How to Fix Character Encoding in PDF | Weird Symbols Fixes

How to fix character encoding in PDF? This page explains what causes PDF file corruption and guides you to repair the PDF file that shows junk characters or PDF's weird symbols with the repair tool - EaseUS Fixo Document Repair.

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EaseUS Fixo


  • Fix videos with different issues, such as broken, unplayable, no sound, etc.
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  • Fix documents in various formats, including PDF, Word, Excel, and PowerPoint files.
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In this article, you'll learn:

  • What Is PDF Special Characters Problem [PDF Corruption]
  • How to Fix Character Encoding in PDF [5 Solutions]
  • FAQs About How to Fix Character Encoding in PDF Files

PDF is short for Portable Document Format, which includes printed documents encoded as an electronic image. However, many users seek remedies for PDF file corruption issues like garbled text problems. Like the question from the Adobe Support Community

Hello, I have a PDF document, and when I try to copy some text from the PDF and paste it into a Word doc or note pad it gives junk characters encoded instead of the copied text. I need help with how to get this fixed and copy the text. Please help me in this regard. I appreciate any help you can provide.

So, how to fix character encoding in PDF? This article will explain the overview of the PDF garbled text problem and offer 5 solutions for fixing the character encoding in PDF files.

What Is PDF Special Characters Problem [PDF Corruption]

The PDF file may become damaged with gibberish in any situation, whether during uploading, downloading, combining, or simply copying. Distorted PDF files may be caused by viruses and malicious software that is present on your computer. What's more, the PDF shows weird characters if it was opened with unsupported software.

Generally speaking, the character encoding in PDF problem has the following symptoms:

  • 🔣When converting the PDF to Word, normal letters turn to weird symbols.
  • 🌀When copying text from a PDF, it becomes gibberish.
  • 👎Characters in a text object cannot be mapped to Unicode.
  • ⏹️The PDF text turns into squares.
  • 🕶️PDF file is not readable or shows blank pages between garbled texts.

How to Fix Character Encoding in PDF [5 Solutions]

The character encodes prevent you from viewing the PDF file no matter how many times you open and close the PDF program. So what do we do now? Here are the 5 different methods.

  1. Solution 1. Check for Updates of PDF Viewers
  2. Solution 2. Repair Character Encoding in PDF with Software
  3. Solution 3. Repair Damaged PDF Files Online
  4. Solution 4. Reinstall PDF Readers
  5. Solution 5. Restore the Previous PDF File Version

Solution 1. Check for Updates of PDF Viewers

You should check for updates and open the PDF in the most recent version of the PDF app, as it is this version that is to blame for the garbled text issue. Here, you can first try to repair PDF file using Adobe Acrobat.

Step 1. On your PC, start Adobe Acrobat.

Step 2. Select "Check for Updates" under "Help".

Step 3. After downloading the most recent version, reopen the problematic PDF file to see if the odd characters disappear.

Check for Updates of PDF Viewers

Solution 2. Repair Character Encoding in PDF with Software

If the problem still exists after you update the PDF reader, you should consider that the PDF file itself is corrupted. In that case, you should resort to third-party software. The most usually suggested software by experts is EaseUS Fixo Document Repair.

This powerful program can efficiently repair PDF files and assist you in resolving character encoding in PDF issues. With the file repair tool, you may quickly find the safest answer to how to fix character encoding in PDF.

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  • Repair corrupted files from HDD, SSD, USB flash drive, external hard drive, etc
  • It supports all the current Windows OS from Windows XP to Windows 11 and macOS.
  • Not only PDFs: It can also repair corrupted excel files, Word documents, photos, and videos.

This file repair tool can easily fix your corrupted PDF file in the following steps.

Step 1. Download and launch Fixo on your PC or laptop. Choose "File Repair" to repair corrupted Office documents, including Word, Excel, PDF, and others. Click "Add Files" to select corrupted documents.

add files to repair documents with Fixo

Step 2. To repair multiple files at once, click the "Repair All" button. If you want to repair a single document, move your pointer to the target file and choose "Repair". You can also preview the documents by clicking the eye icon.

select documents to repair

Step 3. Click "Save" to save a selected document. Select "Save All" to save all the repaired files. Choose "View Repaired" to locate the repaired folder.

save repaired documents in Fixo

If you are interested in the file repair tool and this article, don't forget to mark this passage by sharing it on Facebook, Twitter, or SNS.


Solution 3. Repair Damaged PDF Files Online

5 online tools are suggested if you want to try to fix a corrupted PDF using free web-based methods. The finest tool to fix a corrupted PDF online for free has been determined after extensive testing of various options. The pdf-online websites below are all good choices if you only need to restore one or two PDF files with garbled character encoding problems.

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How to Repair PDF Files Online [Easy Guide]

This article is prepared for those users who need to repair damaged PDF files but don't know what to do. We list five popular and efficient online PDF repair tools for you to choose from.

Solution 4. Reinstall PDF Readers

If a PDF file has character encoding pages and your built-in tool, Adobe Reader, cannot open or read it for you, you can try another PDF reader to determine whether the problem lies with Reader or the file.

Another PDF reader

Although many programs provide the ability to repair installations within the application, you can still manually uninstall and reinstall the program in order to repair corrupted files. Reinstalling the program will eliminate all conflicts that led to the corruption and return all settings to their original defaults.

Here are the steps to reinstall Adobe Reader on Windows:

Step 1. Download the installation zip file from the website or app store to any place on your PC.

Step 2. Extract the zip file and open the Setup.exe file.

Step 3. For instance, if you extracted and copied the zip file to the "Adobe" folder on your desktop:

C:UsersDesktop/Adobe/Acrobat_2020_Web_WWMUIAdobe Acrobat/Setup.exe

Step 4. The Setup.exe file must be double-clicked to begin the installation.

Step 5. To finish the installation, adhere to the directions displayed on the screen.

⚠️Warning: Do not start the Setup.exe file from within the installer zip file to avoid installation issues.

Solution 5. Restore the Previous PDF File Version

Users of Windows can restore the previous version of the inaccessible PDF file using the built-in backup utility tool. Go ahead and do the following:

Step 1. To access "Update and Security", click "Windows" and choose "Settings".

Update and Security

Step 2. Restore the backup version to access your PDF file.

You can also attempt the File history tool to restore the earlier version of the file if you haven't created a backup.

Step 1. In Windows Explorer, select your file and then click "Properties."

Step 2. To restore, go to the previous versions tab.

previous versions tab

Step 3. Examine the PDF files' earlier iterations. To see if the most recent version is the one that will return your file to the system, click on it.

Recover a Previous Version of a Word Document on Mac

How to Recover a Previous Version of a Word Document on Mac

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PDF documents are thought to be safe and dependable. Nevertheless, depending on the circumstances, a corrupted file or a machine without the necessary tools could result in weird character encoding in PDF. Thus, you might apply one of the five methods mentioned in the article.

Among all the suggestions, the most secure and effective one is using EaseUS Fixo Document Repair. It is the ideal solution for non-technologists doing basic data restoration and advanced users delving further into complex data loss cases.

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FAQs About How to Fix Character Encoding in PDF Files

Here are 4 additional questions about how to fix character encoding in PDF. Check here for the answers.

1. When do I copy text from a PDF, why it becomes gibberish?

When pasting text from a pdf, you get gibberish; this suggests that the typeface is the cause of the problem. You get trash characters during copy and paste if the PDF fonts lack Unicode tables and do not translate the glyph indices to characters using a standard encoding.

2. How to fix PDF text turn into squares?

When your PDF text turns into squares, it means the PDF file needs repair. You can choose a PDF-repair online tool mentioned in Soltion 3 or try the EaseUS Fixo Document Repair desktop tool. With the help of these tools, you can repair corrupted and damaged PDF files.

3. What are the reasons behind the PDF file corruption?

A PDF file may be harmed if the hard drive, USB flash drive, or SD card malfunctions or fails suddenly. Various factors, such as overheating, electrical shorts, faulty connecting, or disconnecting, can bring on hard drive failure.

4. Why is my PDF printing with weird characters?

Fonts for the characters might not be embedded. The PDF creator may have used a non-standard font encoding. The impacted characters might not properly map to Unicode. Usually, this problem must be fixed in the authoring file again, and a new PDF must be created.

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author Jaden


Jaden is one of the editors of EaseUS, who focuses on topics concerning PCs and Mac data recovery. Jaden is committed to enhancing professional IT knowledge and writing abilities. She is always keen on new and intelligent products.

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