Tools of the Trade

Doing it right is important to all of us. Doing it fast and economically is particularly important in business, as there can sometimes be a horribly direct linkage between our ability to push the work through and our continuity of employment.

So pointing E-EDITORís readers towards the tools that make productivity possible is at least as important as keeping them up to date on changing attitudes to split infinitives.

Cracking the PDF problem: Recognise this one? Youíve got nice, neat PDFs of last springís catalogue or your marketing brochure or a complicated contract or RFP.

The layoutís fine and you just need to update a few details here and there in the text.

But you canít. You canít edit the PDFs. Because Adobeís portable document format wonít let you. If you havenít got the original Word files to hand, you are likely to be doing an awful lot of retyping and reformatting — and wasting an awful lot of time.

The answer to this perennial e-editing problem comes in the shape of a smart little package from ScanSoft. For just under £350, PDF Converter gives you the tool you need to open PDFs up as fully editable Word files.

Columns, captions, tables and graphics are preserved and kept in the right positions, while headline fonts and sizes are also retained. Body text is changed to Times New Roman, which seems strange at first, though it's generally easy enough to change it back once you have finished editing and proofing.

The software — actually a plug-in, rather than a standalone application — works with Internet Explorer, Outlook and every version of Word from Word 97 onwards. There are few bells and whistles, but itís fast, accurate and simple to use.

ScanSoft's site quotes testimonials from Merrill Lynch and NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory claiming the PDF Converter saves them hundreds of hours when information needs to be extracted from PDFs. Not everyone recycles data on that kind of scale. But it doesn't take much of a time saving to justify £350, and there's nothing else around that does the job so quickly and easily.

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