Best Software to Extract Tables from PDF and Export to Excel, CSV, & More


Tabula works excellent with native PDF files – meaning PDF files that contain “selectable” text data. It can be used on Windows, Mac, or Linux, and its open-source is also available on GitHub. Tabula also works simply– -you choose your PDF file, define the table columns you need to extract and download the extracted data as an excel file.

It is a robust software that is easy to use if you have a PDF file. But it doesn’t come without any shortcomings.

The biggest problem with Tabula is that the software lets you upload native PDF files only. It does not support Optical Character Recognition (OCR). Thus, it won’t work if your tables are in a scanned document or an image. You would first need to convert the scanned document or image into a PDF and then use Tabula to extract its tables.

Also, it cannot do batch processing. The software only allows one document with each upload. So if you have a batch of PDF files to work upon, you need to upload them one by one and work on each of them individually.

Tabula is a Desktop software for Mac as well as Windows. Under the hood, it uses an open-source library called Tabula-Java (In fact, Docparser also uses the same library as well), which thus can be run on any operating system supporting Java. If you are a developer, you can use the Tabula-Java library on the command line or embed it into your software.

Tabula exports your PDF tables to Excel files, which most users probably need. However, if you want to send your PDF table data to cloud services like Tableau or Google Sheets, Tabula won’t be very helpful.


PdfTables is a fully automated table extraction API. You can upload your PDF documents on their website or through an HTTP REST API. All table extraction is done automatically, and you can obtain your table data in Excel, CSV, or JSON format. So far, so good. PDFTables work more like Tabula, except you don’t need to download any file on your machine.

This is great, but you also entirely rely on their algorithm to ‘get it right.’ PDFTables does not allow you to tweak the output in any way inside their app. Also, they don’t have any cloud integrations to import your documents and send the data further along automatically.

Like Tabula, PDFTables lets you download your table data in Excel (XLS) format. However, it also supports the CSV and XML format for data download.

To our knowledge, PDFTables do not provide any OCR processing. Thus, if you have tables from scanned images, you either need to run OCR on your documents first or move on to our following software of the article – Docparser.


Both the software presented above come with their set of advantages and disadvantages. As per its name, Docparser is a parsing app that not only extracts tables from PDF but can extract any kind of data from any type of document, scanned image, or PDF.

Docparser is a cloud-based application for extracting data from PDFs and scanned documents.

— Update: 25-03-2023 — found an additional article How to Easily Extract a Table From a PDF from the website for the keyword how to extract tables from pdf documents.

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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