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Data Extraction from PDF

Portable document format (PDF) has become an industry standard for creating and viewing various types of documents. Governments, businesses, and enterprises publish their work as PDF documents. These PDFs contain essential data in the form of tables and texts. Frequently, due to PDF documents’ additional formatting, the data in PDF tables and text can not be easily copied to spreadsheet or CSV files.

Various tools are available in the market. These tools try to solve PDF data extraction problems with varying results. Results often vary because the PDF formatting depends on the software it was created on. Therefore, every table behaves slightly differently. Traditionally, when one tool fails, another tool can do the job. But this process is very tedious, and there is always room for error. This article lists tools with advanced features to extract data from PDFs, preventing experimentation with different tools and saving time and money.

Essential PDF Data Extraction Capabilities

Any data extraction tool must have the necessary features for reliable extraction, requiring minimal manual work. In large batch extraction tasks, undetected mistakes can ruin the whole dataset.  An ideal tool must accurately fetch tables, text, and images from PDFs.

The tool should automatically extract and convert tables and texts from PDFs. It should handle various formats and be able to pull tables and text from scanned PDF files. The PDF data extractor must also be able to tackle images, infographics, and charts. The tool should extract the information but keep the formatting for effective viewing.

Additional Important Features

  • Select a tool that can extract images and texts. Ideally, an OCR-enabled PDF extraction tool is preferred that can apply precise OCR image processing.
  • PDF data extraction software must process documents containing multiple languages because many PDFs have multiple languages these days.
  • Workflow automation is also essential to enable task scheduling at regular intervals or when an unstructured data file is added.
  • The tool must be compatible with formats such as RTF, XML, CSV, and HTML. For instance, XML is prevalent in clinical trial research. RTF and CSV are popular with Microsoft documents, and HTML primarily deals with web-based files.
  • Moreover, the software must convert extracted data into spreadsheet files such as Excel, CSV, TSV, or JSON.

Based on the above characteristics, the two fully-featured tools for all data extraction tasks are PDF Solution and ByteScout.

PDF Solution

PDF Solutions offer cloud-based solutions powered by its PDF Exensio analytics platform. It supports hundreds of data formats from FDC, Yield, Test, Assembly, & Packaging. It seamlessly integrates all data into a single, semantic data model ready for interactive analytics and machine-learning applications.


ByteScout’s tools are powered by artificial intelligence. Its machine learning equipped tools are ideal for data extraction in healthcare, insurance, logistics, computer, hardware industry, and blockchain technology. ByteScout also offers specialized solutions for the Legal, Education, and FinTech Industry. It has dedicated feature-rich tools for the banking real estate and the automotive industry, offering archive processing and automation.

Different Data Extraction Processes from PDFs

Data extraction from a PDF file can be done in several ways. In particular, this extraction process can be carried out in 4 basic ways. These methods are:

  • Copying and pasting;
  • Manual entry;
  • PDF conversion;
  • Automated conversion.

Copying and Pasting

Copying and pasting data from a PDF file onto another file is easy. This process is helpful when a simple or small PDF file is used. All you have to do is click, highlight, and copy the text. However, you may need to edit some portions of the text after pasting it. Similarly, some types of PDF documents cannot be easily copied and pasted. The method of PDF encoding can be responsible for the inability to extract data in such a method. The copying and pasting process of data extraction from a PDF is impractical for an enormous, complicated PDF file.

Manual Entry

You can also use manual entry to extract data from a PDF file. If you have typing skills, you can quickly complete the job. However, it might be best to outsource this process to a professional typist. These experts can completely transform your PDF files fast with more minor errors. Likewise, it is a cheaper alternative to many other options.

Finding a person to extract information from a PDF file to another document manually is relatively easy. There are several platforms you can find people to hire. These websites include:

  • Upwork;
  • Fiverr;
  • Guru;
  • Freelancer.

You can find talented individuals from all around the world.

PDF Conversion

Over the years, high-quality PDF conversion tools have been developed. These converters can ensure the security and quality of the data you extract. Similarly, you do not have to give out sensitive documents to third-party individuals.

In general, there are three types of PDF conversion tools. These applications are web-based, mobile applications, and computer software. The type you use depends on what you want to achieve. However, PDF conversion tools are not ideal for huge documents.

Automated Conversion

The automated conversion process mostly offers the best approach for extracting data from a PDF to another document. In most cases, this tool operates using artificial intelligence (AI). Automated conversion tools offer you a fast, accurate, and consistent PDF extraction system. Unlike most extraction methods, this tool can work on scanned documents. Yet, you will have to pay a lot of money to access this service.

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