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Mitchell Sloan
By Mitchell Sloan on February 17, 2021

4️⃣ Tips on Extracting Data From PDF Documents

PDFs are the most common alternative to paper documents. They're compatible across most operating systems and devices, making them a convenient option for anyone who needs to share information with a broad audience.

Relevant data of all kinds come in PDF format.  Whether you're reviewing a medical study, reports, or presentations, applying the data in a PDF to your company can be nearly impossible unless you learn how to extract the information into the proper format. 

Data found in PDFs is unstructured. Unstructured data refers to information that isn't organised according to specified parameters. Most unstructured data is text-heavy, but often contains numerical information like dates, facts, and percentages. 

You have two basic options for extracting data from PDF documents: manually refining data and automated data extraction. Automated extraction is faster, but manually copying and pasting the information can be an efficient option if you only have a few documents. 

4 Tips on Extracting Data From PDF Documents

  • Copy and Paste
  • Use a PDF Converter
  • Extracting data to Excel
  • Automating data extraction

Copy and Paste

Sometimes the easiest solution is to copy and paste. If you only have a handful of data pages, copying and pasting the information from PDF to the appropriate program (like Excel) might be the most straightforward option. While this may be the quickest way to get information from point A to point B, there are potential opportunities for errors, and you'll need to re-organise the data manually. Consequently, it becomes a hassle once you start processing hundreds of documents daily. 

Use a PDF Converter

Accuracy and security are essential when you're extracting data. A PDF converter allows in-house staff to extract data quickly. Some of the most popular PDF converters include Adobe, Cometdocs, PDF to Excel, and SimplyPDF. You cannot extract data in bulk using this method, so you'll have to use the converting process for each document. Be sure to line up personnel and allow adequate time for this project.

Extracting data to Excel

You can extract data from PDF files directly into Excel. First, you'll need to import your PDF file. Once you import the file, use the extract data button to begin the extraction process. You should see several instruction windows that will help you extract the selected data. Once the data is gathered, it will save as a CSV file to your computer. 

Automating data extraction

The fastest, and most reliable, way to extract data from many PDF files is through an automated document understanding system. Automated systems are efficient and reliable. Automatic extraction removes human error and allows for real-time updates. An automated system uses a combination of optical character recognition, pattern recognition, robotic process automation, and text, table, and image recognition to find and extract specific bulk data. 

Collecting data is only one part of the process of creating usable information for your organisation. We can help make that step faster, so you can spend more time analysing data and making decisions to move your business forward. 

Contact us today for more information.


Published by Mitchell Sloan February 17, 2021
Mitchell Sloan