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The Editable PDF Initiative

The Editable PDF Initiative is a collaborative project to turn PDF into a format that can be readily edited using a graphical or text editor, in the same way that would normally be possible using a word processing package. All specifications will be fully open and prototypes will be open-source.


PDF has long become the de facto format for exchanging print-oriented documents on the Web, and for a good reason: it works, and reliably so! However, its main drawback is that it is currently an end-of-line format, and therefore very difficult to edit.

People wishing to exchange editable documents are currently forced to use the native formats of their application, such as DOC(X), ODF, etc., missing out on the openness and visual robustness that PDF offers.

No-one should be forced to make compromises. This project aims to investigate and propose extensions to the PDF standard, giving users the best of both worlds.

We need your help!

We would love to hear your feedback, so feel free to leave a public comment on any of these pages (but please allow a short time for your comment to be moderated). If you don’t wish your comment to be made public, please send a private message instead. Please see the Contribute page if you would like to work with us more closely on developing the prototype or specifying the format.

9 thoughts on “Home

  • Having just received a non-editable pdf, and seen their overuse by government departments, can only applaud.

    We can of course use optical character recognition. But we shouldn’t have to when editable versions exist.

    • Yes, not a great experience. Messes the layout and does not work. Had to purchase PDF Studio recently for serious editing. Has Linux version. Using LibreOffice for text documents.

  • Its a good problem that you are solving and is a much appreciated initiative.
    Watch out as you are biting into a bigger Company’s profits (cough Adobe).
    Will this be an online editor or a standalone editor.
    How will it be licensed?
    Would love to see a prototype one day.

  • This is much needed for vision impaired people. I can no long read a printed document or fill out forms without help. As a PDF, I can scroll size upward so I can see it, but get lost attempting to find the correct location on the printed page. Needless to say, every form for every doctor, government office etc., that needs to be filled requires 2 people. This would give me more freedom to be in charge of my own life instead of having to depend on others for help. Thank you

  • I’d encourage you also to look through our main website (URL in title block below, and also in website window here), of most of which’s visualization-enhanced content is in a highly unorthodox, PDF-heavy, idiosyncratic format. Regrettably, Apple updated their Safari browser last year so it no longer runs PDFs in their original format.

    If you want to get the extensive content to open and run in full accordance with our authoring style, on the Mac platform, you absolutely need to use the Firefox browser. On Windows 10 PCs, Firefox also works, but so does IE v.11 if you can find it buried somewhere deep in your OS. IE v.11 is cleaner and more intuitive. Any/all other Web browsers won’t take you further than the homepages of the individual component eBooks.

    Other important instructions for Firefox: In the “preferences” pages —rather counter-intuitively— interactive PDFs won’t open interactively under Adobe/Acrobat Reader. You’ll have to use “Preview in Firefox”, and also make sure that under “Tabs” all three boxes are left unchecked. To get the stitched cylindrical virtual reality panoramas to open and run correctly, download a recent free installer for Adobe Flash from

    Thanks for all due consideration.

    Best, AP

    Alan Potkin, Ph. D.
    Team Leader, Digital Conservation Facility Laos
    Adjunct Professor, Center for Southeast Asian Studies/Center for Burma Studies
    Northern Illinois University,
    DeKalb IL 60115 USA
    Official email
    tel (+1 815) 230 9575, (+1 815) 754 0637
    Main Website:

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