Many of our electrical estimating clients use PDF files as part of their everyday work. PDFs (Portable Document Format) were created to make it easy to share documents between computers and save files so that they can be viewed, but not modified. Most computers now have a PDF reader program of some sort installed.

When you work with PDF files, there are a number of useful things you can do to help manage them. Here we’re looking at a few tips:

#1. How to rotate a PDF document

Plans and other documents are often scanned as PDFs. Sometimes images end up upside down or they’re not oriented the way you need to view them (such as a picture that should be viewed horizontally that appears vertically). In these cases, you need to be able to rotate your PDF document so that it is easy to read.

To permanently rotate pages, you need PDF software such as Adobe Acrobat Pro. Note that some software that only allows you to read  PDF documents (like Adobe Reader) don’t allow you to rotate documents permanently, although most allow you to rotate them to view.

If you’re permanently rotating a document in Acrobat Pro, you navigate to “document” then “rotate pages,” as shown in the screenshot below. You then select which way you want the page to be rotated, and input the page numbers to apply the rotation to. This means that you could choose to rotate different pages in different directions if you needed to.

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In programs like Reader, look for the rotate option (which will appear differently depending on the program you’re using). Below is a screenshot of what the rotate option looks like with Microsoft Edge’s inbuilt PDF reader for Windows 10.

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Let’s say you are using Countfire and have uploaded drawings already. If you find that any PDFs need rotating, you can actually do this within the software. We have a very simple tutorial here to show you how.

Get the bonus content: How to add a watermark to your PDF document

#2. How to delete pages from a PDF document

Knowing how to delete pages can be useful, especially if pages are added that aren’t needed and you want to reduce the file size.

There are a few different ways to delete pages from a PDF, depending on which programs you have available. Here are a couple of different options:

  1. Use Adobe Acrobat. This again has to be the paid version and not Adobe Reader. To delete pages, click the “page thumbnails” button which is at the left-hand side of the pane. This shows you all of the pages in thumbnail form.

    From here, select any pages that you want to delete, then click the “delete” button at the top of the thumbnails pane.
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  2. If you use a Mac, you can delete PDF pages by using the preview function. Right-click on the PDF document then select “open with” and “preview.” From the “view” menu at the top, select thumbnails – this will show all pages in a thumbnail view.

    Select all pages that you would like to delete (you can hold down “command” and select multiple pages if needed). Go to the “edit” menu and select “delete” – this will delete every page you selected.

#3. How to merge PDF files

Sometimes when documents have been scanned at different times, you’d like to merge them together into one PDF file. Again, there are several ways to go about this. A quick search online reveals some programs that are set up to do this for free, while you can also use paid programs like Adobe Acrobat Pro.

What’s the difference between free and paid software? It can often come down to what you’re able to do with it. Free software will often have limitations, such as the number of documents you can merge. These types of software might also put their own watermark on your documents for advertising purposes.

Another consideration with free software is that it may not have the best security protocols behind it. If security or privacy is important for your PDF documents and you’re a regular user of them, then paid software is usually a safer bet to make.

Do your homework on free PDF software - it may have some major limitations Click To Tweet

Here’s how to merge PDF files:

Using Adobe Acrobat – Click the “tools” menu at the top left-hand corner and select “combine files.”

Click the blue “add files” button and select all PDF files that you’d like to combine. Once selected, click the blue “combine files” button at the top right of the screen. With your PDF files now combined, “save as” to save your new file wherever you need it.

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#4. How to password protect your PDF

Password protection is one of the simplest ways to secure your PDF, although it is by no means foolproof. The password still needs to be provided to the recipient, and this is often not done by the most secure means.

Still, a password provides some level of security. As with previous PDF functions, there are many methods for password protecting your file, so we’ll look at just a couple here. Again, you will find multiple different programs available online to help you manage password protection on your PDF files.

  1. From Word. Many PDF files begin life as a Word document, and you can password protect them before they are converted to PDF. When saving your document, select “save as” and choose the PDF option from the dropdown menu.

    Underneath you will see a box that says “more options.” Select this and then click on the “options” button in the box that pops up. Select “encrypt document with a password” then enter your chosen password twice, as prompted. Hit save – now people who open the document from any program will be asked for a password.
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  2. In Adobe Acrobat – Navigate the program via Tools > Protect > Encrypt > Encrypt with Password. Select “Require a Password to Open the Document,” then type your password choice in the corresponding field.

    Select a version of Acrobat from the Compatibility drop-down. It’s important to choose a version that is equal to or lower than the recipient’s version. You now choose an encryption option. Note that if you choose “except metadata”, search engines can still access document metadata. Click “Ok” then confirm the password a second time.

#5. How to sign a PDF

Do you ever receive contracts via PDF document and need to sign them? You can do this electronically, rather than printing and signing documents.

First of all, there are two different terms you need to understand:

  1. Electronic signature – this refers to an image of your signature, overlaid on a PDF document.
  2. Digital signature – this is more complicated. It refers to an encryption that ensures someone with your unique private signing key has seen and authorised the document.

For this article, we’ll look at electronic signatures as these are more likely to be used. You can add your signature to a PDF document quite easily by using the free Adobe Reader software. To do so:

  1. Open the PDF file in Reader
  2. Click the “fill and sign” button at the right-hand pane
  3. Click the “sign” button then select “add signature”
  4. Choose from “type” (you type your signature and it renders an electronic signature that will not look like your real signature), “draw” (you draw your signature with your mouse) or “image” (you upload a scanned image of your real signature – this will then be saved for use next time)
  5. Position your signature where you want it and click “apply”
  6. Save your signed PDF.
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#6. How to extract pages from a PDF

There may be times when you have a large PDF file made up of several parts for which you’d like to split or extract pages.

You could do this with your paid software such as Adobe Acrobat, but we’re going to show you a quick trick for doing it with your Chrome browser. Here’s how:

  1. Find the PDF you’d like to extract pages from in your files
  2. Right click and select “Open with” then “Google Chrome.”
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  3. Hit “Ctrl + P” to open print options and click “Change” to select “Save as PDF”
  4. Under “pages” select the button that allows you to choose pages and enter the ones you’d like to extract
  5. Click save and choose where you’d like to save your new file to.
Download our “how to” for watermarking your PDF here

#7. How to search a PDF

You may need to search your PDF document for certain terms or words. If your document is long, this would be very time-consuming if done manually. You can search in various PDF programs, but there is also a very easy way using the “open with Google Chrome” method we talked about in the last section. Here it is:

  1. Right click on your PDF file and select “Open with” then “Google Chrome”
  2. At the top right-hand corner of your screen, you will see three vertical dots – click there then select “Find” from the menu
    Manage PDFs
  3. Type in the search term you want to find in the search box that pops up
  4. You can scroll up or down using the arrows in the search box to move between examples of your search term.

There you have it! PDF documents are very useful for sharing information electronically, potentially saving on paper consumption too. By learning a few management techniques, you can ditch the printer and achieve exactly what you need.