Comment driven tutorial – PDF edits

I’ve mentioned it before, but as I had a specific request for editable PDFs, I wanted to take a moment to show the example the anonymous commenter asked for, demonstrated with one of my printables that seems to match her needs. The comment said:

Just a thought, is it possible to make the PDFs editable e.g. if you wanted to personalise the quotations for someone? I noticed someone made something similar using circular calendar tags when wrapping a present and highlighted the person’s actual birthday which looked cool. That’s how I found your website – I was searching for a template (editable) ! xx

The program I use doesn’t create editable PDFs, like a Photoshop or PSE layers file.  As I create and share freebies, I’m not itching to have to buy something that does.  You can’t do it with the free Acrobat.  But there ARE tools that I know are in the Mac Preview program, and I would guess there must be something similar in the Windows version.  I SAY that, but I don’t always believe it LOL! which is why I use a Mac and not a PC. But in THIS case I feel pretty confident it has to be there.  If I show you how *I* do it, you will know what to look for and hopefully be able to do it. I’ll pop the steps for PSE on at the bottom so jump there if you have and use that.

The first thing is to open the PDF in whatever PDF viewer you have.  As I said, on a Mac, it’s Preview.  You MAY have to right-click OPEN WITH > Preview, if your default PDF viewer is Adobe.  I am using one of the circular calendars. I used the bigger one, but for tags, the smaller 4-to-a-page version might work better. And that post has a link for the Monday to Sunday version as well.  You decide.

1. Open the PDF and select the page you want to edit.   Either File > Save As > Give it a new name OR drag the page you want over onto the desktop so you don’t overwrite the original file.


2.  You can see on the drop-down menus all the options


but clicking ANNOTATE in the top bar also brings up most of the tools in an icon bar in Preview.


The oval can be used to create the circle, and a drop down menu lets you pick the colour of the circle.  The box with the A in it adds the text and the font window can be opened from that to pick the font, size, and colour.

I rotated the page so it was easier to work on without getting a crick in my neck.  You can rotate back to print.

3.  Edit to add what you like.  For this example, the Happy Birthday message and the date circled.


I would just print the sheet then punch or cut the circle out, punch a hole and tag done. Close without saving if you edited the original rather than dragging the page or duplicating the file!

You could instead use the circle as a card topper for a QUICK card that looks like it was a lot of effort but isn’t.

Other ideas?  Maybe use the arrow tool instead of the circle.  Or edit the month for a special day (Mother’s day, Christmas, Valentines Day) and highlight the date.  Copy just that month onto a blank sheet (use the SELECT tool and Copy > Paste) to make a sheet full of circles for multiple cards or tags

Editing PDFs in Photoshop Elements

I’ve done similar before, but I know people struggle sometimes to translate generic instructions into specific tasks so I’ll go thru it again.

1. Open the PDF in Photoshop Elements.  If it is a multi-page PDF you can only open a single page.


It’s hard to see but page 3 is slightly highlighted with a black border.  Clicking OK opens that page only. PSE also rasterizes the file.  Google it if you care.  In the top menu bar, FILE > DUPLICATE THE single PAGE AND CLOSE THE ORIGINAL PDF so you don’t mistakenly ruin the original.

2. Zoom in on the item you want to edit. Add a NEW LAYER with the Layers menu.  Using the marquee tool (the “marching ants” over November 19th) draw your selection on the new layer.  (You can also use the circle SHAPE (there at the right) if you prefer – just drag it over. It’ll be too big probably, but it will be created on its own layer.  FREE TRANSFORM IT to change the size. I just think it’s easier the other way)



Usually the STROKE option will be active, but to capture the screen grab it isn’t. You can make it bigger or smaller, and pick your colour.




3. Add the text box, select and type your text.





Print.  You don’t even need to save it if you aren’t going to use it again and again.

Personally, I think the tools in Preview are far easier.  If someone who has a PC knows how to do what I did on the Mac, do share.  I make pick DH or DS’s brain.  They both use PCs a bit and might be able to help.

I really should so a workflow capture of the process but when I do I always mess up if it is a longer process. I’ll experiment.  If I can work it out I’ll do a Quicktime movie and share.  Then I only have to sort out a mic for the Mac.  <sigh>