converting pdf table to excel

Posted on 2014-08-30
Last Modified: 2014-09-02
which tools may help me convert a pdf which contains information formatted as tables to excel format?
would this tool be considered 100% reliable without the risk of erasing some empty colums or moving the content to a row or column that do not match the original pdf information?
My pdf files contains tables which columns have titles but not all the columns have information, in some cases column A,B and D contains information but column C only contains the column header.

best regards
smile be brave
Question by:smilebebrave
    LVL 51

    Assisted Solution

    by:Joe Winograd, EE MVE
    For PDF to Excel, I've had excellent results with this free online tool:

    It does a good (but not perfect) job of maintaining the formatting, which is always the trick with any PDF to Excel (or Word) conversion. I don't know if it will work well on your particular PDFs, but it's worth a (free!) shot. If you do like it and would prefer a local install rather than the online tool, it is available for purchase and download (and it has a 7-day free trial):

    Another product worth trying is A-PDF to Excel:

    It's not free, but is reasonably priced at $39 USD, and it offers a free trial so you can see if it works on your PDFs before buying it.
    would this tool be considered 100% reliable...
    The answer is NO. I'm not aware of any PDF to Excel (or Word) conversion tool that is 100% reliable — and I've tried lots of them. Some are very good, but not perfect. After doing the conversion, you'll need to open the spreadsheet in Excel and fix the conversion errors. Regards, Joe
    LVL 44

    Assisted Solution

    You might also use a utility like pdftotext to extract a formatted version of the PDF tables and then import them.  You might also try a different output format to see if it is easier to parse or import into Excel.
    LVL 44

    Expert Comment

    What software languages do you use or are already installed?
    LVL 51

    Accepted Solution

    That's an interesting suggestion by aikimark, but I think you'll find that pdftotext won't maintain the spreadsheet layout as well as you would want. However, if you'd like to try it, here's a 5-minute EE video Micro Tutorial that explains how to download and install the Xpdf library:

    And here's another 5-minute EE video Micro Tutorial that specifically discusses and demonstrates pdftotext:

    And here's an article that shows how to use the command line call with the -layout option, which is what you'll want to try:

    Although the -layout option tells pdftotext to maintain, as much as possible, the original physical layout of the text, I doubt that it's going to do what you want. I think you'll be better off with the other options I mentioned, but it can't hurt to try pdftotext — and it's free (for personal use). Regards, Joe
    LVL 44

    Expert Comment

    Thanks, Joe.

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