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PDF Data Extraction: Challenges, Use Cases, Software

Importance of PDF in the modern era

In today’s world, Portable Document Format (PDF) has become omnipresent as a digital replacement for all documents and holds important business data. Data in PDF is sensitive and needs to be extracted by businesses for their use. Manually keying in data can be a tiresome and error-prone task. Therefore, there’s a need to extract data accurately from PDF for businesses and eliminate the need for manual data entry.

Use Cases of PDF Document

PDF files are widely used in exchanging business data, PDFs are transmitted internally as well as externally. Below are some use-cases for PDF documents:

  • Invoices
  • Offer Letters
  • Purchase Orders
  • Shipping Notes
  • Reports
  • Presentations
  • HR Forms
  • Contracts

The documents mentioned above are used to transfer important business data. However, issues arise when data needs to be extracted from these documents. Thus, the question rises - How to extract data from PDF Files?

Challenges of extracting data from PDF

Before we discuss how to extract data from PDF files, we look at the challenges faced while extracting data from PDF. Firstly, as most of the files are scanned images, therefore to convert them to tex, we have to perform a method called Optical Character Recognition (OCR). Subsequently, the transformed text data can be copy-pasted, however, the process in entirety can be tedious, error-prone, and not scalable.

Extracting data from PDF

The general idea behind extracting data from PDF is to re-enter the data from the PDF files. This method can be very error-prone as it involves human entering data. Below we discuss a few approaches that can be applied to extract data from a PDF file.

Manually entering the data

As mentioned above, this method can be tiresome, error-prone, and monotonous. As humans perform this method, there’s a high chance of error in data entry.

Outsourcing manual data entry

Data entry jobs are widely available on the internet. Data entry providers offer fast and cheap service with expertise in performing these actions. They eventually use some sort of advanced technology to speed up the process. However, this method may not be secure if the data is related to business or so.

PDF data extraction software

There is a variety of pdf extraction software that can be used, ranging from OCR tools to automated platforms. Here are the few examples of such software:

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