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Reading PDFs – Superpain.

I face this huge problem of late.

I have a lot of documents to be read which are in the .pdf format. Fine, it’s a universal format, yada yada.

It however is not without its pitfalls.

Firstly, .PDF is more for the visualization than for the content. By this, I mean once you write something to a .pdf file, it’s like you’ve written it to paper. It’s a format for printing out stuff more than anything else. So while there is plenty of software to create .pdf files, there are very few to actually edit them.

So why do I want to edit .pdf files? Well, most academic papers are written with 11pt or 12pt font which doesn’t make for easy reading. And I abhor the large spaces wasted in the margins. I tried Foxit PDF editor, but it turns out that it lets you correct typos, add images, delete images, and add and delete pages, but that’s about it. It won’t let you modify a file in the true sense of the word.

So convert it to Word format. I found an online PDF to DOC converter, and did so.

Job done, right?

No.

You change the font size, it messes up the equations and tables and general layout. You decrease the size of the margins, same issue.

Oh dear god, I really wish I had the original LaTeX source that I could just modify small bits of it, or fit the same text and images into a layout better suited for reading. But trying to do that from a .pdf is like trying to get a live cow from roast beef.

It’s about time proceedings of NIPS and CHI got published in Kindle format, don’t you think? Papers are written to be read, right?

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