5 Tips For Converting PDF To Excel Files

The Portable Document Format (PDF) is a popular file-saving convention because it’s ‘non-editable,’ ensuring files preserve their format across multiple devices and viewing software. However, several situations necessitate converting documents from this immutable format to an editable one.

One popular conversion is from PDF to Excel, which is essential, especially for PDF files comprising tabulated data. Microsoft Excel is the de facto data storage and analysis tool, boasting over 750 million users. Its more recent alternative, Google Sheets, a part of Google’s G Suite, is likewise popular, with a user base of nearly 2 billion. With that in mind, below are handy tips you’d want up your sleeves the next time you convert PDF to Excel.

Get a robust converter.

The first step in converting PDF to Excel is getting a robust editor. Retyping data from a PDF document into a spreadsheet may only be feasible if the file is small. Anything more than one page will be too strenuous and time-consuming.

Another manual option is copy-pasting the data from the PDF file into the Excel sheet. It’s likewise arduous, plus you risk distorting the entries and disorganizing the data, making it challenging to interpret and analyze.

PDF converters

The most guaranteed option is to use a PDF converter. You can download a converter and install it on your PC. Just be careful to get the converter from a trustworthy developer to eliminate the risk of infecting your computer with viruses. To know if a download has a virus:

  • Beware of false positives from virus scanners, wherein they label a file as a virus, even when it’s not a threat.
  • Upload the contentious file to online virus scanning services to confirm its integrity
  • Read available reviews to see what other users are saying about this download.
  • Look out for typical virus symptoms like blue screen crashes, unexplained lags, or unfamiliar processes and applications.

The online option

Another alternative is an online PDF to Excel converter, which eliminates the need for downloads. Besides, online converters are quickly accessible, shortening your PDF to Excel conversion time to just a few minutes. Moreover, many providers offer these converters for free, especially if you’re converting just a few pages or a small-sized file. You may want to compare your file size with the limits and see if you can use the free versions.

If your conversion needs are heavy, say you want to convert hundreds of pages regularly, you may wish to purchase a lifetime license or subscribe for a month or two for unlimited access. 74% of software developers use subscription models, while 65% use perpetual licenses.

So, the two options should be accessible for your preferred PDF to Excel converter. Shop around for an affordable deal to keep your spending on software in check.

  • Use the automatic converting option.

If your PDF document comprises only data tables, your best option is automatic conversion. While the exact procedures vary from one software to another, the basic steps involve uploading the PDF file from your computer or dragging it to a designated tray on the site and choosing the convert option. Your entire document will be transformed into a spreadsheet, after which you can save the Excel file to your preferred location. It’s also an excellent option if the table layouts aren’t complicated, perhaps a simple columns-rows combination.

  • Use custom PDF to Excel features.

Some PDF files aren’t straightforward. Some may comprise graphics, written texts, and charts on top of data tables. Fixing all these elements into a spreadsheet isn’t worthwhile, as the final look won’t be appealing. Moreover, it beats logic to have long sections of written text and images in an Excel file, given that the software isn’t designed to process such data. There are better tools for texts and images, such as word processors. Excel is best suited for tables. Therefore, you may want to extract only those sections containing tables and convert them into Excel instead of converting the entire file.

One option is to integrate the Optical Character Recognition (OCR) feature into PDF editors. The technology dates back to 1974 when Ray Kurzweil invented a machine-learning device to read printed text aloud for the blind. It’s an excellent option for scanned documents, image-only PDFs, handwritten pages, or camera images. Fundamentally, you use the cursor to draw a rectangle over the area with the table. OCR extracts the data and organizes it into rows and tables similar to the original table.

Another approach is splitting the PDF file into individual pages and then handpicking the ones that should be converted. It works for PDF documents with tabulated data on specific pages.

  • Use conversion templates

Conversion templates are a quick way to transform PDF files into Excel format. Suppose you receive dozens of receipts or invoices daily and turn them into spreadsheets for further computational analysis. In that case, it’d be hectic to specify the finer details of your desired output with each conversion. You typically have to determine where the borders should be inserted, which cells to merge, and such-like nitty-gritty.

Your winning strategy, in this case, is saving your preferences as a template. The next time you work on a similar PDF file, you only have to pick the matching template, and your table adjusts to the saved settings.

  • Preview

Most PDF to Excel converters come with the preview feature. It helps you see the final output before commencing the conversion. If anything seems amiss, perhaps a borderline inserted where it shouldn’t be, you can rectify it immediately. Moreover, you can edit the entries if they weren’t appropriately captured. OCRs are usually thorough but can miss some details if the PDF file isn’t perfectly legible.


Converting PDF to Excel files is pretty straightforward if you have a suitable tool. From the discussion, it’s evident that a mere PDF to Excel converter won’t suffice. You need an editor with a wide range of features to cater to the diverse particularities of PDF files and table layouts. Thus, you’re better off with a feature-rich PDF editor. Start your selection process now and take your document management prowess to the next level.