A couple months back I posted a review about Bluebeam stating how much better the PDF editing document was for working on tax returns than the competing software. Revu, after reading the review, was kind enough to provide me with a new copy of Bluebeam, for which I am extremely grateful.
Since I’m in the middle of working on way too many state tax returns, and don’t have the time to continue on my tax tips at the moment, I thought I’d throw together a couple of Bluebeam tips (using version 12). While they are specifically for tax returns, I’m sure all of them can be used with other documents.
Let’s start out with the feature I use the most: changing text.
Most state tax returns are straight forward, adjusting a few numbers from the Federal return and calling it good. Other state tax returns were crafted in the bowels of hell by power hungry sadists. One of the latter returns is Pennsylvania. I’ve just printed the return to PDF from OneSource and have the return opened in Bluebeam.
While reading the filing instructions, I notice a couple errors. Since OneSource doesn’t trust their users, they no longer allow changes to the filing instructions in the software, so I’ll have to make the edits in Bluebeam.
Edit 1: Adding the company name to the top of the document
I’m working with multiple companies, and I want to make sure whoever processes the return doesn’t apply the wrong instructions to the wrong company. So I’m going to add the company name to the top of the instructions. This can be added either using the text box or the typewriter feature.
The only difference between these two options is that the text box allows you more font editing features up front, whereas the typewriter chooses a font by default.
I personally prefer the typewriter feature. To add the text, all you do is press the typewriter button (or use the W hotkey), click where you want to type, and then start typing:
If, after you’ve put the text down you don’t like the font, simply open up the side editing panel, click the gear box, and change the appearances:
And that’s it. You have the text at the top of your document.
Edit 2: Changing printed text
The next feature is both awesome and dangerous. If the text printed to PDF isn’t correct, you can actually change the text in Bluebeam. It doesn’t work perfectly, which I believe is due to Bluebeam not always getting the font right, so you have to be careful using the feature. And I’ve seen people try to use it for evil, like changing the actual tax return document (had it ever made it to the state, the state would certainly not be happy). But it’s a nice feature when you have a typo or two.
To make this change, click on Edit->Content->Edit Text. You can then click on any text and edit it.
Note that this will not work scanned documents. Only text created through software, like Word or, in my case OneSource.
In my example, the address was slightly off, so I went ahead and changed it:
Edit 3: Whiting out information
Since the world isn’t perfect, sometimes the edits above don’t work, especially edit 2. For example, when I tried to change the date on this form, I got an error message and jumbled results. That happens surprisingly often. So let’s say I want to change the date, but the Text Editor isn’t working. What do you do? This is, by far, my favorite feature of Bluebeam. You just white it out.
The process is pretty simple, but it took us a while to figure it out. All you need to do is create a white shape and put it over the text. Then you’re free to use the feature in Edit 1 to type whatever you want.
I prefer the rectangle. So I click on the rectangle, set the box where I want.
If you use the standard rectangle, it’ll start as a nice red box around what you want to change. Just like with the text above, though, you can change this in the editing tab:
If you look over on the right, you’ll see that I changed both the Color and Fill Color to white, covering up my text. Now I can put whatever month I want over the original “September.”
(Important note: changing the PDF document does not change the actual due date. Just in case you hadn’t figure that out.)
Making in permanent
One problem I’ve had when working with Bluebeam is that not all the changes show up in Acrobat, which my coworkers are still forced to use. A couple times I’ve sent my masterpiece over only to receive complaints back that it looks wrong. If, however, you make the changes permanent, it will be embedded in the document, and everyone will see the same product.
To do this, select the edit you’ve made, right click, and press “Flatten.”
Once you do this, remember that you will not be able to change your work.
And that’s it. My document is perfect, and ready to be sent off to processing.
If you’ve liked this tip, I’ll be adding some more in the future. If you had any of your own, feel free to share below.