I have a .pdf document that is laid out in columns. I have tried exporting to plain text, saving as a .doc file, and copy/paste-ing highlighted text. In each case, the text comes out tangled. That is, it reads a line across all three columns. So the text from the three columns is tangled together and very tedious to separate and paste back into the correct order.
I extract alot of text from .pdfs but have not run into this issue before. Is there a way to fix it?
It used to be possible to select text in columns. I am unsure that feature is still available. Without the pdf file being created with the proper tagging information from its creator application, I'm afraid you are in for a lot of pain. The only thing that might help is to repeated crop the columns the different columns on the page and copy from the cropped pages.
For selecting text from column, you can use select tool in column select mode. For this, go to Tools> Select & Zoom > Select Tool. Thereafter, press Alt button and drag to select the desired column. Pressing the Alt button with Select Tool activates its Column Select Mode.