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How to Indirectly Edit PDF Documents in Excel


It's always frustrating when we receive PDF-based reports that we need to analyze in Excel. In the past you may have purchased one of many third-party tools that enable you to extract data from PDF files, but the process is much easier if you have Microsoft Word 2013 or later. To be clear, you won't be able to edit PDF files directly in Microsoft Excel, but as you'll see you can open PDF documents in Word, and then copy and paste the resulting data into Microsoft Excel.

To open a PDF in Microsoft Word:

  1. Choose File.
  2. Click Open.
  3. Click Browse (in Word 2013 click Computer, and then Browse).
  4. The Open dialog box shows Word documents and PDF documents together, so there's no need to change the File Filter specifically to PDF. Double-click the PDF file of your choice to skip the Open button.
  5. A prompt may appear to alert you that it could take a while to convert the PDF file. Click OK if prompted.
  6. Once the document has been converted, look for a 4-pointed arrow at the top left-hand corner of the document. Click this icon to select the entire contents of the document, or press Ctrl-A. A third approach is to choose Select in the Editing section of Word's Home menu, and then choose Select All.
  7. Choose Copy on Excel's Home menu, or press Ctrl-C.
  8. In Excel place your cursor in the cell where you'd like the report to be pasted.
  9. Click the bottom portion of the Paste command on Excel's Home menu.
  10. Two options will appear:
  • Keep Source Formatting: This option pastes fonts, bold, underlines and other formatting derived from the PDF document.
  • Match Destination Formatting: If you're pasting into a blank Excel worksheet, then only the text will be pasted into Excel.

Depending upon the nature of your PDF document and how you paste, sometimes non-text artifacts such as dividing lines or pictures of the areas of the document that couldn't be converted to text will appear as floating objects on the Excel spreadsheet. To eliminate these all at once:

  1. Choose Find & Select from Excel's Home menu.
  2. Choose Go To Special.
  3. Double-click on Objects (doing so enables you to skip clicking the OK button).
  4. Press Delete to remove all objects from the worksheet or click OK if Excel reports no objects were found.

To save a document back as a PDF from Excel, you can change the Save As Type to PDF, or else choose File, Export, and then Create PDF/XPS. Conversely, within Microsoft Word you can round-trip a PDF document, meaning open it in Word, make changes to the document, and then simply choose File, and then Save (or press Ctrl-S) to save the document.

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Kim & Lee
Kim & Lee, LLP
2305 W. 190th St. Suite 100
Torrance, CA 90504
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