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excel – Extract Data from PDF and Add to Worksheet

Posted by: admin March 7, 2020 Leave a comment


I am trying to extract the data from a PDF document into a worksheet. The PDFs show and text can be manually copied and pasted into the Excel document.

I am currently doing this through SendKeys and it is not working. I get an error when I try to paste the data from the PDF document. Why is my paste not working? If I paste after the macro has stopped running it pastes as normal.

Dim myPath As String, myExt As String
Dim ws As Worksheet
Dim openPDF As Object
'Dim pasteData As MSForms.DataObject
Dim fCell As Range

'Set pasteData = New MSForms.DataObject
Set ws = Sheets("DATA")
If ws.Cells(ws.Rows.Count, "A").End(xlUp).Row > 1 Then Range("A3:A" & ws.Cells(ws.Rows.Count, "A").End(xlUp).Row).ClearContents

myExt = "\*.pdf"
'When Scan Receipts Button Pressed Scan the selected folder/s for receipts
For Each fCell In Range(ws.Cells(1, 1), ws.Cells(1, ws.Cells(1, ws.Columns.Count).End(xlToLeft).Column))
    myPath = Dir(fCell.Value & myExt)
    Do While myPath <> ""
        myPath = fCell.Value & "\" & myPath
        Set openPDF = CreateObject("Shell.Application")
        openPDF.Open (myPath)
        Application.Wait Now + TimeValue("00:00:2")
        SendKeys "^a"
        Application.Wait Now + TimeValue("00:00:2")
        SendKeys "^c"
        'Application.Wait Now + TimeValue("00:00:2")

        'ws.Cells(3, 1) = pasteData.GetText
        Exit Sub

        myPath = Dir

Next fCell
How to&Answers:

You can open the PDF file and extract its contents using the Adobe library (which I believe you can download from Adobe as part of the SDK, but it comes with certain versions of Acrobat as well)

Make sure to add the Library to your references too (On my machine it is the Adobe Acrobat 10.0 Type Library, but not sure if that is the newest version)

Even with the Adobe library it is not trivial (you’ll need to add your own error-trapping etc):

Function getTextFromPDF(ByVal strFilename As String) As String
   Dim objAVDoc As New AcroAVDoc
   Dim objPDDoc As New AcroPDDoc
   Dim objPage As AcroPDPage
   Dim objSelection As AcroPDTextSelect
   Dim objHighlight As AcroHiliteList
   Dim pageNum As Long
   Dim strText As String

   strText = ""
   If (objAvDoc.Open(strFilename, "") Then
      Set objPDDoc = objAVDoc.GetPDDoc
      For pageNum = 0 To objPDDoc.GetNumPages() - 1
         Set objPage = objPDDoc.AcquirePage(pageNum)
         Set objHighlight = New AcroHiliteList
         objHighlight.Add 0, 10000 ' Adjust this up if it's not getting all the text on the page
         Set objSelection = objPage.CreatePageHilite(objHighlight)

         If Not objSelection Is Nothing Then
            For tCount = 0 To objSelection.GetNumText - 1
               strText = strText & objSelection.GetText(tCount)
            Next tCount
         End If
      Next pageNum
      objAVDoc.Close 1
   End If

   getTextFromPDF = strText

End Function

What this does is essentially the same thing you are trying to do – only using Adobe’s own library. It’s going through the PDF one page at a time, highlighting all of the text on the page, then dropping it (one text element at a time) into a string.

Keep in mind what you get from this could be full of all kinds of non-printing characters (line feeds, newlines, etc) that could even end up in the middle of what look like contiguous blocks of text, so you may need additional code to clean it up before you can use it.

Hope that helps!


I know this is an old issue but I just had to do this for a project at work, and I am very surprised that nobody has thought of this solution yet:
Just open the .pdf with Microsoft word.

The code is a lot easier to work with when you are trying to extract data from a .docx because it opens in Microsoft Word. Excel and Word play well together because they are both Microsoft programs. In my case, the file of question had to be a .pdf file. Here’s the solution I came up with:

  1. Choose the default program to open .pdf files to be Microsoft Word
  2. The first time you open a .pdf file with word, a dialogue box pops up claiming word will need to convert the .pdf into a .docx file. Click the check box in the bottom left stating “do not show this message again” and then click OK.
  3. Create a macro that extracts data from a .docx file. I used MikeD’s Code as a resource for this.
  4. Tinker around with the MoveDown, MoveRight, and Find.Execute methods to fit the need of your task.

Yes you could just convert the .pdf file to a .docx file but this is a much simpler solution in my opinion.


Over time, I have found that extracting text from PDFs in a structured format is tough business. However if you are looking for an easy solution, you might want to consider XPDF tool pdftotext.

Pseudocode to extract the text would include:

  1. Using SHELL VBA statement to extract the text from PDF to a temporary file using XPDF
  2. Using sequential file read statements to read the temporary file contents into a string
  3. Pasting the string into Excel

Simplified example below:

    Sub ReadIntoExcel(PDFName As String)
        'Convert PDF to text
        Shell "C:\Utils\pdftotext.exe -layout " & PDFName & " tempfile.txt"

        'Read in the text file and write to Excel
        Dim TextLine as String
        Dim RowNumber as Integer
        Dim F1 as Integer
        RowNumber = 1
        F1 = Freefile()
        Open "tempfile.txt" for Input as #F1
            While Not EOF(#F1)
                Line Input #F1, TextLine
                ThisWorkbook.WorkSheets(1).Cells(RowNumber, 1).Value = TextLine
                RowNumber = RowNumber + 1
        Close #F1
    End Sub


Copying and pasting by user interactions emulation could be not reliable (for example, popup appears and it switches the focus). You may be interested in trying the commercial ByteScout PDF Extractor SDK that is specifically designed to extract data from PDF and it works from VBA. It is also capable of extracting data from invoices and tables as CSV using VB code.

Here is the VBA code for Excel to extract text from given locations and save them into cells in the Sheet1:

Private Sub CommandButton1_Click()

' Create TextExtractor object
' Set extractor = CreateObject("Bytescout.PDFExtractor.TextExtractor")
Dim extractor As New Bytescout_PDFExtractor.TextExtractor

extractor.RegistrationName = "demo"
extractor.RegistrationKey = "demo"

' Load sample PDF document
extractor.LoadDocumentFromFile ("c:\sample1.pdf")

' Get page count
pageCount = extractor.GetPageCount()

Dim wb As Workbook
Dim ws As Worksheet
Dim TxtRng  As Range

Set wb = ActiveWorkbook
Set ws = wb.Sheets("Sheet1")

For i = 0 To pageCount - 1
            RectLeft = 10
            RectTop = 10
            RectWidth = 100
            RectHeight = 100

            ' check the same text is extracted from returned coordinates
            extractor.SetExtractionArea RectLeft, RectTop, RectWidth, RectHeight
            ' extract text from given area
            extractedText = extractor.GetTextFromPage(i)

            ' insert rows
            ' Rows(1).Insert shift:=xlShiftDown
            ' write cell value
             Set TxtRng = ws.Range("A" & CStr(i + 2))
             TxtRng.Value = extractedText


Set extractor = Nothing

End Sub

Disclosure: I am related to ByteScout


Using Bytescout PDF Extractor SDK is a good option. It is cheap and gives plenty of PDF related functionality. One of the answers above points to the dead page Bytescout on GitHub. I am providing a relevant working sample to extract table from PDF. You may use it to export in any format.

Set extractor = CreateObject("Bytescout.PDFExtractor.StructuredExtractor")

extractor.RegistrationName = "demo"
extractor.RegistrationKey = "demo"

' Load sample PDF document
extractor.LoadDocumentFromFile "../../sample3.pdf"

For ipage = 0 To extractor.GetPageCount() - 1 

    ' starting extraction from page #"
    extractor.PrepareStructure ipage

    rowCount = extractor.GetRowCount(ipage)

    For row = 0 To rowCount - 1 
        columnCount = extractor.GetColumnCount(ipage, row)

        For col = 0 To columnCount-1
            WScript.Echo "Cell at page #" +CStr(ipage) + ", row=" & CStr(row) & ", column=" & _
                CStr(col) & vbCRLF & extractor.GetCellValue(ipage, row, col)

Many more samples available here: https://github.com/bytescout/pdf-extractor-sdk-samples


Since I do not prefer to rely on external libraries and/or other programs, I have extended your solution so that it works.
The actual change here is using the GetFromClipboard function instead of Paste which is mainly used to paste a range of cells.
Of course, the downside is that the user must not change focus or intervene during the whole process.

Dim pathPDF As String, textPDF As String
Dim openPDF As Object
Dim objPDF As MsForms.DataObject

pathPDF = "C:\some\path\data.pdf"
Set openPDF = CreateObject("Shell.Application")
openPDF.Open (pathPDF)
Application.Wait Now + TimeValue("00:00:2")
SendKeys "^a"
Application.Wait Now + TimeValue("00:00:2")
SendKeys "^c"
Application.Wait Now + TimeValue("00:00:1")

AppActivate ActiveWorkbook.Windows(1).Caption
textPDF = objPDF.GetText(1)
MsgBox textPDF

If you’re interested see my project in github.


To improve the solution of Slinky Sloth I had to add this beforere get from clipboard :

Set objPDF = New MSForms.DataObject

Sadly it didn’t worked for a pdf of 10 pages.


This doesn’t seem to work with the Adobe Type library. As soon as it gets to Open, I get a 429 error. Acrobat works fine though…