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How to Copy or Import Table From PDF to Excel: Step-by-Step Guide

January 8, 2022
Author
Inkit Team

So, you want to copy a table from PDF to Excel. Ideally, without messing up the whole formatting of the document.

If you’ve copied content from a PDF file to Google Docs, Word, or even Excel, you know what we mean.

It’s easy for the whole layout to break when you’re working with importing content across different file formats.

The PDF (Portable Document Format) is a document exchange and storage program. 

MS Excel, meanwhile, is a data analysis spreadsheet program that helps you calculate and organize data in an easy to manipulate format. 

As such, copying files between the two forums might distort your table or affect certain aspects, like the display and workability of your data.

In this article, we’ll show you how to transfer and important a table from a PDF file to excel, without messing up the formatting or workability of your data.

  • How Is a PDF Table Different From An Excel table?
  • Tables In PDFs and Excel Overview
  • How To Copy a Table From PDF to Excel by Importing?
  • How to Copy a Table From PDF to Excel by Converting the File?
  • How to Copy a Table From PDF to Excel Using A Conversion Program?
  • What Are the Best Conversion Programs to Copy A Table From PDF to Excel?

How Is a PDF Table Different From An Excel table?

You’d think copying a table from a PDF to excel would be straightforward, but that’s not always the case.

The PDF format is a storage and document exchange program, while Excel is a spreadsheet program. The PDF format does not have a table creation component like Excel or other document tabulation programs.

In PDF format, tables are created with straight lines and backgrounds that are colored to separate the data. In Excel, tables are created using cells separated by rows and columns to separate the data.

Since PDF tables are drawn as images, the format recognizes them as shapes

In Excel, tables are predefined templates, and the program recognizes and interprets any input data in a tabular form. Meaning, you’re dealing with editable content in Excel.

A table in a PDF document tabulates data for communication and storage in a non-editable format for secure sharing. 

Tables In PDFs and Excel Overview 

A table is a graphical representation or arrangement of information in a structure of rows and columns that help you organize your data easily for communication or analysis by yourself or others.

Tables are a common feature of many documents and can be created using a document processing program of choice, depending on your communication needs. 

They are set up with columns with a description header and rows that carry the data indicated on the header.

Tables help break down information and convey it in an easy-to-understand format.

Now, let’s take a look at how to copy or transfer them across different file formats. 

How To Copy a Table From PDF to Excel by Importing?

To make things easy, Excel offers you a unique importing feature that allows you to extract the specific table you need to import from a PDF file in your device, from the web, or any other location you might have stored your PDF file.

To copy a table from PDF to Excel by importing, you need to:

  1. Open a new comment in MS Excel.
  2. On the toolbar on top of your new document, click on the Data menu.
  3. From the Data menu, select the Get External Data option.
  4. On the left side of your screen, choose to import a table in From File, From Access, and From Web options provided.
  5. This option displays the PDF documents on your device. Select the PDF document you’d like to import your file from.
  6. Select the PDF file you wish to import the table from, and Excel automatically identifies all the tables in the PDF file.
  7. Select the table you want to copy to Excel.
  8. Once the selected table appears on the Excel worksheet, click on Transform Data to clean the data.
  9. To complete copying the PDF table to Excel, click on the Load option.
  10. You can now edit the table as you wish.

How to Copy a Table From PDF to Excel by Converting the File?

You can choose to copy a table from PDF to excel by first converting it using Word as an intermediary application. The process of converting the PDF file to Word format allows you to access the table in the file and copy and paste it to Excel in an easy to edit format. 

To convert the PDF file to Word format:

  1. Open the PDF file you wish to copy a table from.
  2. Select the table you wish to copy and press CTRL+C on a Windows device or COMMAND+C on Mac.
  3. Open the Word program on your device and click on Open New document.
  4. Press CTRL+V or COMMAND+V to copy the selected table on the new Word document.

The data in the table you copied appears on your screen, without grids and columns as the PDF file. 

As such, you will need to tabulate this data by following these steps now:

  1. Highlight the data in your Word document by pressing Command+A or CTRL+A on your Mac or Windows device, respectively.
  2. On the options that appear on your screen, select the Table option.
  3. Click on the Convert option.
  4. Now select the Text to Table option.
  5. On the new dialogue box that appears on your screen, click on Separate text, then select the Other option.
  6. Next to the Other option, delete the text therein and type a Space in the little box.
  7. Now press OK.

At this stage, an imperfectly formatted table with the data on your original PDF file should appear in a Word format table on your screen. 


Highlight this table and press CTRL+C or Command+C to now copy it to Excel following these steps:

  1. Open the Excel program on your device.
  2. Open a Blank document.
  3. Highlight the first cell on your new Excel document.
  4. Click on this first cell and press CTRL+V or Command+V to paste the table from Word document to Excel format.
  5. The file will now be tabulated in Excel as follows:

How to Copy a Table From PDF to Excel Using A Conversion Program?

You can use a converting program to copy a table from PDF to Excel. Most PDF converter programs can extract or copy tables from native PDF files and PDF files originally made from scanning documents.


Most converter programs come with a unique inbuilt feature called OCR or Optical Character Recognition. This feature automates data extraction from your printed or scanned file, then converts it to a machine-readable format, allowing you to copy it to Excel for editing.

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What Are the Best Conversion Programs to Copy A Table From PDF to Excel?

Many conversion tools can help you copy a table from PDF to Excel fast while keeping your formatting intact. Your choice depends on the ease of use, compatibility with your computing device, and the cost of the selected program.

Here are some tools you can use to convert or copy tables from PDF to Excel:

  • Adobe Acrobat.
  • PDF to XLS Converter App.
  • Able2Extract Professional.

Now, let’s take a look at a detailed overview and their pros and cons.

Adobe Acrobat

Adobe Acrobat allows you to extract a table from PDF to Excel in a quick and automated process while keeping the original layout of the file. 

Pros:

  • Adobe Acrobat allows you to select the specific table you wish to copy from PDF to Excel.
  • It keeps the original layout, including columns and other table layouts, intact.
  • An OCR feature extracts data from PDF scans and copies it to Excel.
  • It copies the tables quickly while allowing you to work from anywhere, online or offline.
  • Adobe Acrobat supports encrypted files.
  • It is compatible with both Windows and Macintosh operating systems.

Cons:

  • The high cost of purchase makes it inaccessible for many users. Adobe Acrobat is free for 7 days and then can cost up to $155.88 per year, billed annually.

PDF to XLS Converter App

This Android-based app can help you copy a table from PDF to XLS on any Android device without distorting the original format.

Pros:

  • PDF to XLS Converter App allows you to copy tables from PDF to Excel on the go.
  • It comes with an inbuilt OCR feature that automatically reads scanned PDF documents and extracts tables to Excel.
  • It is available free of charge on any Android device.

Cons:

  • Like many other free apps, the PDF to XLS has many ads running in it while you work on it.

Able2Extract Professional

This conversion program is AI-backed, allowing you to accurately copy a table from PDF to Excel fast without losing the original formatting.


Pros:

  • This converter can copy cell borders and the overall formatting of a PDF table into an Excel file.
  • It allows you to select the specific data or table you wish to copy from PDF to Excel.
  • It comes with an OCR feature that automatically reads the table on a PDF file and copies it to Excel quickly.
  • It allows you to customize your data as you wish.
  • It is supported by both Windows and Macintosh operating systems.

Cons:

  • Able2Extract can only support a few OCR languages.
  • It does not read some OCR fonts well.

Conclusion

To sum up, copying data in a table from PDF to Excel should not be a time-consuming or expensive task as there are ways to work around the available programs to achieve this quickly. 

Depending on the type of PDF document you wish to copy a table from, you can choose if to import the table, convert it to a format that allows for copy and pasting like Word, or invest in a program that allows for automatic conversion of the PDF table to Excel format.

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