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PDF Converter Elite Review: PDF to Excel and Back Again

I was recently asked to review a new piece of software that has just hit the market: PDF Converter Elite. The software enables you to take a regular PDF file and convert it into a wide variety of file formats: everything from Word and Excel file formats to HTML, Open Office, and even AutoCAD. It also includes functionality for taking any of those files and converting them into PDF files. So, it’s a PDF converter that converts both ways.

How Good is PDF Converter Elite?

However, the one aspect of this program that I was most interested in was the ability to take a PDF file and convert it into an Excel file. I have frequently encountered situations where I am presented with a large spreadsheet that has been saved as a PDF (and has upwards of 20 columns or more and thousands of lines), and I need to extract the data from the PDF in order to analyze or otherwise manipulate it. Typically, this involves a lot of copying and pasting and wasting a lot of time splicing or merging mis-pasted columns and correcting formatting problems. PDF Converter Elite claims to be able to make that process much cleaner and easier, so I was eager to put the software to the test.

Because I really wanted to test the functionality of the program, I found a large, publicly-available PDF file with a couple dozen columns and a couple thousand lines. This is what the file looked like before I loaded it into the PDF Converter software:

PDF Converter PDF

Then I loaded the PDF file into the PDF Converter software. The interface is pretty simple to use. You simply click the “Open” button and navigate to wherever the file is saved on your computer. The file will then load inside the program.

PDF Converter View

From here, you simply click the button at the top of the screen that corresponds to the type of file you need. One useful feature of this program is that it allows you a lot of flexibility over what data you are pulling out of the file. You have the option of converting the entire file, converting selected pages of the file, or simply converting a highlighted selection of a particular page. So, if you only need to convert the first 20 lines of page 1, you would simply click and highlight those rows and then select the “Select Area” option in the conversion settings. Once you are ready to go, click the yellow “Convert” button.

In my test, the conversion process was relatively fast. The processing time varies with the size of the file you are converting, but even with larger files, PDF Converter Elite processed the files within about 2-3 minutes. Additionally, as you can see in the screenshot below, the program did a pretty good job of separating all of the rows and columns properly and formatting the data in a way that it can be quickly used and analyzed.

PDF Converter Excel File

One minor thing to note is that the program imports all of the data in the Text format, but it’s fairly easy to adjust the formatting on numeric columns. However, given the amount of time and frustration that this program will save you if you are handed a spreadsheet saved as a PDF, this is a small price to pay. I also tested its ability to convert PDF files into Word documents, and the results were also impressive. The program did a good job of preserving all of the formatting and tables within the original document and exporting them into Word. After the conversion, the original PDF file and the final Word document looked identical.

As far as cost goes, a single-issue license will cost you $99.95, but if you do a lot of work with PDFs, this program could be a significant time-saver.

Rating Scale
Ease of Use: 10
Speed: 8
Flexibility: 9
Cost: 7
Overall: 8.5

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Note: No compensation was provided for this review. All opinions are my own and the result of my own, direct, personal use of the software.

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How to Customize the Excel Ribbon

At first glance, the Excel Ribbon can be quite intimidating. If you’re not exactly sure where a command or function is located, trying to find it in the Ribbon can be difficult. The default settings provide for at least 8 different tabs, dozens of different command groups, and over 100 separate commands. If you don’t know how to organize the Excel Ribbon, attempting to use it can be frustrating. Luckily, customizing the Ribbon to your own unique needs is fairly easy. Once you know how to create your own tabs and command groups, you can redesign the Excel Ribbon in a way that best suits your needs.

Making the Excel Ribbon Your Own

To get started, go to the File Tab and scroll down to “Options”.

Excel Ribbon Options

In the Options dialogue box that opens, click the Customize Ribbon link.
Customize Excel Ribbon

On the left-hand side of the window is a list of all the commands available in Excel (which you can sort using the drop down box at the top of the list). On the right-hand side is a list of what’s currently showing on the Excel Ribbon. Click the plus sign next to one of the tab names to open up the groups in that tab, and then click the plus sign next to one of the command group names to open up the list of commands in that group (as in the screenshot below).

Customize Excel Ribbon Window

You can add and remove groups and commands by using the two buttons in the center of the window. You can also create your own tabs and groups on the Excel Ribbon using the buttons below the list on the right-hand side of the window. To create a new Tab, simply click “New Tab”. A new tab will then be inserted in the Tab list.

Customize Excel Ribbon New Tab

Right-click the new tab in the list and click “Rename”. You can now call your new tab whatever you want (I named mine “My Tab”). You can do the same thing with the new group that was inserted in your new tab (I named my new group “My Group”). If you want to add another group to your tab, simply select the tab you want to add the group to and, click “New Group”.

Once you have your custom tabs and groups established, you can begin adding commands to your custom Excel Ribbon. Keep in mind that commands can only be added to groups (not tabs). To get started, simply find the command (or commands) you want to add in the list on the left, highlight them, and then highlight the group on the right that you want to add them to. Then click “Add”.

So, if you wanted to add the Copy command to your new My Group group, select “Copy”, then select “My Group”, then click “Add”.

Customize Excel Ribbon Add Command

Your Excel Ribbon should now look something like this:

Customize Excel Ribbon final

That’s all there is to it! You can now add/remove commands, groups, and tabs and customize the Excel Ribbon in any way you please.

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The Microsoft Certification: Proving Your Knowledge

Obtaining a Microsoft certification is one of the easiest and most recognized ways of demonstrating your mastery of Excel, Word, PowerPoint, or any other Microsoft Office product. The Microsoft certification program is administered by Microsoft and uses a standardized curriculum and test that is recognized all over the world. With an official Microsoft certification in hand, you can confidently showcase your mastery of any Microsoft Office product to your employers and co-workers.

How Do You Obtain a Microsoft Certification?

On its website, Microsoft lists all of the topics that are covered in each of the different exams they offer. The page for the Microsoft Excel Specialist test is a good example. While there are multiple ways to prepare for each certification test, the best way to prepare for and pass the test is to take classes from a reputable training provider who has designed a training program around the skills tested on the certification exam. Once you have completed training and studying for the test, you simply register to take the test through Certiport and schedule an exam for a time that best fits your schedule.

What Microsoft Certifications Are Available?

Most Microsoft Office products have only one certification: the Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS) Certification. However, Excel and Word are different. There are actually two Microsoft certifications you can earn for these two products: the regular Microsoft Office Specialist Certification and a special Microsoft Office Specialist Expert Certification. The Expert Microsoft certification demonstrates a high-level (or power-user level) familiarity with the program. Users with an Expert Microsoft certification know all of the ins and outs of the program and are able to accomplish very complicated tasks with the programs. In order to obtain this certification, it is usually necessary to take several additional classes to obtain the appropriate mastery and knowledge of the program.

Finally, if you’re able to demonstrate your proficiency in several Microsoft Office products by obtaining the appropriate Microsoft certifications in several different programs (Word, Excel, SharePoint, Outlook, etc.), you can earn the Microsoft Office Specialist Master Certification. With this Microsoft certification in hand, you have demonstrated that you are fully functional in most Microsoft Office products and are able to complete complex and integrated tasks using multiple programs in the Office Suite. This is one of the most difficult, but also most impressive Microsoft certifications you can earn.

Microsoft Office Master Specialist Microsoft Certification

How Do You Get Started?

Earning a Microsoft certification provides you with valuable job skills and also allows you to easily showcase those job skills to current or future employers. The best way to get started is to sign up for our free email newsletter, where you’ll get valuable Microsoft Office tips and tricks right in your inbox. You’ll also get exclusive offers for our upcoming training classes and webinars!