How to Edit PDF in Google Docs without Losing Formatting (4 Ways)

Rosa Reyes
May 23, 2023 Preview 9.8K Preview 1
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Provided by Google within its Google Drive service, Google Docs is a great word processor, allowing online creation, editing and real-time collaboration of multiple users. But can we edit PDF in Google Docs? Is it possible to maintain the formatting? Find out all the answers here.

Can We Open PDF in Google Docs without Losing Formatting?

Yes, you can, but only when you open text-based PDF that has simple layout. As you can see in following picture, Google Docs opens a simple text-based PDF without losing formatting:

google docs 01

But if your PDF contains well-formatted texts, charts, graphics or background, you won’t be able to open such a PDF in Google Docs without losing formatting, you can refer to following picture. 

google docs02

In the case that you just need to open and edit a simple text-based PDF in Google Docs without losing formatting, take these steps.

  • Step 1. Log in to your Google account, go to Drive.
  • Step 2. Click +New to upload a PDF from your computer. You can also import file by dragging and dropping.edit pdf google docs 01
  • Step 3. The file will be uploaded to Google Drive. Right click and open with Google Docs.edit pdf google docs02
  • Step 4. Google Docs will convert PDF to Word and open the file. You can edit the content as you like, also you can use the Format tool to adjust the formatting if necessary.edit pdf google docs03
  • Step 5. When the editing is done, click File > Download as > PDF Document (.pdf).download edited PDF from Google Docs

However, one of the main reasons we use PDF format is its expertise to make a file look professional with elegant layout, format and versatility in contents. In other words, it is much likely we will need to open and edit a “complicate” PDF in Google Docs, and in the end, we will lose the formatting. 

Then how to edit PDF in Google Docs without changing format? Continue reading.

Easy: 2 Steps to Edit PDF in Google Docs without Loss of Formatting

Editing PDF in Google Docs and maintaining the format can be a tricky task without the help of a dedicated program. By using Cisdem PDF Converter OCR, only 2 steps are required to complete this task.

Cisdem PDF Converter OCR is designed to turn both native and scanned PDFs into Google Docs, Google Slides, Google Spreadsheet, ePub, Text, RTF, HTML, PDF/A, XOD, XPS and image without loss of formatting, on Mac and Windows. We just need to convert your PDF to Google Docs with formatting in Cisdem first, then upload the file to Google Drive and edit it in original format.

Main Features of Cisdem PDF Converter OCR

  • Convert native PDF to Word, Excel, PowerPoint, 15+ formats
  • OCR scanned PDF and images
  • Preserve original formatting
  • Customize output options
  • Batch convert files
  • Create and merge PDF from Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc.
  • Support OCR Arabic, Chinese, English, French, German, Japanese, Korean, Spanish files and so on 

Step 1. How to Convert PDF to Google Doc without Loss of Formatting

  1. To get started, download and install Cisdem PDF Converter OCR on your computer. Drag a PDF into this app.
    Free Download   Free Download
  2. Choose DOCX as the output format.edit pdf in google docs 02
  3. Click the settings button to choose a priority: text or layout. If you want to maintain the original layout, check before Text layout priority.make PDF editable
  4. Click Convert to export PDF as Google Docs Docx format and keep formatting.

Step 2. How to Edit PDF in Google Docs without Loss of Formatting

  1. Go to Google Drive and log in.
  2. Upload the Google Docs file that you convert from the PDF file, and open it with Google Docs.edit pdf with formatting 01
  3. Then edit the file with its original formatting, save or export as other format.edit pdf with formatting

Edit PDF in Google Docs without Changing Formatting Free

Saving PDF in Docx format first is a better way to edit PDF in Google Docs without changing its format, we can use Microsoft Word or online converters as well.

Edit PDF in Google Docs without Changing Formatting Free using Word

You probably have installed Microsoft Office suite on your device. MS Word app allows users to open PDF directly by converting it to Word format and matching to original layout as much as possible, though the result won’t be as good as using Cisdem, if you want t a free solution at this moment, it is worth a try.

  1. Run Word app on your device, go to Open>Browse, import the PDF file.
  2. Click OK to open the PDF in Word, you can adjust the formatting if pdf in word
  3. Upload the Word Docx file to Google Drive, open in Google Docs.
  4. Edit the file and save it.

Edit PDF in Google Docs without Changing Formatting Online Free

If you haven’t installed Word app yet, you can use online free PDF converters, here we recommend smallpdf, it can keep the original formatting to a high extent.

Smallpdf has a lot of useful tools to process PDF file, including merging, splitting, compressing, converting, signing, protecting and editing. Most of the basic features can be accessed to for free, but advanced features like OCR, batch support require Pro upgrade. However, like any other online PDF tools, the process speed is still a problem, it has users wait for long especially when a large PDF is uploaded.

  1. Visit
  2. Upload the PDF file.edit pdf in google free01
  3. Choose to Convert without OCR and continue with Choose option.edit pdf in google free02
  4. Click Download button and Save to Google Drive.edit pdf in google free03
  5. Open the file in Google Docs, edit and save the file.

Extended: Edit PDF without Changing Format

Editing PDF in Google Docs inevitably incurs the loss of formatting, can we just find a perfect tool to edit PDF without losing formatting? Yes, of course.

Unlike Google Docs, Cisdem PDFMaster is a paid app with a 14-day free trial. But its price is very affordable, $69.99 for lifetime. It has dozens of powerful tools. You can use this tool to edit, convert, create, compress, encrypt and decrypt PDF files.

The editing module is advanced, allowing users to modify texts in the file, also to annotate, comment, compare, OCR, crop, watermark, create form fields, redact and edit the pages. You can’t edit PDF in Google Docs offline, but this solution can work perfectly without Internet connection. With this tool, there is no need to edit a PDF document in Google Docs that lead to formatting issue.

Here is how to edit a PDF without changing format in Cisdem PDFMaster:

  1. Download and install Cisdem PDFMaster on your Mac or Windows PC.
    Free Download   Free Download
  2. Open PDF in pdf in pdfmaster01
  3. Go to Edit, select the texts you want to edit, edit and format the texts as needed.edit pdf in pdfmaster
  4. Click Save button to keep the changes.


If you want to edit PDF for free, Google Docs can be one of the best choices as it’s easy and reliable to use. But when you edit PDF in Google Docs, you can only get decent results with certain types of PDFs such as PDFs that only contain text or the ones with very simple formatting.

If your work involves PDF editing and manipulation, you can consider professional paid software such as Cisdem PDF Converter OCR or PDFMaster. Most PDF editing software tools come with versatile features and can also help with other PDF tasks.​

Rosa Reyes
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Rosa has worked in Mac software industry for more than eight years. She believes that the purpose of software is to make life better and work more productively. In addition to writing, Rosa is also an avid runner.

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  • Hubert Feagin

    I like editing files in Google Docs, but it messes up the formatting of my PDF very often. It seems a PDF conversion is the best way to keep the format, i like your recommendations and they did work for me.

    1 years ago commonReply

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