We test and rate the six best PDF editors for 2016, including tools from Adobe, Foxit, Nuance, Nitro and more. (See all PDF editor reviews.)

PDF (Portable Document Format) is rightly popular as a cross-platform means of exchanging documents, allowing those documents to be read on any type of system, irrespective of the operating system and application software that was used to originate it. So, for example, it would permit a document created using OpenOffice under Mac OS X to be read on a Windows PC without the need to install OpenOffice. Also see: How to edit PDFs for free.

We put six PDF editors through their paces and present our findings here. In addition to allowing you to create PDF documents, these packages let you edit your PDF files without the laborious process of editing the original source file in its native format and re-converting it to PDF. In addition, most of them also provide advanced features such as form creation, digital signature and ID certification, and collaborative review and commenting, that you generally don’t get with free PDF packages. We also take a look at one free package to see just how much you can get without spending a penny.

If you don't want to install any software, you can edit up to three PDFs online using PDF Pro for free.

See all reviews of PDF editing software. Or click here to buy the best Nuance PDF-editing products.

Read next: How to convert a PDF to Word.

6 best PDF editors and free PDF editors 2016 UK

6. Tracker PDF XChange Pro

Tracker PDF XChange Pro
  • Rating: ratingsratingsratingsratingsratings
  • Reviewed on: 10 February 15
  • RRP: $79.50 (approx £52)

Costing significantly less than virtually all other business-oriented PDF editors, yet providing the functionality you’d expect, Tracker PDF XChange Pro is well worth trying out (there's a trial option on the website). The down-side is that some of the functions you’d expect to find in the main package are in separate utilities but this is only a minor inconvenience, given the price.

Read our Tracker PDF XChange Pro review.

5. AbleWord

  • Rating: ratingsratingsratingsratingsratings
  • Reviewed on: 25 February 15
  • RRP: Free

Although primarily a word processor, the fact that the free AbleWord can read and write PDF files means that its more than capable of acting as a PDF editor, thereby suggesting comparison with some seriously expensive competition. While the professional aspects of professional PDF editors are missing, for simply editing PDF documents, AbleWord is perfectly capable.

Read our AbleWord review.

4. Adobe Acrobat XI Pro

Adobe Acrobat XI Pro
  • Rating: ratingsratingsratingsratingsratings
  • Reviewed on: 30 January 15
  • RRP: £453 inc VAT (Upgrade from £194)

Adobe Acrobat XI Pro is a fully featured PDF editor, but unless you really need its features (or you can get it for education prices) then it's hard to justify the expense when other PDF editors do a lot of what Acrobat can do for a considerably smaller outlay.

Read our Adobe Acrobat XI Pro review.

3. Foxit PhantomPDF Business 7

Foxit PhantomPDF Business 7
  • Rating: ratingsratingsratingsratingsratings
  • Reviewed on: 25 February 15
  • RRP: $129 (£83)

Foxit PhantomPDF Business 7 provides the level of functionality that the professional user has come to expect at a keen price. The user interface is modern and easy to use, and Foxit provides no shortage of tutorial videos and easy access to support options to get you up to speed in record time.

Read our Foxit PhantomPDF Business 7 review.

2. Nuance Power PDF Advanced

Nuance Power PDF Advanced
  • Rating: ratingsratingsratingsratingsratings
  • Reviewed on: 4 February 15
  • RRP: £139.99 inc VAT

In many ways, Nuance Power PDF Advanced matches Acrobat Pro feature-for-feature, while offering useful extras like a more flexible search and a more familiar business interface. When you add in the fact that it's much cheaper than Adobe's offering, it has to be a contender for anybody seeking a PDF tool primarily for archival and group work.

Read our Nuance Power PDF Advanced review.

1. Nitro Pro 9

Nitro Pro 9
  • Rating: ratingsratingsratingsratingsratings
  • Reviewed on: 30 January 15
  • RRP: £113 inc VAT

In buying Nitro Pro 9 you have to accept that there are features missing compared to Adobe Acrobat XI Pro but we’d be surprised if these would be an issue for the majority of people. This is a fully featured PDF editor that's very easy to use and represents excellent value for money.

Read our Nitro Pro 9 review.