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Advanced Data Tutorial: Converting PDFs To Spreadsheets

As we’ve all discovered, many government agencies prefer releasing records in portable document format, or PDF. Sometimes that’s helpful, for example with narrative text files. But not so much for data.

This tutorial will show you one free way to convert PDFs with tabular data into spreadsheets. The data I’ll use comes from a PDF I converted recently: The number of sworn police officers for the top 50 municipalities in the United States. Here’s what the file looks like:

You can’t copy/paste this text into a spreadsheet, unfortunately, and you don’t want to waste time or risk a correction by typing the data manually. So let’s convert it.

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