The ultimate trick to copy and paste text from PDF to MS Word without having to erase line breaks by hand


In daily office work it is common to resort to cut & catch to pass information from one document to another. However, the differences in formats between documents you can turn something as simple as Ctrl + C / Ctrl + V into a nightmare.

I mean, have you ever tried copy text from a PDF (when possible and not a mere scan, which is not that uncommon) and paste it into a word processor? You will have verified that a line break is inserted at the end of each line original, right?

It is not much of a problem when we talk about a short paragraph, but what if we need to copy and paste the content of several pages? A nightmare, as I said: the way the text is pasted forces us to the tedious task to go line by line fixing it so that it is legible and presentable.

It is true that there are online tools and services (such as RemoveLinebreaks) that can help us solve this problem, but it would be appreciated to be able to do it directly from Word (or any other similar software you use to routinely work with texts).

The point is that yes there is a trick that allows it, and a university history researcher named Alice Hicklin has achieved great success on Twitter revealing it:

“If you spend a lot of time copying text from PDF files to Word like I do, I hope this tip can be helpful. If the PDF ends up splitting over a lot of lines, you don’t need to fix it manually. Just go to Find and Replace, type ^ p to find and a space to replace “.

You can open the ‘Find and Replace’ dialog using the keyboard shortcut Control + L in MS Word

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Difference between ‘line break’ and ‘paragraph mark’

Technically, ‘^p‘is what we know as a “paragraph mark”, while to find and replace line breaks proper we should use the combination ‘^l in the ‘Replace’ field. The first is the result of pressing ‘Enter’, and the second is the result of pressing ‘Mayúsc + Enter‘.

This is possible thanks to the fact that Microsoft Word – like other word processors – allows us to search not only text, but also special non-printable characters (Although they can be displayed if we wish: in ‘File> Options> Presentation’ we can activate the display of paragraph marks, which will be shown with this symbol: ¶).


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