How to Convert a PDF to Google Sheets

The ability to convert a PDF to Google Sheets is an incredibly useful skill, and we will cover three different methods in this tutorial.

One of the most common formats for distributing reports is the PDF format. They usually have tables that contain important data for analysis:

Demo PDF file with chart

However, copying the table directly into Google Sheets doesn't work:

Copying PDF directly to Google Sheets does not work

Is there still a way to convert your PDF to Google Sheets? Of course! In fact, you have three choices. Scroll down to learn these three methods and choose which one you think is the best for you. 

Why Can't I Paste PDF document into Google Sheets?

Unfortunately, this task is not as simple as pressing Copy + Paste.

PDF stands for portable document format, which means that it carries instructions for how to display a sequence of characters on a screen. This makes the PDF format versatile and useable for many different operating systems, but it also makes it difficult to easily transfer PDF data (text, charts, figures) into systems that do not have a PDF reader.

To convert a PDF to Google Sheets, the computer must extract the data from the instructions that the PDF contains. Data extraction takes place when one converts a PDF to Google Docs, which allows the computer to turn the PDF file into a format that Google Drive programs can understand.

Another option is to convert PDF to an Excel file, which you can then copy paste into your Google Sheets. We will show you how to convert PDF to Google Docs and then to Google Sheets because it does not require and outside converter.

From there, one can easily copy and paste between Google Docs and Google Sheets because they are similar systems. However, this disconnect between the PDF file format and the format that Google Sheets can recognize prevents the simple copy paste method of converting PDF to Google Sheets.  

How to Convert PDF to Google Sheets

Method 1: Convert PDF Files to Google Sheets with Google Docs

This first method will first convert your PDF to Google Docs, from where you can copy and paste the document into your spreadsheet. Due to the incompatibility between PDF and Google Sheets, you may not perfectly duplicate the table that is in the PDF. 

1. In your Google Drive, go to the upper-left corner then click New.

2. Click File upload, then select your file.

Google Docs File Upload GIF

Alternatively, you can just drag-and-drop the file to Google Drive to upload it.

3. Open the PDF file.

4. Click Open with, then select Google Docs.

Open PDF files With Google Docs

5. The PDF file is converted to Google Docs.

Table added to Google Docs

6. Copy the table from Google Docs and paste it into your Google Sheets spreadsheet.

You have now copied the table!

Table copied into Google Sheets

The conversion process is not perfect, but it significantly reduces the work you need to do in transferring data. 

Method 2: Converting PDF Files to Google Sheet with PDF to CSV converter

Another method involves changing a PDF file to a file format that can be imported directly to Google Sheets. One such format is the comma-separated values (CSV) format. There are online converters you can use to transform PDF to CSV file such as

1.  Convert the PDF file to CSV using one of the available converters online.

Insert your PDF document into the PDF converter and click convert. Most PDF converters allow you to choose a format, so make sure that you choose CSV.

After converting the PDF document, download the resulting file to your computer. We will need this new file in the next steps.

2. In Google Sheets, click File then Import.


3. Drag your CSV file into the box or select a file from your device.

A box labeled Import file will appear. You can drag the comma separated value file to it or click Select a file from your device and look for it. 

This will be the file that you created in step 1 and downloaded to your computer.

Drag and drop CSV file from converter app

4. Specify your import settings, then press Import Data.

Once the CSV file is uploaded, settings will appear before importing the data. We recommend setting the parameters for the Import location to Insert new sheet(s) and the separator type to Detect automatically.

Import file options
Insert new sheet option
Detect separator automatically

The table is now uploaded!

Converted table

Again, the format may not reflect what it originally looks like, but you can easily format the data to your liking without having to manually enter it. 

Method 3: Use Third Party Applications for PDF to Google Sheets Conversion

Google Sheets add-ons add more functionality to your spreadsheet, and importing PDF tables to your spreadsheet is one of them. One of the most helpful add-ons for this task is called PDF Table Importer. 

This PDF to Google Sheets converter is useful because it is built into Google Sheets. Instead of needing to use Google Sheets converters online, this add-on works within your Google Sheets document.

1. Click Extensions, then select Add-ons, then choose Get add-ons.

Extensions->Add-ons->Get add-ons
Adding add-ons GIF

2. Find PDF Table Importer. 

Type the name into the search bar and choose the proper result.

3. Click Install.

PDF Table Importer

Follow the subsequent instructions for installing the add-on to convert PDF files.

4. After installing the add-on, click Extensions, then select PDF Table Importer, then choose Import Tables (Window).

Import Table add-on option
Using PDF Table Importer GIF

5. Click Open file. Find and select the PDF file that contains the table.

Button to open PDF file in add-on

6. Click Select, then select the table by dragging a blue rectangle above it. 

Drag a blue rectangle around table to convert PDF

The blue rectangle represents the part of the PDF that will be converted into Google Sheets.

7. Click Extract.

Extraction process GIF to convert PDF to Google Sheets

The add-on will convert PDF to Google Sheets, then the table will be added to your active sheet!

how to insert pdf into google sheets

The Next Step: From PDF file to Google Sheets to Lido spreadsheet

One of the benefits of converting PDF files to Google Sheets is that you can next import your Google Sheets file directly into a Lido file.

From there, you can build custom apps and dashboards from the data!

To import a Google Sheets into Lido, simply follow these steps:

  1. In an open Lido spreadsheet, click the Import button in the upper left-hand corner.
Import button in Lido
  1. Choose the option to import from Google Sheets.
Import option in Lido
  1. In the pop up box, paste the URL of the Google Sheets that contains your converted PDF.

Ensure that the sharing permissions of your Google Sheets are set to allow anyone to access the sheet.

Pop up to insert link
  1. Click Import.

Voila! After you convert PDF to Google Sheets, converting your Google Sheets to Lido is a breeze!

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