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Convert PDF to Excel Using Able2Extract

PDF files are all the rage. People send a PDF file when they don't want you to change their data. Convenient for them, but frustrating for you. I am on the finance committee at my church. Every month, I get the income statement and balance sheet sent to me as a PDF. There are problems with the income statement. Capital Expenditures are mixed right in with regular expenses. I always want to restate the income statement to see how we are doing without the income and expense of the capital projects.

I usually try the Text Select tool in Acrobat. Select the text, copy, and paste to Excel and I have this horrible mess.

Luckily, I know VBA, and I usually write a macro to parse based on dollar signs and after a bunch of work, I have something usable. Thankfully, there is a new product that will allow me to throw away the VBA. I met these guys on one of my trips to Toronto. I fired up their software just minutes before the recent finance committee meeting. The results were AMAZING.

First, there is no need for a manual. When you open the product, tooltips tell you exactly what to do.

Select the data you want to convert. Just drag to highlight the data.

Hit the "E" button to go to Excel. (You could also go to Word, HTML, or Text...)

Ten seconds later, you have the result in a new Excel window.

Now - my only complaint, and it is really minor: This worked so well, that I opened the balance sheet PDF and converted it. The balance sheet was sent to a new instance of Excel, so I could not easily "Move or Copy Sheets" to get the two reports into a single workbook. This was a really minor hassle compared to the old hassles I used to go through. And really, it just confused me because I had to leave for the meeting right away. Now that I understand how the product works, I could easily Save from one instance of Excel and open in another instance of Excel.

Bottom line: This is a really cool product for Excel. If you regularly are trying to get data out of PDF's, this will pay for itself the first time that you use it.

The details: There are two versions. The regular version will nicely grab data from any PDF that contains text that you can select with the Text Select tool. The Pro version will also grab data from those evil people who save their PDF's as graphics instead of Text. You can download and try either version for free. The regular version is $89 and the Pro version is $109. Or - if you have a one-time PDF emergency, you can license the product for 30 days for $29.95.

For more information: visit the Able2Extract website.

This review was originally published on October 22, 2005. The permanent URL for this page is Consulting can be hired to implement this concept, or many other cool applications, with your data. provides examples of Visual Basic procedures for illustration only, without warranty either expressed or implied, including but not limited to the implied warranties of merchantability and/or fitness for a particular purpose. The Visual Basic procedures on this web site are provided "as is" and we do not guarantee that they can be used in all situations.


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