Tag Archives: Adobe Acrobat Pro 9.0

How to Copy a Table From a PDF using Adobe Acrobat Pro 9.0

Today I faced a really frustrating technology challenge (i.e. huge time waster) and the irony is that my conundrum was a direct result of using a productivity tip. Let me explain:

I use keyboard command shortcuts to cut (Ctrl + X), copy (Ctrl + C), select all (Ctrl + A) and paste (Ctrl + V) text because my hands do not have to leave the keyboard to reach over to the mouse to perform a right click to open a contextual menu.

I’ve memorized so many keyboard command shortcuts that I can’t remember the last time I had to open a context menu… until today.

I should explain that I am a self-taught Adobe Acrobat Pro 9.0 user. If I can’t figure it out after a little trial and error exploration, I hit Google and YouTube for answers. This is often because I don’t possess the correct vocabulary to do a search in the program’s help files.

The Situation: I wanted to copy a table with its content out of a PDF into an Excel document.

The PDF looked like this:

After highlighting the text within the table I copied the text using a keyboard command (Ctrl + C). When I pasted the text (Ctrl + V) into a Word document or an Excel document, the text would not retain the formatting and looked like this:

I wanted the formatting to retain the columns of the table to look like this:

Google searches for “how to copy a table from PDF” resulted in answers such as “Click the arrow on the “Basic” toolbar and select “Select Table” from the drop-down menu.” This answer is not relevant for Adobe Acrobat Pro 9.0 as this basic toolbar does not exist in this version of the program.

The alternative suggested importing a table from a PDF into Excel by copying data in the table and pasting it into MS Word and converting it to a table by separating the text using the other option with a space. This option is time consuming and doesn’t work when a table has multiple words in a column. In fact the result is a complete mess:

By this point I was frustrated. There had to be a simple solution, but Google was not delivering the results I wanted. I was ready to give up. It seemed like I would have to waste a ton of time cutting and pasting each individual cell from the PDF table into my Excel spreadsheet by hand.

Fortunately sheer stubbornness did not allow me to accept my presumed fate and I decided to click around a little more before I gave up.

The solution came to me when I accidentally hit the right button on the mouse with the side of my hand. It was then that I discovered an option on the contextual menu that I did not realize existed- the “Copy as Table” button.

This feature allowed me to bypass MS Word completely and paste the data directly into MS Excel with formatting intact.

I was overjoyed to say the least. I hope this one-click solution is useful for some of your future projects.

-Kelly Marshall,
Director of Communications,
Adobe Acrobat Pro Training @
Sector Learning Solutions