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Office 365 Excel Users Can Now Import Table Data from PDF Files

Microsoft announced this week that's it's now possible for Office 365 users to import table data from Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF) files into the Microsoft Excel spreadsheet program.

The ability to grab table data from PDF files seems like it should already have been there in Excel, but it's just rolling out now. Users with paid Office 365 subscriptions whose organizations opted to receive so-called "Current Channel" feature updates are starting to get access to the Excel PDF table import feature.

Microsoft recently revamped its Office 365 feature-update channel names. The Current Channel signifies that Office 365 feature updates will arrive on a monthly basis. It's these Current Channel users that will see the PDF table data import feature first, prior to a larger and more general rollout.

Technically, Microsoft built a "PDF data connector" for Excel, which lets end users import PDF table data using the Data tab in Excel. They select "From File" and then "From PDF" to import data.

After that's done, end users will see a so-called "Navigator window." It lets them select from a list of tables within the PDF document, identified by page number.

Users can select "one or multiple elements to import into Excel," the announcement explained. It's also possible to use the "Transform Data" function to clean the data first.

Microsoft's Power Query Editor provides a graphical user interface for prepping and transforming such data. This tool also can be used for importing PDF table data that span multiple pages.

Enabling PDF table imports had been "one of the top requests" of Excel users, Microsoft's announcement explained. Microsoft also has an optical character recognition import capability in Excel for grabbing data from photos, but it's just available now for the mobile app versions. Another capability Microsoft has been working on is to make Excel recognize data by topics, such as displaying nutritional information for food items.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.

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