PDFs, Docs, and Pages: Five Problems Students Face with Document Formats

By eLearning Inside
October 16, 2020

As a student, you might feel perfectly comfortable with technology. Perhaps your very first device was a smartphone. Maybe you’re highly efficient at communicating on social media, and you’ve organized your family into a WhatsApp group.

But document formats can cause some serious headaches – however confident you normally feel with technology.

Whether it’s getting your files into the right format in the first place, or converting between different formats, here are some issues that come up again and again. For each, we’ll cover a simple solution too.

Problem #1: You Can’t Easily Edit or Copy and Paste Text in a PDF

Have you received a bunch of handouts – or even your own past work – in PDF format? When you want to quote from something, it’s definitely easier to copy and paste it rather than retype it all … but copying and pasting from PDFs doesn’t always work well.

You may well be able to copy the text but it ends up with unwanted line breaks or strange formatting.

Solution: Use a PDF Converter

The easiest way to make your PDFs much more usable is to convert them into a different format. For instance, you could convert a PDF to word so that you can easily edit it or copy and paste sections from it. Other free tools, like PDF Architect 8, enable edits to PDF files without conversion.

Problem #2: Word Documents Can Become Damaged or Corrupted

Picture this: you’ve almost finished a huge essay, and you open up the file to do a final proofread of it … only to get a message saying that the file can’t be opened. Frantically, you scan your laptop for a previous version, only to realize this was your only copy.

Despite Microsoft regularly adding new features to Word, your documents can become damaged or corrupted. You can try to recover the file, but this doesn’t always work.

Solution: Make Regular Backups

Save a copy of your document at regular intervals. You might want to upload it to a cloud service, or even simply email it to yourself. That way, if the main file becomes corrupted, you can still access a recent backup.

Problem #3: Your Word or Pages Files Are Formatted Inconsistently

Do you know how to use the Styles feature properly in Word or Pages? If you’re creating subheadings in your essays by manually changing the size of the text each time, you’re spending more time than you need to and you’re not formatting your text correctly.

Using Styles means you can easily create a table of contents. You can also change things like the style of your quotation paragraphs or your subheadings with just a couple of clicks.

Solution: Learn About Styles

There are plenty of online guides, tutorials, and videos that can help you get to grips with using Styles. They’re not difficult at all, and once you’re using them, you’ll find that they can save you a lot of time and make your documents look great.

Document formats can be a bit of a headache, but simple tools like online converters, and simple practices like making regular backups, can make things much easier.

Featured Image: Romain V, Unsplash.


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