As a document proceeds through its lifecycle, it can undergo many
changes. It might be assembled from individual sections and then
compiled into a larger report. Individual pages might be copied into
a personal reference document. Sections might be replaced as new
information becomes available. Some documents are agglomerations of
smaller pieces, like an expense report with all of its lovely and
easily lost receipts.
While it's easy to manipulate paper pages by hand,
you must use a program to manipulate PDF pages. Adobe Acrobat can do
this for you, but it is expensive. Other commercial products, such as
FyTek (http://www.fytek.com), also provide this
basic functionality. It has a free
demo but is otherwise $59.95. PDF File Save is free, and a mini-PDF
product (PDF Briefcase) is free.
Quickly Combine Pages in Acrobat
In Acrobat 6, select File
→ Create PDF → From Multiple Files . . . . Click
the Browse . . . button (Choose . . . on a Macintosh) to open a file
selector. You can select multiple files at once. On Windows, you can
select a variety of file types, including Microsoft Office documents.
Arrange the files into the desired order and click OK.
To quickly combine two PDF documents using
Acrobat 5, begin by opening the
first PDF in Acrobat. In the Windows File Explorer, select the PDF
you want to append, drag it over the PDF open in Acrobat, and then
drop it. A dialog will open, asking where you want to insert the PDF.
Select After Last Page and it will be appended to the first PDF.
If you have a folder of PDF files to combine and their order in the
Windows File Explorer is the order you want in the final document,
begin by opening the first PDF in Acrobat 5. Next, in the File
Explorer, select the remaining PDFs to merge. Finally, click the
first PDF in this selection, as shown in , drag the selection over the PDF currently
open in Acrobat, and then drop it. A dialog will open, asking where
you want to insert these PDFs. Select After Last Page and they will
be appended to the first PDF. Review the document to ensure the PDFs
were appended in the correct order.
Figure 1. Clicking the first document in your selection when you drag-and-drop into Acrobat 5
Acrobat also allows you to arrange, move, and copy PDF pages using
its Thumbnails view .
Manipulate Pages with pdftk, the PDF Toolkit
pdftk is a command-line tool for doing
everyday things with PDF documents. It can combine PDF documents into
a single document or split individual pages out into a new PDF
document. Read to install pdftk
and our handy command-line shortcut. pdftk is free software.
Open a command prompt and then change the working directory to the
folder that holds the input PDF files. Or, you can open a handy
command line by right-clicking the folder that holds your input PDF
files and selecting Command from the context menu.
Instead of typing the input PDF filename, drag-and-drop the PDF file
from the Windows File Explorer into the command prompt. Its full
filename will appear at the cursor.
To combine pages into one document, invoke pdftk like so:
pdftk <input PDF files> cat [<input PDF pages>] output <output PDF filename>
A couple of quick examples give you the flavor of it. Here is an
example of combining the first page of in2.pdf,
the even pages in in1.pdf, and then the odd
pages of in1.pdf to create a new PDF named
pdftk A=in1.pdf B=in2.pdf cat B1 A1-endeven A1-endodd output out.pdf
Here is an example of combining a folder of documents to create a new
PDF named combined.pdf. The documents will be
pdftk *.pdf cat output combined.pdf
Now, let's dig into the parameters:
- <input PDF files>
Input PDF filenames are associated with handles like so:
<input PDF handle>=<input PDF filename>
where a handle is a single, uppercase letter. For example,
A=in1.pdf associates the handle
A with the file in1.pdf.
- Specify multiple input PDF files like so:
A=in1.pdf B=in2.pdf C=in3.pdf
A file handle is necessary only when combining specific pages or when
the input file requires a password.
- [<input PDF pages>]
Describe input PDF page ranges like so:
<input PDF handle>[<begin page number>[-<end page number>[<qualifier>]]]
where the handle identifies one of the input PDF files, and the
beginning and ending page numbers are one-based references to pages
in that PDF file. The qualifier can be even or
odd. A few examples make this clearer. If
Means the first 12 pages of in1.pdf
Means pages 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, and 12
Means pages 12, 10, 8, 6, 4, and 2
Means all the pages from in1.pdf
Means the same thing as A1-end
Means page 10 from in1.pdf
You can see from these examples that page ranges also specify the
output page order. Notice the keyword
end, which refers to the
final page in a PDF.
Specify a sequence of page ranges like so:
A1 B1-end C5
When combining all the input PDF documents in their given order, you
can omit the <inputPDFpages> section.
- <output PDF filename>
The output PDF filename must be different from any of the input
If any of the input files are encrypted, you will need to supply
their owner passwords .