Convert PDF to JSON – Turn PDF Documents Into Structured JSON Data Objects

Without a doubt, PDF (Portable Document Format) became the de-facto exchange format for business documents. But PDF is “only” a replacement for paper, and businesses around the globe have a hard time accessing essential data that is trapped inside their PDF documents. On the other hand, JSON has probably become the most popular data exchange format for syncing data between two web applications.

That being said, wouldn’t it be great to be able to convert PDF to JSON data objects automatically? What if it would be possible to leverage data trapped inside PDF documents to automate business processes?

This post will show you how you can do precisely that with Docparser. Docparser allows you to convert PDF to JSON data which can then automate your document-based workflows.

Docparser is a PDF to JSON converter which you can use without writing a single line of code. In addition, Docparser comes with a powerful Optical Character Recognition (OCR) engine offering zonal OCR data extraction, various advanced data extraction filters, as well as powerful cloud integrations. If this sounds interesting to you, a walk of our app with a free account is the place to start!

Convert PDF to JSON

Convert your PDFs to JSON without writing a single link of code.

Try Docparser for free. No credit card required. 

Converting PDF files to JSON is not an easy task.

Converting PDFs into JSON can be challenging depending on the complexity of the PDF layout and the types of data you are looking to extract.

The biggest reason for this is the lack of hierarchical structure elements (like for example <h1> and <p> in HTML) in the PDF specification. A headline inside a PDF document is just “normal” text in larger font size. And tables are just a bunch of text fields placed at certain positions inside the document. Apart from the visual representation, nothing inside a PDF document would allow the software to “understand” the represented data.

How do I Convert PDF to JSON?

  1. Sign up for a Docparser account.
  2. Import your business documents.
  3. Train Docparser to convert PDF to JSON based on your documents.
  4. Transfer the converted data where you want.

What is a PDF?

what is a pdf

Invented by Adobe in the 1990s to share information easily between users with varying computer operating systems, PDF stands for Portable Document Format. They are one of the most commonly used file formats today. For example, you may have used Adobe Acrobat Reader in the past to sign or read necessary tax forms or perhaps download a research paper. Files ending in .pdf are PDF files. 

PDF files can contain images, text, interactive buttons, hyperlinks, embedded fonts, videos, and more. Perhaps you’ve encountered them with eBooks, research papers, product manuals, job applications, IRS forms, scanned documents, and various other documents available in the format. You can even save web pages as a PDF to reference later. 

Here at Docparser, we conceptualize it like this: picture a folder. Inside your folder are file blueprints like fonts, graphics, and text. These are the building blocks of a PDF. 

PDFs don’t rely on the software that created them, and no matter what, they look the same on any device or browser. 

This brings us to our next point: 

Why use PDF files?

why use pdfs

PDF is a universal reader. However, if you’re a Windows user and turn in a paper with a .docx file extension, your Macbook-owning professor or colleague may be upset as the formatting isn’t easily converted over to .pages (the Apple equivalent to .doc or .docx. Of course, when sending a document over, you want the layout to be preserved, and that’s what PDFs do, but we’ll get to that more in a bit. 

PDFs are primarily meant for viewing and not editing. Therefore, preserving a document is of the utmost importance for a PDF. In addition, the document is shareable and ensures consistency across all mediums from iPhone to Android, Macbook, and Surface Pro.

PDFs are desirable in the following situations:

  • College students turn in essays online, sharing them with other classmates or their professors.
  • Researchers keep copies of their past articles.
  • Companies wanting to keep records of bank statements
  • Anyone trying to create e-signable document

What is JSON?

what is json

JSON stands for JavaScript Object Notation. It’s a text-based format for representing structured data based on JavaScript. Existing as a string, it’s helpful when you need data transmitted across a network. Though it resembles JavaScript, it can be used independently, and other programming languages can parse and generate JSON.

JSON Example

This is an example of a JSON string:

{“name”: “Noah”,”age”: 85, “hair”: null}

This defines three properties:

  • name
  • age
  • Hair

As you see, each property has a value. The properties are wrapped in double quotation marks, with the colon separating the key and the value. 

Spacing also doesn’t matter in a JSON file as this is the same as the example above: 


  “name”: “Jeffrey”

  “age”: 85

  “hair”: null


Parsing JSON strings with a Javascript program allows you to access the data as an object.

let personName = obj.name;

let personName = obj.name;

PDF to JSON Converter

Convert your PDFs to JSON without writing a single link of code.

Try Docparser for free. No credit card required. 

What are the differences between data in a PDF and data in JSON?

Data in a PDF

PDF or Portable Document Format is all about layout preservation. It is a graphics file format supporting vector and raster graphics in a single compact file. One PDF file can contain multiple pages. The format preserves layers and feature attributes. It can also map georeferenced information. 

Because PDF supports the preservation of vector graphics, it provides the opportunity for the highest print quality. Furthermore, PDFs store all map information in a single file, making it an excellent medium to share content with users without an internet connection. In addition, you can export the map layer and georeference information to interact with and search through the map content.

Data in JSON

So, JSON is a file format used to store data. This data is stored in a set of key-value pairs. The information is human-readable, making JSON perfect for manual editing.

JSON supports these basic data types:

  • Number: a number that isn’t wrapped in quotes.
  • String: a set of characters wrapped in quotes
  • Boolean: true or false
  • Array: a list of values that are wrapped in [closed brackets]
  • Object: key-value pairs wrapped in {braces} 
  • null: represents no value

Otherwise, other data types need to be serialized to a string and then deserialized to be stored in JSON. 

What can you do with the data converted from a PDF to JSON?

  • Take data from a pdf and integrate it into a modern website. Using JSON, you can extract data from documents and turn it into a sleek, current website.
  • Load data quickly and asynchronously without delaying page rendering.
  • Change layout elements in a page without refreshing.

Nevertheless, it is still possible to convert PDF documents into logically structured data like JSON objects and Excel Spreadsheets or XML.

Create your own PDF to JSON converter with Docparser

Getting started with Docparser is easy. Once you have created your first document parser, uploading a couple of PDF sample files is the next step. The samples act as “blueprint” layouts for additional PDFs to come. The idea is to set rules for data extraction for a particular document layout and simply feed more PDFs with the same layout through our parser later on.

Next to extracting simple data fields in fixed positions (e.g., Dates or Tracking Numbers), Docparser also lets you remove table rows and complex data structures from variable parts inside the document.

Convert PDF to JSON with Docparser

There will be times that you need to handle various PDF layouts that are structured differently, for example, if you want to extract data from PDF purchase orders provided by different trading partners. In this case, you simply create one document parser for each PDF page layout. Each document parser is then designed to batch process many files of the same type.

Download your converted PDF documents in JSON format

To obtain the data in JSON, you simply select the “Download Links” tab from the App interface and choose JSON as the output. You can either download the JSON data of one single PDF document or group the data of several papers together in one single file.

pdf to json converter

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

What is a Document Layout?

This is important because Document Layout is used throughout our application. The document layout is a type of document that you want to parse. 

For example, let’s say you receive invoices from “Vendor A,” and they all look similar. Even though you may receive hundreds of invoices from this vendor containing different data, each invoice will have the same structure, visually speaking. This means that all invoices from “Vendor A” have the same document layouts in our application. 

We offer hundreds of different document layouts that can be used to process thousands of documents regularly.

Though it isn’t mandatory, you can create a parsing rule for every document layout. 

Do you have a routing engine?

No. It’s your, the user’s, responsibility to dictate which documents go to which parser. All PDFs of similar layouts and structures can be applied, but there’s no way to have the software identify undefined PDFs. 

Does Docparser offer an API?

Absolutely. Our Docparser API is our prized product, and a lot of our native integrations like Zapier and Workato, among others, are built on top of it.

The API allows you to import documents to Docparser programmatically and obtain your parsed document data. You can also use our Webhooks to receive your parsed data in real-time. 

Please visit Docparser API Documentation to learn more.

Does Docparser offer cloud integrations?

Yes! Docparser was created for the modern cloud stack. As such, we offer a variety of cloud integrations allowing for the automation of document parsing. 

Cloud integrations allow you to import documents automatically from different sources and copy and paste the parsed data to wherever you need.

We offer Google Sheets integrations and also support other cloud integrations such as:

Or, if you or someone on your team knows Apex, you can develop your integration with our API and our Apex Code Snippets.  

If you want to learn more about these integrations, please review the following related resources:

For developers, we have a REST API to import documents and acquire the parsed data using whatever programming language you like. 

We also have a vast library of knowledge if something isn’t listed here, but you need answering. 

Do you offer document extractions for email?

We do, but our sister company Mailparser.io can handle larger volumes of recurring emails.

Mailparser extracts data from the email or the attachments within the email (like a .pdf file).  

Mailparser can create a fully automated workflow by extracting data from PDFs. All you need to do is sign up for an account and then forward your PDF files to the @mailparser.io email address. Then, the tool automatically pulls out table rows and copies them over to a Google Sheets spreadsheet. 

How can I sign up for Mailparser.io?

  1. Sign-up for a free account at Mailparser here.
  2. Confirm your email address.
  3. Create a @mailparser.io inbox to which you will send your files by email

Easily Convert PDF to JSON

Convert your PDFs to JSON without writing a single link of code.

Try Docparser for free. No credit card required. 

2 Responses

  1. Hi, our angular project needs an api which can convert pdf (mainly medical reports)
    to JSON, it looks like you have what we are looking for, wonder if you can give me a

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