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Spreadsheets: Moving Data from PDF to Excel

Converting a PDF "data dump" into Excel or Access is made easier with a third-party tool.

Bill Jelen, | US
November 17, 2010

Control Your Security Settings

To prevent alteration of information sent in a pdf, use the security settings for the document to prevent the type of copying and conversion we have discussed. The document should be further secured with a digital signature so that it can be authenticated and any changes made since application of the digital signature revealed. Requiring a password to open the document also limits who will access content and how they will use it. Nothing prevents the truly dedicated from retyping a document, to make it appear "real," but the digitial signature will be missing and its lack of authenticity proven. If your local CPA association has not held a session on securing and authenticating electronic documents, you might want to suggest it to your education committee -- it will be 60 - 90 minutes of the best CPE you've ever had. Maria

Posted by MARIA THOMPSON | November 29, 2010 11:10 am

How to Do It

Actually, this seems to be a problem with how the PDF was created, not so much with Excel. Of course, Excel might try harder. Tables in a PDF file should be correctly marked up. If they are, then select a table and right click. Choose Open Table in Spreadsheet and it should open correctly in Excel, though it will require formatting. To correctly mark up a table prior to printing to PDF, make sure that the table has a header. See here for more info: Also, you can select a table and drag-and-drop it into Excel. This will require the use of the Text Import Wizard to separate the data. My suggestion is to make sure that the software creating your PDFs is properly coding the tables. Word 2010, maybe earlier as well, does if you create them properly.

Posted by Tim Mayes | November 23, 2010 02:04 pm

Reasonable convergence tip

This is good information but as a CPA, I do not want my clients knowing about it. It would allow them to change items in reports that I send them. The reason I send them in a PDF format is that it is locked and they cannot manipulate the numbers.

Posted by Howard Drobes | November 22, 2010 11:03 am

Good Excel tip!

Microsoft Excel is an excellent tool, but there are definitely frustrating anomalies encountered when using it. Good tip! Tony Ciotti |

Posted by Tony Ciotti | November 18, 2010 07:20 pm

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