Creating PDF without losing formatting of document

Hi all,
I’m an online college instructor. My students upload their papers in *docx format, I want to edit them in a PDF program so I can use my Apple Pencil 2. I access the papers through Safari and they open in a new tab. The problem is that double spaced papers are single spaced, footnotes misarranged, and margins are adjusted incorrectly.

Here’s what I have to do to get a PDF for annotation and keep the formatting and pagination:

  1. Using the share sheet in Safari, I send the document to Pages.
  2. In Pages, I export the file as a PDF and when prompted
  3. I save as PDF and the send to PDF Expert.
  4. Then I annotate.
    This process leaves documents in different places in the file system.

Is there a way to cut Pages out of the loop. I would love to go straight from Safari to PDF Expert. But when I do this, all of the pagination problems are still there. I think this is beyond what Shortcuts can do. Also, none of the share sheet options for creating or converting a PDF preserve the original formatting.

I know this isn’t a terrible problem, but when I have to grade 40-50 essays, every step I can save is important. I would love to automate the process as much as possible.

Jim Adams. KY USA

Have you considered asking your students to submit as PDF? Word can export to PDF natively on Mac, iOS and Windows and it is very simple to do in all cases.


I’m a teacher as well and used to have this problem but now just require students to upload as a PDF. I always include these two help pages

This has saved me all kinds of headaches! Additionally, we use Canvas as our LMS and there is a setting that I use that just requires the upload to be a PDF.


Would RTF as an intermediate format help?


Hi all,
I think asking the students to submit as PDF would be far easier. I will suggest that to one of my classes and see how it goes. I’ll put together a step-by-step guide so they won’t have much problem doing that. I will need to check with my department chair to make sure this is OK. I don’t know why it wouldn’t, but sometimes they can be finicky.

Thanks for all you responses.



Jim, I find this Shortcut to be indispensable - I believe it’s from an issue of Club MacStories, and it uses the API of the site CloudConvert to convert docs into PDFs while preserving the formatting very well. There are some limitations to the number of requests a day for a free account, etc., but I now use this all the time when people send me docs in advance of meetings.

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