3 client-friendly ways to create text editable files

Rebecca Creger

When your client asks for text editable files at the end of a design project, it can always be a bit tricky. You still want your document design to look professional after the client has handled the file, but most clients don’t have a working knowledge of professional software like Adobe Illustrator or InDesign.

It simply doesn’t make sense for clients to purchase expensive programs that they don’t know how to use in the first place. The software they do know how to use – MS Word or Powerpoint, for example – is often not advanced enough to create professional-looking design files.

Here are 3 different solutions, depending on the type of document involved and the software that your client has available:

  1. Re-create the design as a Microsoft Word template
  2. Create a text editable PDF in Adobe Reader
  3. Create a text editable PDF in Adobe Acrobat (most recommended)

Let’s go through how each solution works:

1. Re-create the document as a Microsoft Word template

Text editable files: Microsoft Word

Most clients are familiar with and own Microsoft Word. That being said, the application isn’t intended for creating professional, print-ready files. It’s better suited for everyday documents and reports. It’s possible to re-create your graphics entirely in Microsoft Word, but it can be time-consuming.

If you’ve created the document design in Adobe InDesign, Illustrator or Photoshop, a quick fix is to export the graphics as a high-res PNG file, insert the images into the header and footer section of the word document and save it as a template. The above example is a letterhead design, but Word can accommodate many different types of documents and sizes.

Read our step-by-step tutorial, “Convert your original design into a Microsoft Word letterhead template,” for more detailed instructions.

2. Create a text editable PDF in Adobe Reader

Text editable files: Adobe Reader

Adobe Reader is a great option for your clients to edit the text in your design files. It’s free to download and very simple to use. You can create the design in Illustrator or InDesign, save it as a PDF, and add editable text fields to the PDF file with Adobe Acrobat. Your client can open this PDF file with Adobe Reader and edit the text fields that you’ve set up for them.

It’s important to note that Adobe Reader has very limited text-styling capabilities, so once you’ve set up the PDF document with the font and text size for your client, they may not be able to change the look of the text. Having them edit the text in Adobe Reader is a great option because they can only edit the text and won’t accidentally change the look of the document.

For a more detailed explanation, check out our tutorial “Create an editable PDF business card template in 7 steps with Adobe Acrobat“.

3. Create a text editable PDF in Adobe Acrobat

Text editable files: Adobe Acrobat

To create text editable PDF documents that your client can use in Acrobat, simply create your document design in Adobe Illustrator or InDesign and export it as a PDF file.

In the above image, we’re looking at the same PDF document that has been opened in Adobe Acrobat. As you can see, there’s a lot more advanced editing and styling tools compared to Adobe Reader. Your client can change the font, position graphics, add images and much more – which is why we highly recommend this solution.

Adobe Acrobat is easy to use, gives clients the most control over the layout and has professional-looking results. PDF files edited in Adobe Reader and Adobe Acrobat are suitable for print jobs as well. While the application does need to be purchased, many clients already own and know how to use Acrobat.

Conclusion

To create text-editable PDFs for a client in Adobe Reader or Acrobat, we recommend that you draft your initial designs in Illustrator or InDesign – not Photoshop. When saving PDFs in Photoshop, the text and font information is often lost in the process, resulting into an image of text that can’t be edited.

Depending on the type of document your client needs – especially a print-ready file – it might be better for you, the designer, to edit the text yourself. However if the document is for their everyday use, make sure that the text-editable document is set up correctly.

Above all, always make sure that your client owns or purchases a license to the fonts used in your document designs.

Do you have any other tips for creating text-editable documents for clients? Share in the comments!

The author

Rebecca Creger
Rebecca Creger

Rebecca was born and raised in the Bay Area, where she currently lives. She has a BFA in Design with a Visual Communications emphasis from UC Davis. Her passions include travel, design, pasta, and hanging out with her Beagle, Spud.

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