How to convert PDF table to Excel quickly and cost-effectively

The versatility and flexibility of PDF have made it the de facto official file format for document sharing and collaboration. However, converting data from PDF table to Excel can present a challenge.

In this blog post, we’ll focus on how you can export data from PDFs into spreadsheet programs like MS Excel.

convert PDF table to Excel

Data capture from long documents with big tables

Processing long tables with many rows might be challenging and time-consuming. Here we summed up some useful tips on how to convert PDF table to Excel efficiently.

Convert PDF table to Excel

The humble PDF has become one of the most popular formats in the world for sharing documents. In business, it has become one of the most commonly used ways to share important documents back and forth. PDF stands for Portable Document Format and was designed by Adobe over 20 years ago as a way for users on different operating systems to share files. 

Before the PDF, documents had to be converted into other formats before users could access them. For example, a file created on a Microsoft PC was often not accessible by a user on a Mac. The PDF was designed as a highly cross-functional platform for sharing and viewing documents. For viewing PDF data files, they created the free Adobe Reader program, which was compatible with a variety of operating systems. 

They have also provided the Adobe Acrobat program for editing and creating PDF documents. Adobe Acrobat is not free and comes in two versions from the Adobe website: Standard and Pro. As with other Adobe programs, Acrobat is now offered on a subscription basis for around $13 and $20 per month for each version, respectively.

Unfortunately, there are limitations to the PDF format. Although it has made sharing and viewing documents easier, the PDF format is not readily editable. Furthermore, its fundamental design approaches documents more like images than text files. This means that the text data within those documents is not structured in a way that other software can understand. 

For example, when an invoice arrives in accounts payable, it often arrives in PDF format. The price, date, quantity, and other information are critical to the business and must be entered into an accounts payable system. However, most AP software solutions do not accept PDF formatted files. 

That’s why so many users are interested in finding an online PDF to Excel converter. Excel spreadsheets make editing and formatting tables much more straightforward. Furthermore, many SAP and AP software solutions accept Excel files as inputs for data processing and recording. 

There are a number of ways to convert PDF tables to Excel, from simply copying and pasting to more advanced methods such as special applications powered by artificial intelligence. Here, we cover how to convert PDF to Excel offline and where to find the best PDF to Excel converter online.

PDF to Excel OCR

Many businesses rely on manual data entry for accomplishing tasks like converting PDF files to Excel spreadsheets. In this process, employees have to manually type or copy and paste the information from PDF files into forms and tables created in Excel. This is a time-consuming workflow that can limit your organization’s scalability. As the paperwork starts piling up on your employees’ desks, morale can also be negatively impacted. 

A better approach is to take advantage of PDF to Excel OCR software. OCR stands for optical character recognition technology and enables you to convert characters in documents into structured digital data. 

Organizations have used OCR technology for years as a way to convert both physical documents and digital PDF files into data that can be analyzed and managed by other software solutions. There are many different applications that you can invest in that will allow you to convert PDF to Excel online and offline. Ultimately, PDF to Excel converter software can be divided into two categories: template-based OCR and cognitive OCR

Template-based OCR is the traditional method and relies on carefully designed templates that guide the program as it scans for text. Unfortunately, this OCR is not very accurate when applied to the wide variety of business documents in circulation and is expensive to maintain. Experts are required to update the templates frequently. 

By contrast, cognitive OCR relies on advances in artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to not only extract data but also understand it. When the program understands the data it’s extracting, it can check for errors and complete the conversion with more accuracy than ever before. 

Some AI-powered OCR software, such as Rossum, comes pre-trained to understand hundreds of different document formats and stylings. Furthermore, its machine learning capabilities enable it to learn how to interpret different PDF/table formats over time, dramatically reducing maintenance costs. 

Convert PDF table to Excel online

If you’re seeking a solution that enables you to convert PDF table to Excel online, there are many cloud-based platforms on the market that can accomplish this goal. Indeed, there are a number of free tools available (or tools that offer a free trial) that you can take advantage of. For example, the I Love PDF to Excel converter provides this kind of functionality. 

The primary benefit of using an online tool is that you and your employees can access the tool to continue converting documents, whether you are working from the office or remotely. A cloud-based solution is also more scalable, meaning that you don’t need to keep downloading it as your business grows and adds new employees. 

Unfortunately, many of these programs are not very accurate and require a lot of correction later on in Excel. For a business, this increases the time and cost it takes to process each document. For example, some programs will output a table with merged cells and blank columns. If you’re wondering how to convert PDF to Excel without merged cells, the best method is to rely on a cloud-based solution like Rossum. 

Convert PDF to Excel

If you’re thinking, can I convert PDF to Excel? The answer is yes, you can, with the right tools. It is possible to do this conversion manually, as we explore below. However, the fastest way is to find a PDF to Excel converter online

High-quality software that’s designed to convert PDF to Excel spreadsheets relies on optical character recognition software technology. OCR works by scanning documents and then identifying text characters based on the color differences of the pixels that represent the text versus the background color. 

Cognitive OCR can then automatically correct the text that’s extracted to ensure that it actually makes sense within the context of the document. Rossum “reads” documents much like a human would. Its AI engine is based on the way humans tend to quickly skim through documents to get context and identify the locations of vital information. Then, it can extract that data and easily export it to an Excel format. 

How to convert PDF to Excel without software

If you’re curious about how to convert PDF to Excel without software, this is possible using the copy-and-paste function. However, you can only copy a single table with limited rows and columns. This makes it difficult for documents with larger tables. This is the same method you can use when it comes to how to convert PDF to Excel without software on Mac

Instead of relying on copy-and-paste, you could also create a similar table in a new Excel spreadsheet and then type the data into the appropriate cells. This is often what data entry employees are highly skilled at doing. 

Instead of using manual data entry, a PDF to Excel converter online can extract data far faster and more accurately. For example, with Rossum, you can upload hundreds of documents at once and rapidly convert them into Excel spreadsheet documents with just a few clicks. 

How to convert PDF to Excel without losing formatting

Unfortunately, automated data capture solutions often struggle to accurately convert the formatting associated with tables. Cells, rows, and columns often wind up skewed or entirely missing from the end result.  If you’re wondering how to convert PDF to Excel without losing formatting, the best option is to utilize an intelligent document processing (IDP) solution such as Rossum. 

If you truly want to convert PDF to Excel without losing formatting, Adobe Pro is not enough. You’ll also need a solution that can complete the conversion effectively. Rossum has a feature called the Magic Grid that is specifically designed to accomplish this. 

Rossum especially excels at converting complicated nested tables and line items. With our platform, you can convert these into structured spreadsheets or can automatically export them into your company’s desired system. When it comes to the question of how to convert PDF image to Excel, an intelligent document processing solution is the best option. 

PDF to Excel converter

Although the PDF has been revolutionary for its ability to facilitate the sharing of documents, it is not a perfect solution to document management issues. Thousands of lifetimes all over the world are spent manually typing pre-existing data into spreadsheets and company software. 

Any business or department that manages documents, including accounts receivable, accounts payable, and claims processing, can be made more efficient with a converter software like Rossum

Finding a PDF to Excel converter is fairly easy as there are many options available in the market. However, finding a high-quality, accurate conversion program is not always simple or straightforward. If you are unable to convert PDF to Excel manually, relying on a converter can enable you to be more scalable and efficient. 

This is especially true if you are trying to convert multi-page PDF table to Excel spreadsheets or attempting to scan image-based PDF to Excel. These kinds of tasks require a robust platform with a variety of features. Rossum is a great example of a solution like this. Furthermore, our platform also offers an easy-to-use API so that you can build out your own custom solutions to suit your specific needs. 

Convert PDF table to Excel in minutes

Eliminate the hassle of creating new templates for each new table layout that’s new to your workflow. Process thousands of line items in minutes with the Rossum AI data capture technology.