Cannibalising a PDF for Indesign

Short answer: You can’t do it.

Long answer: I’ve been given a 98 page PDF and asked to make a new version of the document with substantial changes – more text, additional images – and the original Indesign files are not available. So in this situation….

You have to rebuild from scratch – there is no way to edit a PDF in Indesign. You can create an Indesign document then “place” the PDF, but that only places the first page of a multi-page PDF (if there’s a way to place every page, please let me know).

The only handy thing this does is to automatically add spot colours from the PDF to your swatch palette: They remain even after you’ve deleted the placed PDF.

Extracting images: In Adobe Acrobat, go to Advanced > Document Processing > Export All Images. Don’t miss the “settings” button on the right. Because in making a PDF images are compressed, I have yet to figure out whether the “Export All Images” further alters the images in any way.

You can dump all the text into a .txt file with A-PDF Text Extractor.

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