How do we convert tables from pdf into editable tables in Word?
Thread poster: Fredrik Pettersson

Fredrik Pettersson  Identity Verified
Hong Kong
Member (2009)
English to Swedish
+ ...
Nov 12, 2009

How do we convert tables from pdf into editable tables in Word?

We have a lot of tables with medical formulas that we need to convert. Does anyone has experience of a software which can do accurate conversions of special signs and characters etc. that are used in pharmaceutics, from pdf to editable tables in Word? N.B., it must be editable in Word, not just move the image from pdf to Word. The whole layout of the pdf table should remain intact after conversion also.


Julie Allison  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 14:28
Spanish to English
+ ...
Save PDF as text perhaps Nov 12, 2009

The only way I know of is to save the PDF document as text, but you'd have re-format and re-create the tables, although the text would all be present in the conversion. If you can't find any other software, this may be the only option you have to retain all the information.


Elvana Moore  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 14:28
English to Albanian
+ ...
Pdf to word convereter Nov 12, 2009

Hi Fredrik,

Try the following program - if you download the professional version it comes up with better results. However, it pretty much depends on the quality of your documents. It is free for a while...



Susanne Bittner  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:28
English to German
+ ...
PDF into Word Nov 12, 2009

The latest Abbyy-version is very good with tables, though I could NOT say about special signs & letters. Had much trouble with PDFConverter.


FarkasAndras  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:28
English to Hungarian
+ ...
Worst nightmare Nov 12, 2009

As you can see from the answers, there is no straightforward, convenient way of doing this well. I reserve a special kind of deep and powerful hatred for the people who publish terminology lists in pdf... actually, I despise anyone who publishes anything in a pdf, with very few exceptions.
If the thing follows a strict and regular format, you may be able to get it done in way that doesn't make you pull your hair out, without installing new software.
Say, save as text or select all and paste into MS Word and have a good look at it. If it's one word per cell (no spaces inside cells), you can probably just replace spaces with tabs bacuase pdf files pasted into word usually get spaces between cells (ctrl-h, replace space with ^t, replace all). Same applies if there is a character or character string that only occurs at the end/beginning of cells.
Then remove surplus like page numbers and headers with search and replace, copy&paste the whole thing into Excel and see if there are any further anomalies to take care of. Excel makes a table out of your tab separated text, you can make certain kinds of corrections easier there, and then paste back to Word to get a Word table if you want.
Same if you end up with all the cells in new lines after copy&paste: it's fairly easy to move every second line into a newly created second column.

I wouldn't expect any software to do this flawlessly, and I really wouldn't trust character recognition sw like ABBYY to get all the special symbols right.

Of course, there are many kinds of PDF files and PDF tables, so you never know until you try. Maybe it's a scanned document and you're SOL, maybe it's some really well formatted and simple file that takes 2 minutes to convert.

Of course what I'm describing here are hacks that produce results that range from flawless to useless, but the same applies to any software you might decide to use.

[Edited at 2009-11-12 19:07 GMT]


Marinus Vesseur  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:28
English to Dutch
+ ...
OCR Nov 30, 2009

That sounds like a job for an OCR program like the already mentioned Abby FineReader. I work with Nuance OmniPage, which is ok. They all produce Word documents that are loaded with tags, though, so there a pain in the [Enter Bodypart Here] in conjunction with Trados.

I recently tried Nitro, which can be tried online as well. The results are impressive, but I don't know how it handles Asian languages. Here's a link It takes a few hours to get the results sent to your e-mail address, but for Western languages it is the best I've seen thus far.

give it a go :) Aug 13, 2013

hey man
im not sure if you can convert the actual table,
but you can give it a go with a free converter like
you will probably just get a jumble of text thoughicon_razz.gif


Inga Petkelyte  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:28
Lithuanian to Portuguese
+ ...
Deep and powerful Aug 13, 2013

I'm sorry, but I laughed out really loud there !icon_biggrin.gifDD I share the feelings to some extent, tables are a lousy thing, but it sounded so genuine and sincereicon_biggrin.gif
My first move in such cases ask the client whether they have it in Word. In many cases, they do!
And in other many cases, I just have to count the lines and columns and redo everything.
Good links for tools here, thanks for the advice.


Tony M
Local time: 15:28
French to English
+ ...
Some thoughts... Aug 13, 2013

First and foremost, I'm assuming that you have already found this is a non-editable format (if not, just drag it out to Word).

Do the tables all have the same format? If so, maybe you could re-create one, and then copy it as many times as necessary.

Is there anything actually within the complicated formulæ that needs translating? If not, can you just copy them across as graphics elements and insert them in your table cells? I often do this with non-editable formulæ in documents I receive, and although it's not exactly pretty, it is certainly expedient icon_wink.gif


Mpoma  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 14:28
French to English
Abobe Acrobat (free trial version available) Feb 21, 2014

Just thought I'd add my tuppence worth.

I had all sorts of problems with this: tried SolidConverter, PDF reader. etc.

Then I tried the solution "from the horse's mouth"... because ultimately it is Adobe which is responsible for this ubiquitous PDF usage.

But Adobe Acrobat is v v pricey. Too much for a tightwad like me anyway. However 200 € or so might actually prove OK for some heavy users.

Fortunately there's a trial version which lasts for one month (at the time of writing).

It did an EXCELLENT job of converting PDF tables to Word tables. Give it a try...


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