PDF files data integration

Everything You Need to Know About PDF Data Extraction 

Whether you’re looking to extract data, tables, images, or other content from your PDF files, you need to ensure the tool you are using has the capabilities necessary for accurate and complete extraction. 

In this guide, you’ll learn what features to look for when choosing a PDF data extraction tool. 

What to Look for When Extracting PDF Data 

A PDF data extraction tool can be used to extract the following three things from your PDF files:

Table Extraction

Manual PDF table extraction can be a daunting task. That’s why you should choose a solution that automatically extracts and converts tables in PDF. Plus, confirm how many different formats it can tackle and if it can also extract tables from scanned PDF files.

Text Extraction

Manual text data extraction takes a lot of time and resources. This is especially true for the healthcare and finance industry, where repetition is the norm and out-of-the-box thinking is not welcomed. 

Image Extraction

Data extraction from professional reports involves images, graphics, or even scanned content. For example, in an e-Learning institute, whenever a new student is enrolled, all his education records are digitized and put into PDFs. Your data extraction tool should be capable of extracting data from these PDF image files while retaining formatting.

Data Extraction | Data Management Solutions | Astera Software

Source: Astera Centerprise

6 Things to Consider in a PDF Data Extraction Tool

When choosing a PDF data extraction software, keep the following considerations in mind: 

  • Ensure Optical Character Recognition (OCR) is supported

Choose a software that can extract images along with text. Opt for an OCR-enabled PDF extractor that’s capable of implementing accurate OCR image processing along with maintaining text within PDFs as pure text output for optimal data extraction.

  • Multi-lingual support

Your PDF documents may contain multiple languages which could be challenging for many tools to process. For instance, subsidiaries working in multiple countries usually have forms in the same format but different languages. Now when they combine, these multilingual forms don’t work. Most PDF extractors now use API by Google to auto convert that data and extract relevant info. So make sure your PDF data extraction solution can tackle documents containing multiple languages, leveraging complex extraction capabilities.

  • Advanced table extraction

Many PDF data extraction tools find it difficult to process varied table formats. Plus, you need to correctly extract data cells and link to all relevant headers, units of measure, and in-text references. Moreover, you need to identify the border and the cell structure for each document table. So, make sure that your solution can achieve accurate data extraction from these tables.

  • Workflow automation

Your chosen tool should support workflow automation for a routine data extraction job and allow setting time- or event-based triggers to run the job at specific intervals or every time an unstructured data file of a specific template is received.

  • Compatibility with formats 

The tool should offer compatibility with formats such as RTF, XML, HTML, SFTP files. For example, XML is gaining popularity in clinical trial research as a means of data exchange. Whereas, RTF is used when working with Microsoft files and HTML when working with web-based files. So, your PDF data extraction tool should be able to seamlessly convert your data from PDF into any of these formats

  • PDF to Excel Conversion 

Often, businesses need to extract data from PDF files and import this data into Excel for analysis. So, choose a tool that supports quick PDF to Excel conversion for all formats (such as a CSV, TSV, or JSON file).

Best Tools for PDF Data Extraction

Looking for the best tools to automate your PDF data extraction? Here are the top 3 tools:

  1. Astera ReportMiner

Astera ReportMiner is a powerful data extraction tool that swiftly extracts the meaningful info and insights concealed within your unstructured data. You can design workflows to orchestrate the entire extraction process, all the way to writing data to the destination of your choice.

  1. Nitro Pro

Nitro Pro is a great tool for editing and converting PDFs into useful formats. Whether you frequently work in Word documents, Excel spreadsheets, or PowerPoint presentations, Nitro Pro can quickly convert your PDF into an editable, formatted Microsoft Office file.However, the Nitro Pro desktop application is incompatible with Mac computers.

  1. Zanran

Zanran’s data-point extraction technology allows you to extract tables automatically from a PDF and transfer them to Excel. To ensure a very high degree of quality for your table extraction, Zanran has also developed its visual PDF Workbench to facilitate and speed up the checking process. On the downside, Zanran doesn’t seem to be suitable for complex datasets, especially for unruled tables.

Wrap Up

PDF data extraction can be a very tedious task for any business that receives large volumes of PDF documents. This is especially the case for documents containing important info such as statistical tables, cross-sectional, or time-series data, or if the PDF data extraction process needs to be done on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis.

Also, many PDF data extraction tools aren’t compatible with data warehouses and Online Analytical Processing (OLAP) tools. So, you have to manually extract data and then send it to the tools– which can be both time-consuming and error-prone. However, using Astera ReportMiner, you can conveniently extract all your PDF data without losing the formatting.

Sharjeel Ashraf

Sharjeel loves to write about all things data integration, data management and ETL processes. In his free time, he is on the road or working on some cool project.

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