How to Convert PDF to Google Sheets in 5 Minutes [Easy]

Extracting data from PDF documents has been a tedious process in the past. But, now you can easily import the data into Google Docs and paste it over to Google Sheets in as little as a few clicks. First, you have to know what you’re doing, so read along with our guide to converting PDF to Google Sheets document below to learn how it works.

How to Convert PDF to Google Sheets

  1. Open Google Drive and click New.
  2. Upload the PDF file to Google Drive
  3. Open the File in Google Drive
  4. Click Open with Google Docs option.
  5. Select the data in Google Docs and copy it
  6. Open Google Sheets and Paste the data

Why It’s Difficult to Parse a PDF File

The PDF file format created by Adobe stands for Portable Document Format. Eventually, Adobe made it open source, and it became a prevalent method of sharing documents.

There are a couple of reasons why it’s difficult to parse a PDF file:

  • PDF files use a different system than word processors and spreadsheet programs to store the document’s data, meaning the file will be unreadable if converted to a text document.
  • PDF files lack a uniform format and cannot easily be edited.
  • Additionally, material saved in PDFs is by nature flat and unstructured.
  • Raw PDFs lack any sense of order or tags. A PDF only shows text or pixels on a 2D plane at predetermined locations.
  • There is no distinction between text, photos, tables, or other components in the PDF format. When data isn’t displayed in an organized, hierarchical way, it might be difficult to recognize or parse for programs like Google Sheets.
  • Large volumes of data, including attachments and rich media formats, may be stored in PDFs across numerous pages. Businesses frequently deal with many PDF documents solely because they are difficult to edit and are therefore safer than sending a text document.

How to Convert PDF to Google Sheets

There are several ways in which you can easily convert PDFs to Google Sheets. Let’s take a look at some of them.

Method 1: Convert PDF to Google Sheets Using Google Docs

This is arguably the fastest and easiest way to convert PDF to Sheets. Let’s take a look at the steps you need to follow to pull data from PDF to Google Sheets using Google docs:

Click New in Google Drive
  1. To import PDF to Sheets, first, we have to open the file using Google docs. To do this we will need to upload the file to Google Drive. On the main page, click on the New button in the top left corner of the window. This will open a dropdown menu.
Click File upload
  1. There, click on the File upload option. This will open the file browser on your computer, allowing you to choose the file. Clicking on the fill will automatically start the upload process.
Open with Google Docs
  1. Once done, double-click on the file. This will open a preview in the middle of the screen. Click on the Open with Google Docs option in the middle of the screen.
  2. You will then be taken to Google Docs, which will open the file like it normally would when editing. You may have to double-check the data as there are bound to be some errors. After you’re done, click to select the data and use the Ctrl + C (Cmd + C on macOS) shortcut to copy the data.
Copy the data to a Google Sheet
  1. Once the data is copied, open the spreadsheet where you wish to paste in the data and click on the first cell, which should contain the data. To paste in the data, use the Ctrl + V (Cmd + V on macOS) keyboard shortcut, and the data will be pasted into the spreadsheet.

The data copied from the Docs page will be used to fill in the cells in your spreadsheet. Once finished, feel free to edit and format it like you would in a regular spreadsheet.

One thing to note is that pasting the data will only work properly if it is in the correct format in your Google Docs document. Double-check the data for accuracy and proper formatting before pasting it into your spreadsheet.

Related Reading: Insert A Google Sheet into a Google Doc

Method 2: How to Add PDF to Google Sheet Using CSV

If the information in your PDF file is plain text, as described in the first technique, you can run into issues. You should beforehand convert it to CSV to avoid this. You can directly move the information to Google Sheets once it is in CSV format. This requires an additional step, but it is well worthwhile investing the time and energy. Here are the steps you need to follow on how to convert PDF to Google Sheet using CSV:

  1. To import PDF to Sheets, first, we have to open the file using Google docs. To do this, first, we will need to upload the file to Google Drive. On the main page, click on the New button in the top left corner of the window. This will open a dropdown menu.
  2. There, click on the File upload option. This will open the file browser on your computer, allowing you to choose the file. Clicking on the fill will automatically start the upload process.
  3. Once done, double-click on the file. This will open a preview in the middle of the screen. Click on the Open with Google Docs option in the middle of the screen.
  4. When the data is in raw format, we can convert it into a CSV format by changing the spaces into commas to separate the values. To do this, we will use the Google Docs Find and replace feature. To open it, click on Edit and then on Find and Replace.
Use find and replace to convert to CSV
  1. In the window that shows up in the middle of the screen, type a space in the Find textbox and a comma in the Replace with text box.
  2. Click on the Replace or Replace All button to replace the spaces with commas. In this case, we don’t need to split up the names, so we will go back and add a space and remove the comma between first and last names.
  3. Once you’re done making the changes, click on download and then choose to download it as plain text. Once the file is downloaded, open it locally on your computer and save it as a .csv file.
Open the data in Google Sheets
  1. Now all you have to do is open the CSV file in Google Sheets, which will open as a properly formatted spreadsheet.

Method 3: Using Online Tools

The final method you can use is an online converter to automatically convert PDF data. There are plenty of online PDF converters that you can find with a quick and simple Google search.

Some good examples include PDFFiller.

Another useful online tool you can use is

  1. Go to PDFFiller and sign in.
  2. Click Browse for a Document on Your Computer.
convert pdf to google sheets with an app
  1. Find your document on your device and upload it.
  2. You can edit your table if you want to
  3. Click the download icon to save the to your drive.
Download the file
  1. Choose a plan and start a free month’s trial.
  2. In the Save as option, choose the format and destination as your Google Drive.
Choose the correct file type
  1. Click Save As and go to your Google Drive.
Open with Google Sheets
  1. Right-click on the file and choose Open with > Google Sheets.

The file will be imported into a new spreadsheet in Google Sheets, and you can edit it as you wish.

The downside to this method is that most of the online tools are not free and require a monthly subscription. You can use the free trials, but once they’re over, you’ll have to pay.

How Modern PDF Documents Are Parsed

Most modern PDF converters use a three-step process when parsing the data from a PDF document. The first process is data cleaning, where the artifacts are cleaned out to make it easy for the extraction tool to get the data.

The second part is data extraction, where the program extracts the data using methods like Optical Character Recognition (OCR) and pattern recognition using AI.

The last part is post-processing, where the data converts into the format needed, such as PDF to Google Sheets document. Let’s take a look at these processes in detail.

Data Cleaning

It will be simpler for a machine learning model to collect or gather data from your PDF, the cleaner it appears. For example, the converter’s efficiency may be impacted if the document has scan marks from the scanning process.

You can use filters, skew correction, and binarization to perform noise removal. Once the cleaning process completes, the program can run the optical character recognition software to extract the data correctly.

Data Extraction

This is where most of the data processing happens. Machine learning models including optical character recognition, pattern recognition, and machine learning algorithms can extract the data. As the algorithm uses machine learning at the core, you can also train advanced programs by providing custom data to fit the use case of your particular company.

Post Processing

Once the data is extracted, it is still in its raw form, meaning there’s no formatting. In this step, the AI applies user-defined parsing rules to the data while also converting the data into the required format, such as JSON, XML, and CSV. In the case of Google Sheets, proper formatting is also done here, such as creating rows and columns in tables or dividing data into paragraphs and headings.

Which Type of Data Can Be Extracted From PDF

PDF converters  can be used to recognize as well as extract the following type of data in a PDF document:

  • Headers
  • Text
  • Tables
  • Lists
  • Key value pairs
  • Images

Some more advanced PDF converters can also extract the objects, trailer, cross-reference table, and metadata that may include the authors, dates, reference numbers, and information about the embedded images.

Use Cases for PDF Converters

PDF converters are widely used in cases where you need to extract the data from a document intelligently, and the accuracy of the extracted data is essential. Most organizations often use PDF parsers to ensure smooth document management workflow. Here are some of the use cases for PDF converters:

  • Receipt Scanners: You can extract crucial data from the item list in receipts, purchase orders, invoices, expense receipts, work orders, checks, bills, and more.
  • Invoice Automation: This feature allows you to extract the invoices’ data intelligently using AI.
  • Verification of ID Cards: You can also scan a person’s ID card to extract important information, such as name, address, date of birth, and other details.
  • Extracting Tables: PDF parsers can also capture crucial information from tables in a document.
  • Resume Data: You can also use PDF parsers to get the relevant data from resumes.

Related Reading: Convert Excel to Google Sheets

Ways to Measure Performance of PDF Converters

Four basic things to note will indicate the performance of a PDF converter tool. These are:

  • Table Extraction Accuracy: The accuracy and speed of table extraction from a PDF document is a crucial consideration when evaluating the performance of the PDF converter because most PDF converters will be used for invoice processing or similar jobs.
  • Multiple Languages: It is common for big businesses to have invoices in many languages. Either the PDF convertor should allow multilingual parsing out of the box, or it should provide users the ability to train the model with their own data.
  • Software Integration: The best PDF converter should be an easy-to-add plug-and-play addition to your current document process. The program should support integration with well-known accounting software.
  • Easy-to-Use: A lot of the time, the PDF converter will be used by users who aren’t that well-versed in the technological world. Therefore, it is vital to have a software solution that is easy to learn with minimum technical knowledge.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can You Upload a PDF to Google Sheets?

There are multiple ways in which you can import PDF to Google Sheets. The first one is by importing the PDF into Google docs and copying the values into Google Sheets. The second method to import PDF into Google Sheets is by opening the file in Google docs and then using the find and replace feature to change the spaces into commas. You can then convert this into a CSV file which you can then import into Google Sheets.

Can I Scan a Document Into Google Sheets?

You may upload a PDF to Google Sheets in a variety of ways. You can add the scanned document as an image in a cell or you can turn it from a PDF into readable data. To make the data readable by Google Sheets, transfer the values from the PDF into Sheets after importing them into Google Docs.

The second way to import a PDF file into Google Sheets is to open the document in Google Docs and then use the search and replace tool to replace any spaces with commas. Then, this may be transformed into a CSV file and loaded into Google Sheets.

Can You Convert PDF to Spreadsheet?

There are some expensive programs out there that will do a decent job of converting data from a PDF file into a spreadsheet. Yet, you can simply upload your PDF to Google Drive, open it with Google Docs and copy and paste the data into a spreadsheet instead. You can then convert the Google Sheets file to Excel if necessary.

Final Word on the Converting PDF to Google Sheets

While the above methods we discussed are very good at converting PDF to Google Sheets, they aren’t perfect. This is because PDFs are hard to extract or edit data by design. Make sure to double check all the data is in the right spot in your spreadsheet after you import it.


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