I sometimes get documents which have printed to / exported as PDF files. Now, Libreoffice is only willing to open these in Draw, not in Writer. I want to be able to make an ODT out of the PDF which I can then continue editing.

Required features:

  • Gratis
  • Actively maintained
  • Works in Linux
  • Creates a sequence of text as paragraphs rather numerous frames per page, each with some bit of text

Desired features:

  • Cross-platform
  • Works from the command-line without a GUI
  • Libre license
  • Actively developed
  • Infers structural features - the more the merrier: Headers, footers, endontes, footnotes, sections, breaks, multiple columns, indentation, numbered lists, styles, etc. etc.
  • Support for Right-to-Left languages (PDF printing often messes that up in annoying ways, e.g. with breaking lines according to visual order).


  • A tool which produces RTF, or DOCX, is close enough.
  • This related question:

    PDF to DOC or ODT converter

    has answers which don't meet my criteria, with the top one being opening the PDF in LibreOffice. And another related question:

    PDF to Word Converter

    does not require gratis converters, and hence got a suggestion to use Adobe Acrobat (non-gratis and on Windows).

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  • 1
    PDF is a post-script printing format, not a document format. You can't possibly guarantee a lossless one-to-one conversion/restore to any file format, let alone revert to a structured word editing document. No such information is saved in a PDF file to recover. – Duarte Farrajota Ramos Oct 17 '17 at 3:06
  • I suggest you simply use LibreOffice Draw to edit your PDFs. I realize this doesn't fit your requirements but read on. Note that while PDFs open in LibreOffice Draw they are OpenDocument Graphics files not Presentations. This is because even if it's actual text instead of a picture it is not flowed into the document it is instead placed throughout the page so things like text reflowing aren't possible. All it would do to convert it to ODT would be to basically make a graphics object or a PNG on each page which wouldn't help you. Further PDF is a printing format and may or may not have kept any – jdwolf Oct 17 '17 at 7:19
  • @DuarteFarrajotaRamos: 1. Nobody said anything about losslessness. 2. Your comment is mostly irrelevant for the case of PDFs produced by export/print from a word processor. Plenty of information is available in such PDFs to extract, and existing web-based utilities do a pretty nice job of it. – einpoklum Oct 17 '17 at 7:34
  • @jdwolf OP explicitly stated not wanting that approach. Most likely reason is given in your comment itself: one ends up with images, not text. Explicitly asking for ODT at least to me implies that text should be text, with formatting being preserved if possible (or as much as possible). Quote from requirements: "Creates a sequence of text as paragraphs" – not images. – Izzy Oct 17 '17 at 8:31

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