Converting pdf files to excel xls

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Two hours ago, a friend of mine who is completing an internship asked me whether I could save him from having to manually convert 462 pdf files to.xls by using a free online tool.

Unoconv came to mind as a shell script, but I wasn't sure how to use it properly, and I'm not sure if it can address this issue since it mostly converts files to PDFs rather than the other way around.
Oct 30 in Others by Kithuzzz
• 20,660 points
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1 answer to this question.

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It is not always possible and typically not advised to convert from PDF to any other structured format. Having said that, there are quite a few of them and this does appear to be a one-off job (462).

If you can dependably extract text from the majority of them and it is reasonably structured, it is worthwhile to pursue. A sample of the PDFs that you can dependably parse into a table structure must be output as ordinary text.

Just do a search to get a tonne of tools that focus on direct or OCR-based text extraction.

One that I like using is pstotext from the ghostscript suite; using the -bboxes option, I can obtain the coordinates of each word and reassemble the structure on my own. In spite of its name, it can function with PDF inputs. The drawback is that it can be a little erratic, and some PDFs may function but not others.

In order to convert that to a CSV if you make it this far, you'd probably need to develop a shell script or program. You have two options: open it straight in a spreadsheet or find tools that will convert it to XLS.
answered Oct 30 by narikkadan
• 37,660 points

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