Converting PDFs to Word documents using Office 365

Black Cat guidesIf you are working on PDF page proofs, or on hard copy with the PDF as a backup, it’s handy to be able to convert that file to a Word document. Once you’ve got a copy in Word, you can run tools such as PerfectIt, macros, and good old spellcheck (it’s amazing what that can still pick up at proof stage).

There are lots of paid-for ways of converting a PDF to a document you can work with in Word, but if you have Office 365 (the subscription for the suite of Microsoft Office programs) or a stand-alone copy of Word 2016 then you already have the means to convert the file. It isn’t a perfect conversion, and the conversion process struggles with files that contain lots of images, but the result is usually good enough to work with.

The process for Mac users is a little more complex – I’ll come to that later – but for now, here’s the method if you are running Windows 10:

Find your PDF and right click on it. Go to ‘Open with’ and then select Word.

Converting to Word

Word will load, and then you’ll see this information box:

Converting to Word 2

Click ‘OK’. It will take anything from a few seconds to a few minutes for Word to perform the conversion, but in due course you will have an editable and searchable Word document. I’d advise saving (‘Save As’, so you can modify the title and properties if you need to) this file before you begin working on it.

Converting using Word Online

Mac users can’t (as far as I know) use the simple right-click method above – but do not despair. If you have an Office 365 subscription, you can use Word Online and OneDrive to do the job instead.

Go to You’ll probably have to log in if you aren’t already signed in to Outlook Email (on the web, not the desktop program). You should be presented with a page like this:

OneDrive load page ed

Then click on ‘Upload’ and choose ‘Files’. Find the PDF you want to convert and upload it. Click on the file and it will take you to a new screen.

Open in Word Online ed

Go to ‘Open’ and choose ‘Open in Word Online’ and then click ‘Edit in Word’.

Edit in WordEdWe’re nearly there. You’ll see this pop-up box asking you to confirm the conversion:

File conversion

Once the conversion is complete, click ‘View’. On the new page, click ‘Edit document’ and then choose ‘Edit in Word’.

Edit in Word link

It’ll open your desktop version of Word and load the file. I strongly recommend saving a local version of the document before you start using it.


The Black Cat monthly round-up: July 2018

July has been a busy month, and the UK heatwave didn’t help productivity at Black Cat HQ. The tower fan and lots of ice cream have got us through.

The launch

Black Cat Editorial Services has been up and running for a week. The name and brand have been well received, and I am so very grateful for all the support that has been shown.

Things I’ve been working on

The monthly round-up_ July 2018(1)It’s been all books this July and all for publishing houses. I started the month with a proofread of a biography of an amateur runner, and then took on an epic work of fiction set during the English Civil War. It reminded me of one of the great strengths of fiction: it made that period feel real. It was no longer merely a series of conflicts that happened hundreds of years ago; it was a terrifying, almost tangible reality.

I finished July with the proofread of a lovely novel about an elderly gentleman who didn’t feel part of the world anymore. It was beautifully and thoughtfully written.

Local meeting

The SfEP West Surrey and North Hants local meeting took place in early July. We managed to nab an outside table at the Heron on the Lake in Fleet. It was a beautiful day, and a lovely lunch in good company. Discussion included our current projects and the merits, or otherwise, of the training courses we had undertaken. The next local meeting will be in September.

Looking ahead

No summer holiday for me this year. But August won’t just be for work: I’ve signed up for Future Learn’s Introduction to Linguistics course, which looks fascinating. My thanks go to Hugh Jackson for alerting me to its existence.

Black Cat Editorial Services: an evolution

Three years ago I was a fledgling proofreader; I’d just finished my initial training and I was ready to take on my first projects. I was nervous and shy and full of self-doubt. The whole experience was intensely difficult.

Fast forward to July 2018 and I am launching Black Cat Editorial Services. I’m nervous, but not quite as shy, and the self-doubt is not so overwhelming. I have behind me the knowledge and experience gained from more than 60 projects, of three years of working as a freelance editorial professional. Black Cat Editorial Services is a natural progression; I have the skill and confidence to offer more to my clients than I could three years ago.

So, it’s goodbye to the old website ( and hello to the new one ( And it’s hello to offering copy-editing, manuscript critique, and style sheet creation services.

Thank you to everyone who has helped me to reach this point: family, friends, clients and colleagues. I couldn’t have done it without you.