Add, remove, and replace PDF pages

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The other day, we looked at ways to extract content from finished PDF files using Adobe Acrobat 9 Pro. But extracting content is not the only reason to revisit a finished PDF.

For example, one of the many uses I have for Adobe Acrobat's PDFs is to produce quarterly reports for my design clients. If you’ve ever done this sort of work, you know that parts of such reports—such as spreadsheets and charts—can change right up until the very last minute. That could mean multiple exports of an entire report to PDF format. The process can be time-consuming and tedious or it could be a matter of simply adding, removing, or replacing one or just a few pages in a long document. Here’s how to perform such PDF maneuvers easily.

Removing pages

Deleting one or more pages from a PDF file with Acrobat Pro is a snap. Simply choose Document -> Delete Pages, and then choose the page or pages to remove. You can choose the selected page, available when one or more pages are highlighted in the Pages navigation panel, or specify one or more pages by range with the From radio button in the Delete Pages dialog. Click OK to delete the page(s) and then save.

Deleting pages dialog.

Adding pages

Adding pages to a PDF file is almost as easy as deleting them. In the Document menu you’ll find the Insert Pages command, offering you the opportunity to insert an external PDF file. Select the file and, once you hit the Select button, you’ll see the Insert Pages dialog box. At this point you must decide where you’d like to insert the new file—before or after the first or last page in the current PDF, or before or after a specific page number. Make your choices, click OK, and save your newly combined PDF.

Insert pages dialog.

Replacing pages

Sometimes you need to both remove and insert pages, replacing an old version of a page or page sequence with a new version. That can be accomplished in one step instead of two—as long as you’re replacing the same number of pages as you want to insert. Choose Document -> Replace Pages, and find and select the PDF containing the new material you want to use. Next, in the Replace Pages dialog, which appears automatically, select the page or pages to remove and then the pages to insert. Note that the [Replacement] With Pages window allows you to specify only the starting page number. If you’re replacing five pages, Acrobat has you insert five pages, beginning with the page number you specify, and continuing in sequential order. Click OK and then save.

Replacing pages in an existing document with new versions from an external document.

This technique is much easier than re-generating an entire PDF document. Just don’t tell the boss how easy it was; keep them thinking it’s a major chore, otherwise they may send changes even more often!

[Pariah S. Burke is the author of Mastering InDesign CS3 for Print Design and Production (Sybex, 2007), and other books; a freelance graphic designer; and the publisher of the Web sites,, and Pariah lives in Portland, Ore.]

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