Are there any open source libraries that support table identification & extraction?

By this I mean:

  1. Identify a table structure exists
  2. Classify the table from its contents
  3. Extract data from the table in a useful output format e.g. JSON / CSV etc.

I have looked through similar questions on this topic and found the following:

  • PDFMiner which addresses problem 3, but it seems the user is required to specify to PDFMiner where a table structure exists for each table (correct me if I’m wrong)
  • pdf-table-extract which attempts to address problem 1 but according to the To-Do list, cannot currently identify tables that are separated by whitespace. This is a problem as all tables in my PDFs are separated by whitespace!

Currently, I am thinking that I would have to spend a lot of time developing a Machine Learning solution to identify table structures from PDFs. Therefore, any alternative approaches would be more than welcome!

After many fruitful hours of exploring OCR libraries, bounding boxes and clustering algorithms – I found a solution so simple it makes you want to cry!

I hope you are using Linux;

pdftotext -layout NAME_OF_PDF.pdf


Now you have a nice text file with all the information lined up in nice columns, now it is trivial to format into a csv etc..

It is for times like this that I love Linux, these guys came up with AMAZING solutions to everything, and put it there for FREE!

You should definitely have a look at this answer of mine:

and also have a look at all the links included therein.

Tabula/TabulaPDF is currently the best table extraction tool that is available for PDF scraping.

I’d just like to add to the very helpful answer from Kurt Pfeifle – there is now a Python wrapper for Tabula, and this seems to work very well so far:

This will convert your PDF table to a Pandas data frame. You can also set the area in x,y co-ordinates which is obviously very handy for irregular data.