word Documents

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  • That will work for "normal" documents with mostly texts, but unfortunately, mine contains lots of equations and diagrams, and doing so distorts the formatting significantly enough to render it an unviable option.
    – yellowello
    Aug 11, 2020 at 0:14
  • Even MS Word supports opening and editing PDF files, you don't need to buy Adobe Acrobat for that. But PDF files typically don't contain paragraph information so it'll just work for very simple files, otherwise the output file will just be a mess of broken texts
    – phuclv
    Aug 11, 2020 at 1:34

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