PDF Tricks for Researchers

10 PDF Tricks Every Researcher Needs to Know

PDF Tricks, Magic Hat, Magic tricks, PDF
PDF Tricks for Researchers

PDF files are the best way to store, share and read your documents without disturbing the format of the original file. Being a researcher, you will encounter a lot of PDFs during your research span.

Whether it’s your résumé, research paper, a tax form, e-book, user guide or a web page, you can’t go wrong using a PDF. Chances are you’ve already got a free PDF reader installed on your computer, but you can do a lot more with your PDF files than you might think. Following are 10 best tricks that you can do with your PDF files.

Convert PDF to Word Online

PDF to Doc ConverterConverting PDF file to Word is necessary when you want to make certain changes in your PDF such as changing design, photos or text. I found it also useful in copying text or images from a PDF file. Adobe Acrobat premium can do this for but it cost you a paid subscription.

A PDF file can be converted into Word for free using a tool known as smallPDF. This tool has a limit of 2 conversions in an hour. If you want to do more than that, you can use another tool PDF to DOCX.

Speed Up PDF File

PDF can be very slow sometimes to open. This primarily occurs due to the too much multimedia content in your PDF or unnecessary add-ons in installed with your PDF Reader. There is a tool which makes Acrobat and Reader load faster by disabling plug-ins, updates, splash screens, and other startup slowdowns.

You can allow the plug-ins and features you want or enable them as you need them. You can download the tool from CNET.

Merge PDF Files Online

Sometimes you need to combine different book chapters or research papers in a single PDF. Merging those PDF files can help you a lot and saves you from the trouble of handling these files anymore.

You guessed right! there is a free online tool that lets you combine multiple PDF files into one single file. Now either it’s the multiple quotations files of your chemicals for project or book chapters, merge them and either send them or keep them as one. Use the tool here.

Edit PDF Files Online

I love to write, draw shapes and add different images to PDF files. I do it for different purposes including,

  • Making notes for myself while reading PDF
  • Replacing some text or the photo
  • Explaining any point in PDF before sending to someone

It matters how it serves your purpose but editing PDF is very helpful especially when you can do it online for free on this tool.

Password Protect PDF File Online

Encryption (simply Password Protection) of PDF file can help you to hide the content of your file and ensures the secrecy. There are two different ways to do. One is while creating the PDF file using Microsoft Office. This is the built-in feature of Microsoft Office. This can be applied to .Docx files also. How to Geek have explained it how to do it.

Alternatively, this can be done via an online tool as well. You just have to upload your file to this tool and this will password protect your PDF file. Above method is more recommended than this one.

Remove Password of PDF File Online

Removing password from PDF file is possible if the encryption used on the file is not so much strong. If the encryption is strong, you won’t be able to remove the password. There is an online tool that can remove the password from the PDF file for you. You can use this tool here.

Add Watermark to PDF File Online

Watermarking the PDF file can be very useful if you are going to make your report or paper public. This will help you in branding as well as promoting your organization or institution. Watermark can be added while creating the PDF file using your office software as explained on Microsoft Website.

If you have already created the PDF file, then you can do this now as well. Using this tool, you can not only stamp text on the PDF file as a watermark but Images as well.

Convert PDF to JPEG or PNG Online

If you are looking to send a specific graph, chart or photo from a PDF to someone then converting your PDF into JPEG or PNG can be helpful. You don’t need to send the whole file to the recipient. Webmasters or bloggers also require this when they want to show some part of the PDF online while overloading their web page.

There is no technicality in converting the PDF file into PNG, an online tool can do this for free in few seconds. You can do this using this online tool.

Convert Any format to PDF Online

If you are working with any application of Microsoft Office, you can convert it into PDF file using built-in save as function. But if there is any other file format you are working with or somehow if your that function is not working, you can use this free online tool to convert your any file format to PDF.

Save Web page as PDF

This is a very routine thing for me to save the web page as PDF. It helps me to read articles later offline or print them. You can also use this feature when you have a limited access to some web page or research article.

This can be done directly using browser action. Press Ctrl + P, a dialogue box will appear. Click on “Change” and select the option of PDF and then press the blue button of save as demonstrated in below picture.

Saving Web page as PDF using Browser built in feature


These PDF tricks are entirely based on my own experience. You can also contribute to this article by sharing your experience in the comment box below. Please make sure to share this article with your friends and colleagues.


Paid research tools free download

Free Alternatives to Paid Research Tools

If you are a researcher and think this post isn’t for you then you are wrong. You are going to use almost every software listed below and this will cost you a lot of money.

Sometimes, use of the software is mandatory and other times we use them just to make our effort more productive. In any case, spending a lot of money on paid research tools and software is not the wise option especially when you have free alternatives available.

10 Best Free Research Tools

In this post, we have gathered some nice alternatives to top paid research tools that are being in research or academia, either in lab or publishing.

LibreOffice – Free Alternative to Microsoft Office 365 Suite

Microsoft Office is the software you are going to use almost every day in the lab. Either to write your reports and assignments or to present your data to the supervisors.  Microsoft Office is a complete suite of amazing apps with tons of features.

Free Alternative of Microsoft Office
LibreOffice – Fee alternative of Microsoft Office

It’s a nightmare for a researcher if his/her office suite is not working, any app of it. The most common reason is we mostly install cracked or pirated copy of Microsoft Office on our computer.

LibreOffice is top alternative to Microsoft Office suite due to almost same features. It’s an Open Source project and hundreds of developers are contributing towards its development. LibreOffice includes following apps in its suite,

  • Write – Word-Processing tool like MS Office Word
  • Calc – Spreadsheet tool like MS Office Excel
  • ImpressPresentation tool like MS Office PowerPoint
  • Base – Database tool like MS Office Access
  • Draw – Drawing tools for 2D/3D diagrams and flowcharts
  • Math – Mathematical and Scientific formula tool
  • Charts – Create and embed various types of charts

Few Other alternatives to MS Office

  • OpenOffice – Open source alternative to MS Office.
  • Google Docs – Online browser based Office suite
  • Office Online – Microsoft’s online office tool with limited functionality but free

JabRef – Free Alternative to EndNote Citation Manager

In each paper, a researcher or writer has to deal with hundreds of citations in their papers. Adding, Organizing and writing in required format can be a real headache for anyone. Good citation manager must have following features

  • Import citation from every journal and research search engine.
  • Sort them into different libraries.
  • Make backup files of them that can be shared via cloud
  • Export those file in your word processing software.

EndNote is most favorite and famous citation manager software among the researchers due to the certain features or just because certain journals recommend it because it is developed by Thomson Reuters. But EndNote can cost you a lot of money and here we are discussing top alternatives to EndNote citation manager.

JabRef is our top participant. The file format used by JabRef is BibTeX, the standard LaTeX bibliography format. This makes it compatible with almost every journal and search engine.

This free alternative of EndNote can import various file formats including PubMed’ XML, EndNote, and OVID etc. This citation manager is very light weight due to being Java-based. This EndNote alternative is compatible with Linx and Mac OS X as well.

Few Other Alternatives to EndNote

  • Mendeley – Complete cloud-based reference management suite
  • Zotero – Utility to create, organize and share citations with free online space
  • Citethisforme – Quick-use browser based tool to create citations from journals, books, and websites.

GNU Octave – Free Alternative to MATLAB Suite by Mathworks

MATLAB is a mathematical software widely being used by almost in every field. From signal processing to designing models for genetics, everyone is crazy about this software. Unfortunately, complete package of this software cost a lot of money to its users so they are compelled to use pirated versions of this software.

Octave is a free alternative to MATLAB suite and distributed under GNU license. Some of the features in this free alternative to MATLAB you will be looking,

  • Multi platform supported including Mac, Windows, and BSD
  • Built-in plotting and visualizations tools
  • Ability to install more packages in it
  • Compatible with most MATLAB scripts

Few Other Alternatives to MATLAB

  • Scilab – Open Source alternative to MATLAB which supports all major platforms and very similar to Octave and MATLAB
  • Sage – Built on top of a variety of well-known Python-based scientific computing libraries, and its own language is syntactically similar to Python.

PSPP – Free Alternative to IBM SPSS Software

SPSS by IBM is an analytics tool for statisticians. But its use is not confined to them only. Every researcher dealing with some data have to deal with it to save time. It’s a more advanced and feature-rich form of Office Excel designed to perform statistical operations on data for analysis.

Not only you have to pay a huge amount of money while purchasing the activation for your SPSS but later on you need to pay again to renew your subscription and add advanced packages in your software suite.

PSPP comes as the best free alternative to SPSS distributed by GNU. It is very similar to the IBM SPSS software except for the following things,

  • It will not expire
  • No money needed to buy advanced features
  • Support for over 1 billion cases and variables
  • The capability to open, analyze and edit two or more data sets concurrently. They can also be merged, joined or concatenated.

While reading and reviewing the PSPP – a better version of paid SPSS, I found no reason to prefer SPSS over it.

FreeCAD – Free Alternative to AutoCAD software

Computer aided designing is a technology which helps us to make the models of real life objects either it’s a house or a car. Primarily architects are using it for designing different models. Different other sciences like aeronautics and even biology are also using it to make models of different components.

FreeCAD is a best free alternative to AutoCAD paid software. Some of its features are following,

  • Multi platform application
  • Full GUI
  • Command line interface also supported
  • Plugin/Module framework

If you want us to review any other alternative of the paid tool, please feel free to reach us via the comment section below. Your feedback will us to improve our future posts.

How to Create a Flowchart in PowerPoint 2013

PowerPoint is not reserved for the Presentations or Slides only. This tool can also be used to create interactive Flowcharts to show different processes, decisions, tree diagrams and concept maps. Later on, these flowcharts can be saved in many file types including .png and .pdf. In this tutorial, we will learn about how to make flowcharts in Microsoft Office PowerPoint using five very simple and easy steps.

Configuring Slides Size

  • Open the PowerPoint application.
  • Add new Blank Slide.
  • Click on “Design” Tab.
  • On Right side, Click on “Custom Size” Option in slide size icon.
Flowchart in PowerPoint, Slide configuration
Figure 1: Configuring the Slide size in PowerPoint

 Draw Shapes of the Flowchart

  • Click the “Insert” tab
  • Click on “Shapes” and select the appropriate shape for your flowchart.
  • Join these shapes with different arrows.

Tip: Copy/Paste the shapes and arrows to keep their size same.

Different shapes and arrows in the flowchart
Figure 2: Different shapes and arrows in the flowchart of Cellulose based Product Tree

Write content in the Shapes

  • Click on the “Text Box” and add boxes in the shapes
  • Write content in the text boxes
  • Adjust the size of text box and font of the text according to need.
Write content in the shapes of flowchart designed in PowerPoint
Figure 3: Write the Content in the Shapes using “Text Box”

Final touch to your flowchart

  • Check the size of the different shapes and align them in a possible way.
  • Change colors of the slides according to your requirement.
  • Make sure Arrows are of the same width.

Saving your Flowchart as PDF or PNG

You don’t always have to present that flowchart using PowerPoint presentation. You can save it as PDF or PNG to use it in any article or your other publication. So this how you do it.

  • Click on “File”
  • Select “Save as”
  • Decide your destination
  • Select “Portable Network Graphics (PNG)/PDF” in “Select as type” while saving.
Save your flowcharts as PDF or PNG
Figure 4: Save your Flowchart as PNG or PDF


Download: Sample Flowchart of Cellulose Based Product Tree

Please make sure to share your views and comments with us in the comment section so we can make our tutorials more better for you.