Skip to main content

PDF software choices

Options - and costs - for PDF creation and editing

Adobe Creative Cloud (Acrobat Pro)

People who are preparing documents for publication or for funding agencies should purchase Adobe Creative Cloud. Faculty have reported that FoxIt is not an adequate substitute.

Adobe Acrobat Pro is now part of Adobe Creative Cloud. The license cost is approximately $70 annually and cannot be dropped. It requires a commitment to pay annually through 2028. If desired, the license can be assigned to another employee by emailing the request to

Acrobat Reader

Acrobat Reader is free and will meet most people’s needs (see feature comparison chart below.) You can fill out forms but cannot create them.

Google and Microsoft Apps

You can create PDF documents from your Google and Microsoft apps by exporting or saving them as PDFs.

Foxit PDF Editor

The university supports the popular Foxit PDF Editor as a lower cost alternative for Windows and Macs. The cost is $10 per year.

For most people who need a full PDF editor, Foxit PDF Editor is a great option.

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

Adobe Reader vs. Foxit Editor vs. Acrobat Pro

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

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