How to Convert PDF to CSV

By Regina Edwards

Database and spreadsheet applications access external data saved in a comma-separated value (CSV) format. CSV provides specific, basic formatting for fields and records. Information from a PDF can be exported as a text file (TXT format) that contains tab-delimited formatting before converting to a CSV data file. Common spreadsheet programs such as Microsoft Word or OpenOffice Calc import text files directly through the Open command. Similarly, these programs convert spreadsheets into CSV format through the Save As function. The spreadsheet application provides a useful intermediary step because data and formatting can be checked before converting to a CSV file.

Things You'll Need

  • Adobe Acrobat Standard or above
  • Spreadsheet application

Step 1

Open the desired PDF document in Acrobat Standard or Professional.

Step 2

Select "Export" under "File" and choose "Text." Some versions of Acrobat include options for "Text (accessible)" and "Text (plain);" choose "Text (accessible)" to preserve basic formatting.

Step 3

Type the file name for the converted document and click the "Save" button. Acrobat saves text files as tab-delimited files.

Step 4

Launch the spreadsheet application (such as Microsoft Excel or OpenOffice Calc) and select "Open" under "File" in the top menu bar.

Step 5

Select the text file created in Step 3 and click the "Open" button to launch an Import Wizard.

Step 6

Review the pages in the Import Wizard to select how the data is organized in columns and click the "Next" button to navigate through the wizard. For example, select "Delimited" to specify fields and click the option next to "Space" or "Comma" to specify how the fields are separated.

Step 7

Click the "Finish" button.

Step 8

Select the "Save As" function (usually under "File" in the top menu bar) and select the file type as "CSV (Comma-Separated Values)." Select "CSV (Windows)" instead of "CSV (MS-DOS)" if this option is displayed.

Step 9

Click the "Save" button.

Tips & Warnings

  • Since Acrobat exports text files in a tab-delimited format, check whether your desired target application (such as database program) can import a text file accurately before proceeding with the added steps to convert the file to a CSV format.