iText pdf library
Website search

How to move the content inside a rectangle inside an existing PDF?

My goal is to move text in a PDF around, which is within a certain rectangular area. All content matching the area in the original PDF should be shifted somewhat in the x and y direction. I have no influence on how the PDFs are created and I can accept a solution that only vaguely works.

Posted on StackOverflow on Feb 6, 2015 by tom_ink

Suppose that you have a PDF document like this:

Original PDF

Original PDF

I also have the coordinates of a rectangle: new Rectangle(100, 500, 100, 100); and an offset: move everything in that rectangle 10 points to the left and 2 points to the bottom, like this:

Manipulated PDF

Manipulated PDF

That is fairly easy to achieve. Take a look at the CutAndPaste example adapted for iText 7:

public void manipulatePdf(String src, String dest) throws IOException {

    Rectangle toMove = new Rectangle(100, 500, 100, 100);

    PdfDocument srcDoc = new PdfDocument(new PdfReader(src));
    Rectangle pageSize = srcDoc.getFirstPage().getPageSize();

    PdfDocument pdfDoc = new PdfDocument(new PdfWriter(dest));
    pdfDoc.setDefaultPageSize(new PageSize(pageSize));

    PdfFormXObject t_canvas1 = new PdfFormXObject(pageSize);
    PdfCanvas canvas1 = new PdfCanvas(t_canvas1, pdfDoc);

    PdfFormXObject pageXObject = srcDoc.getFirstPage().copyAsFormXObject(pdfDoc);

    canvas1.rectangle(0, 0, pageSize.getWidth(), pageSize.getHeight());
    canvas1.rectangle(toMove.getLeft(), toMove.getBottom(),
            toMove.getWidth(), toMove.getHeight());
    canvas1.addXObject(pageXObject, 0, 0);

    PdfFormXObject t_canvas2 = new PdfFormXObject(pageSize);
    PdfCanvas canvas2 = new PdfCanvas(t_canvas2, pdfDoc);
    canvas2.rectangle(toMove.getLeft(), toMove.getBottom(),
            toMove.getWidth(), toMove.getHeight());
    canvas2.addXObject(pageXObject, 0, 0);

    PdfCanvas canvas = new PdfCanvas(pdfDoc.getFirstPage());
    canvas.addXObject(t_canvas1, 0, 0);
    canvas.addXObject(t_canvas2, -20, -2);


Take into account that PdfImportedPage, PdfContentByte and PdfTemplate classes don’t exist in iText 7. We use PdfFormXObject and PdfCanvas now. As you see in the code above, t_canvas1 contains the whole first page, but with the clipped rectangle area; t_canvas2 is that clipped area and we add it to the main canvas with an offset -20, -2 to make the resulting PDF more demonstrative.

Click this link if you want to see how to answer this question in iText 5.


Still have questions? 

We're happy to answer your questions. Reach out to us and we'll get back to you shortly.

Contact us
Stay updated

Join 11,000+ subscribers and become an iText PDF expert by staying up to date with our new products, updates, tips, technical solutions and happenings.

Subscribe Now