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PDF software choices

New options - and costs - for PDF creation and editing

Historically, the university has provided Adobe Acrobat Professional to employees at no charge to any employee who wanted it.

Because of large Adobe price increases, this is changing.

Starting in FY23, there will be a $60-$70 recurring charge for the use of any Adobe Creative Cloud product, including Acrobat Professional. 

Fortunately, there are supported alternatives.

Acrobat Reader

Acrobat Reader is free and will meet most people’s needs (see feature comparison chart below)

Foxit PDF Editor

The university supports the popular Foxit PDF Editor as a lower cost alternative for Windows and Macs. The final price isn’t settled but it will be between $10-$25 per year.

For those who need a full PDF editor, Sciences IT recommends Foxit PDF Editor. It produces files identical in format to PDFs created with Acrobat Professional.

An in-depth comparison of the features of Adobe Acrobat Professional and Foxit PDF Editor can be found here.

A 14-day trial version of Foxit PDF Editor is available for university employees. Please contact and we can assist you in trying out this software before you make your final decision.

Acrobat Professional

To get access to Adobe Acrobat Professional, you must purchase an Adobe Creative Cloud license at a cost of $60-$70 per year annually in FY23, FY24 and FY25. Once you commit to an Adobe Creative Cloud license, you cannot drop it, although it can be reassigned to another employee.

Adobe Reader vs. Foxit Editor vs. Acrobat Professional

Feature Comparison Chart

Acrobat Reader(free)Foxit PDF Editor ($10 to $25 per year)Acrobat Pro
($60-$70 per year)
Fill out and save form ✅✅✅
Edit the PDF itself❌✅✅
Save as PDF and upload to DocuSign for eSignature✅✅✅
DocuSign integration from within the  application itself❌✅✅
Feature comparison between supported PDF software options

Form Publisher for Google Workspace

Not a PDF editor exactly, but…

NC State University provides Form Publisher in our Google Workspace domain at no charge. This powerful add-on lets you take data from Google Forms or Google Sheets and automatically create custom PDF, Google Docs, and Microsoft Office documents.

You can create automated workflows including notifications, document sharing, naming conventions, and more.

Who pays for PDF software in the College of Sciences?

First, check to see whether the free options can meet your needs.

If you need Adobe or Foxit, check with your departmental business officer about your department’s policies and procedures.

This software is not provided or subsidized at the college level.

Who is eligible for Adobe Creative Cloud licenses?

You must be a full-time faculty or staff member to request a license. Creative Cloud may be used on shared devices in research labs at a similar cost per computer (rather than per user.)


For technical questions, to request a Foxit trial version, or to request software installation, please contact Sciences IT at

Fo questions related to purchasing a license, please contact your departmental business officer.