Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, and 2016. If you are using an earlier version (Excel 2003 or earlier), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for earlier versions of Excel, click here: Converting PDF to Excel.

Converting PDF to Excel

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated August 26, 2017)

Randy receives a monthly PDF document of about 30 pages that has been scanned from hard copy. This file contains hundreds of names and address of new utility connections for the prior month. He cannot figure out how to convert this document into an Excel worksheet so he can sort according to his needs. He is currently printing and re-scanning the document into an RTF file then converting it to a text file, but this takes hours.

There are several ways you can get Excel data from a PDF file. If you happen to have one of the very latest versions of Adobe Acrobat (such as Adobe Acrobat Pro DC), you can actually export from the PDF file into Excel format. (Just click Tools | Recognize Text | Save As | Spreadsheet | Microsoft Excel Workbook.) Other PDF readers—and there are many of them on the market—can also export into Excel format or directly into a format Excel can read.

There are also a multitude of data conversion programs on the market that allow you to open PDF files and save them in a variety of formats. Here, in no particular order, are a few suggested by ExcelTips readers. (Some have a cost attached; others are free. Check them out to see which ones fit your needs the best.)

http://www.nuance.com/for-individuals/by-product/omnipage/
http://www.nuance.com/for-individuals/by-product/pdf/
http://www.a-pdf.com/text/
http://www.a-pdf.com/to-excel/
http://www.investintech.com/
http://www.cogniview.com/
http://www.cometdocs.com/
http://www.pdftoexcelonline.com/
http://www.datawatch.com/our-platform/monarch/
http://pdftransformer.abbyy.com/

All of the above (concerning exporting to Excel) also works if you want to export to Word instead. Why would you want to do this? Because putting the file into Word may make editing and getting rid of extraneous characters easier. Once any cleanup is done, you can then copy from the Word document and paste into an Excel worksheet.

Of course, any time you use a program (including Acrobat) to do a conversion to a different format, you'll want to make sure that you double check what is created by the program. It is very possible for programs to misread something in the PDF file, which could result in data errors.

A better long-term solution is to talk to whoever provides you with your original PDF document. If someone is taking the time to create the PDF document, chances are they are starting with their data in some other format. If you can have them convert directly to an Excel workbook or to a CSV format, then you could easily import directly into Excel and bypass PDF entirely. The reason why this is the best long-term solution is that it is the least work for you and also the least error-prone solution.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (11648) applies to Microsoft Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, and 2016. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Excel here: Converting PDF to Excel.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He  is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...

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