How to Convert PDF to Excel

Converting any file from one format to another can be a frustrating ordeal without the right tools. If you've tried to convert PDF to Microsoft® Excel before, you know exactly how challenging it can be, especially if you're programmatically processing high volumes of documents on a daily basis.

If you are looking to convert PDF to Excel with a .NET SDK, then this is the guide for you. In this article, we will look at the Excel software, discuss the reasons to convert PDF to Excel, and the simple process it takes to complete the task with DocConverter by ActivePDF.

Excel File Quick Facts:

  • Microsoft® Excel is a spreadsheet developed by Microsoft for Windows, macOS, Android and iOS.
  • Excel features calculation, graphing tools, pivot tables, and a macro programming language called Visual Basic for Applications.
  • Initially released in1987, Excel eventually replaced Lotus 1-2-3 as the industry standard for spreadsheets. 
  • Excel is part of the Microsoft Office suite of software.
  • The latest version (as of this writing) is Excel 16.0, released with Microsoft Office 2019.


Working with PDF and Excel File Formats

Before converting a PDF file for use in Excel, it's important to know the actual file format you're converting.

Excel spreadsheets can use a few different file formats, the most popular being CSV (Comma-Separated Values) and XLSX (An XML-based spreadsheet file create by Microsoft specifically for use with Excel). Excel can use a few other formats as well, such as XLSM (a format which supports macros), and XLS (used in earlier versions of Excel).

However, for the purposes of this Learning Center article, we will focus primarily on a converting PDF to XLS/XLSX files.


Why Convert PDF to XLS or XLSX?

There are a many reasons to convert a PDF to XLS or XLSX, such as:

  • Taking a specific table out of a PDF and placing it into an Excel spreadsheet.
    >> This is useful when you want to use Excel to perform calculations using the data within the PDF, or if you need to edit the data and share it in a format that can be further edited by others.
  • Exporting charts and graphs in a PDF-to an XLSX format for easier editing to the underlying data or formatting.
    >> This makes it easier to share with others for editing. PDF files do guarantee the formatting will be seen properly by all recipients, which is likely why the graph or chart is in a PDF in the first place.

What Software Converts PDF Files to Excel Format?

To get started with converting PDF to Excel, consider trying DocConverter, ActivePDF's state-of-the-art, server-based PDF conversion tool. The industry-leading choice for high-volume document conversion, DocConverter enables you to easily convert XLS/XLSX files to PDF and/or PDFA (and vice versa), without 3rd-party installations such as Microsoft® Word, Excel, or any open-source equivalents.

This is essential for those who want to reduce costs, increase speed, and eliminate additional license management for PDF conversion from Excel to PDF. Perfect for developers and IT administrators!

Download DocConverter


How to Convert PDF to XLSX in 5 Easy Steps

Now that we've covered Excel basics, why, how, and what software to use for converting PDF to Excel, let's take a look at how to perform the conversion.

Below is a C# code snippet to convert PDF to Excel conversion example:

// Convert a PDF to a XLSX
results = oDC.ConvertFormPDF("input.PDF", FromPDFFunction. ToExcel, "output.xlsx");
if (results.DocConverterStatus != DCDK.Results.DocConverterStatus.Success)
     ErrorHandler("ConvertFromPDF", results, results.DocConverterStatus.ToString());

That's all it takes! It really is that simple to convert PDF to Excel with the help of DocConverter.


WARNING: Facts About Document Conversion Software for Developers and IT Admins

If you've researched PDF-to-XLSX document conversion software, you most likely became overwhelmed by the large amount of options. Unfortunately, most of the options could cost you dearly, and we're not just talking about wasting your time with long, and incorrect conversions. We're talking security risks which can incur fines from breaking industry-specific regulations and compliance rules.

Tools we warn against using are online and free (aka open source) PDF-to-Excel converters.

These are often the slowest and least secure way to convert a PDF file to XLSX (and vice versa). They can pose a huge security and compliance risk mainly because the files you convert are stored on their servers. When you convert a PDF to an Excel file using one of these online services, they gain control of your file and the contents within the files.

Even if the company promises to never use your data in a malicious way, you can't be sure if their server has been hardened properly and thus, putting your organization at risk for having a file leaked by using these services. This is why we always advocate completing a conversion using software installed to your workstation or server. This is recommended to save time and ensure file security..

Instead of uploading your file to their server, then waiting for the conversion to take place, and then downloading the new file, you're only performing one step: Converting the file. DONE!

This significantly cuts down on the time it takes do a conversion (Especially if you're doing a batch conversion, which may not even be supported by online converters).


PDF to Excel .NET API


PDF-to-Excel Summary

Let's recap everything you need to know about converting PDF to Excel:

  • Remember that converting PDF to Excel will enable you to turn a table or a graph in a PDF file into an editable format.
    This significantly helps when in need of editing the information within and collaborating on the data.
  • Avoid free and other online conversion tools.
    As covered, these tools pose HUGE security and compliance risks and are in general a slower method, requiring the additional steps and time of uploading and then downloading the file. This can turn a simple conversion, that should take mere seconds, into something that lasts several minutes (depending on connection and proximity to the server).
  • Keep it Simple!
    Remember, with DocConverter, the entire process can be done within minutes and with very little effort.

For more questions on converting PDF to Excel, DocConverter, or other digital transformation solutions, contact the knowledgeable technical advisors at ActivePDF now:


Download DocConverter




ActivePDF DocConverter is a powerful .NET document conversion solution with SDK, offering support for popular file types that convert to and from PDF. Extend scalable conversion capabilities across the enterprise while managing processes from a single location. Integrate document conversion into your existing applications. Create watched folders for simple drag-and drop conversions, auto append new pages to existing PDF and retain interactive elements with secure PDF output.

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