importing PDFs and similar documents

In the course of my research I collect a lot of PDFs, articles in scholarly journals, magazine pieces, etc. As I read them, I want to be able to do things like highlight, underline, and make boldface, so that I can quickly find key passages later. But when I import PDFs and some other documents into Scrivener, I can’t do that-- there seems to be no way to change the text. Is there a way to?

I’ve tried copying texts from external documents and pasting them in Scrivener, but not only do I lose accompanying things like photos and art, but the text often collapses, losing indentation and/or spacing between paragraphs and titles. Is there a time-saving way to restore the text to a readable form?

I doubt it. When I import PDFs into Scrivener I can’t even see highlighting made with other programs. You should post this in the wish list section

No need to re-post in the Wish List forum. PDF, by its very nature, isn’t an editable format - and Scrivener isn’t a PDF editor. If you just want to annotation a PDF file, then you can do the following:

  1. Use Documents > Open > in External Editor, or click on the external editor button in the footer bar (the “A” with the paintbrush etc). Hold down that button for a second to choose which external editor to use.

  2. The PDF file will open in an external editor - edit it, save it and close it.

  3. Click on the “reload” button in the footer bar.

I don’t know of any PDF editors that allow you to do much more than annotation and highlight, though (you can highlight directly in Scrivener using shift-cmd-H, by the way). The whole point of the PDF format is that it “freezes” the text as-is; it’s the digital equivalent of a paper copy - you can draw over it but you can’t edit it.

You can convert PDF files to editable text within Scrivener by using Documents > Convert > PDF File to Text. As you’ve found when copying and pasting from PDF files, though, you’ll find that much of the formatting is lost, along with images and suchlike - again PDF files are protected in many ways, deliberately making it difficult to extract their content.

All the best,