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How to Easily Extract a Table From a PDF

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If you’ve got a table in a PDF file and want to use it elsewhere, you don’t have to recreate it manually. Technology is here to make life easier, as there are many tools you could use for extracting tables from a PDF file.

With these tools, you can import the tables in a PDF file into your spreadsheets and use the data they contain for further analysis. Copying and pasting a table from a PDF file into a spreadsheet won’t work. So in this article, we’re going to go through some of the best methods to achieve this.

1. Microsoft Excel

Excel is perhaps the most prestigious app when it comes to spreadsheets and tables. Sure enough, Excel comes packed with data importation features. One of these features is getting data from PDF files.

If you intend to use the extracted table in Excel, then you’ve hit the jackpot, as Excel has this feature built into it. You can also extract the tables from PDF files to Excel, and then import the Excel spreadsheet to Google Sheets. Here’s how you can extract tables from a PDF file using Excel:

  1. Open your Excel spreadsheet.
  2. Go to the Data tab.
  3. In the Get & Transform section, click on Get Data.
  4. From the list, select From File and then select From PDF. This will open a new window where you have to select the PDF file.
  5. Select the PDF file you want to extract tables from.
  6. Click Open.

Once you click Open, a navigator window will open in Excel. In this window, you’ll see the different tables that the PDF file contains.

  1. Select the table that you want to import.
  2. Click on Load.

Excel will now import the table from the PDF file into your spreadsheet. A perk of extracting tables from PDF using Excel is that the data will already be formatted as Excel tables with headers. You can go on and sort or filter the data in Excel to display what you want, in the order you want.

2. Microsoft Power BI

Microsoft Power BI is an app from the Microsoft Power suite designed for business intelligence and data visualization. Power BI is as capable as Excel, if not more, when it comes to importing data.

You can extract tables from PDF files and import them directly into Power BI to visualize them. If you’re interested in learning more about Microsoft Power BI, read our article on what Power BI is and how it stands against Google Data Studio.

  1. Open Microsoft Power BI.
  2. Select Get data from the startup screen.
  3. In the Get Data window, search for PDF and select it.
  4. Select your PDF file and then click Open.
  5. In the Navigator window, check the tables that you want to import.
  6. Click Load.

Once Power BI processes the table, it will import it to your workspace as a field. You can switch to Data view to see the imported table. Just like Excel, the imported data will be formatted as a table with headers.

3. Adobe Acrobat DC

Adobe Acrobat DC is a powerful PDF reading and editing tool. Adobe Acrobat DC allows you to perform many basic and advanced operations on PDF files. With Acrobat DC, you can edit, sign, and encrypt PDF files, among much more. Acrobat DC also lets you export PDF files as Excel spreadsheets, which is what we’re interested in.

  1. Open Adobe Acrobat DC.
  2. Go to the Tools tab in the startup screen.
  3. In the Create & Edit section, click Open under Export PDF.
  4. Click Select a file on the left and then select your PDF file.
  5. Select Spreadsheet and then check Microsoft Excel Workbook. You can click the cog icon to input advanced settings such as deleting decimal separators, and recognizing text in different languages.
  6. Click Export.
  7. Select a destination directory for the Excel workbook.
  8. Input a name for your new file and then click Save.

By default, Adobe Acrobat DC will open the new file in Excel once the export is finished. The exported spreadsheet will house the data as plain text and numbers, and won’t be in table format. You can manually convert it into a table with a couple of clicks. Here’s how you can format your cells as a table in Excel:

  1. Select the range in Excel.
  2. In the Home tab, select Format as Table in the Styles section.
  3. Select a style for your table.
  4. In the new window, make sure My table has headers is checked.
  5. Click OK.

Now that your data is formatted as a table, you can sort and filter them to your liking. For instance, you can sort the data by date in Excel.

4. Online Converters

Ultimately, if you’re looking for a quick way to get the task done without having to use any installed programs, then you can use online converters.

There are many PDF to Excel file converters available online, including Adobe Acrobat Online. Using this online tool, you can convert your PDF file to an Excel file without having to install Adobe Acrobat or Microsoft Excel.

  1. Head to Adobe Acrobat’s PDF to Excel webpage.
  2. Click Select a file and then select your PDF file. Adobe Acrobat will instantly start converting your file.
  3. Once the process has finished, click Download to download the Excel file. You can also sign in to store your file in the Adobe Cloud service.

The result of this conversion will be identical to Adobe Acrobat DC. That means you’ll have to manually format the data as a table in Excel in order to filter and sort them.

PDF to Spreadsheet Made Easy

Data tables are crucial pieces of information in any form. Yet if you’ve got a data table in a PDF file, you can’t copy and paste it to spreadsheets as you would with ordinary text. However, that doesn’t mean that you have to recreate the table cell per cell.

There are a variety of methods you can use to extract tables from a PDF file and use them in your spreadsheets. You can use Excel and Power BI to extract and import tables from PDF into your spreadsheet as formatted tables.

Alternatively, you can also use Adobe Acrobat DC to export your PDF as an Excel workbook file. If none of these methods suit you, you can use an arsenal of online converters, including Adobe Acrobat Online, to make ends meet.

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