Extract text from PDF in C# and VB.NET

Extracting text from a PDF document is a common task for C# and VB.NET developers. You can use Docotic.Pdf library to extract text in just a few lines of code on Windows, Linux, macOS, Android, iOS, or in a cloud environment.

You will need Docotic.Pdf library to try the sample code. Download Docotic.Pdf binaries or use its NuGet package. To try the library without evaluation mode restrictions, you may get the free time-limited license key here.

There are different approaches to text extraction. Let's look at some practical examples.

Extract text from PDF

Convert PDF to plain text

You may use plain text for indexing, reading, or some kind of analysis of PDF content. This sample shows how to convert PDF to text in C#:

using BitMiracle.Docotic.Pdf;

using (var pdf = new PdfDocument("your_document.pdf"))
{
    string documentText = pdf.GetText();
    Console.WriteLine(documentText);
}

PdfDocument.GetText() provides the following result for the sample document:

Result of plain text extraction from PDF document in C# .NET

Alternatively, you can extract text from individual pages:

using (var pdf = new PdfDocument("your_document.pdf"))
{
    for (int i = 0; i < pdf.PageCount; ++i)
    {
        string pageText = pdf.Pages[i].GetText();
        using (var writer = new StreamWriter($"page_{i}.txt"))
            writer.Write(pageText);
    }
}

Related C# and VB.NET samples are available on GitHub.

Convert PDF to formatted text

You may use formatted text to parse some structured text data or to display the text in a human-readable format. This sample shows how to convert PDF to formatted text in C#:

using (var pdf = new PdfDocument("your_document.pdf"))
{
    string formattedText = pdf.GetTextWithFormatting(); // or use pdf.Pages[i].GetTextWithFormatting()
    Console.WriteLine(formattedText);
}

PdfDocument.GetTextWithFormatting() provides the following result for the sample document: Result of formatted text extraction from PDF document in C# .NET

Extract plain or formatted text from a specific area

You may need to extract text from a specific part of a PDF page only. For example, to only parse the text in the page header. The library also supports this. C# sample:

using (var pdf = new PdfDocument("your_document.pdf"))
{
    var page = pdf.Pages[0];
    var options = new PdfTextExtractionOptions
    {
        Rectangle = new PdfRectangle(0, 0, page.Width, 100),
        WithFormatting = false
    };
    string areaText = page.GetText(options);
    Console.WriteLine(areaText);
}

This sample provides the following result for the sample document: Result of text extraction from a specific area in C# .NET

Extract detailed text information

You can also get detailed information about every text chunk for a comprehensive analysis. Docotic.Pdf provides methods for extracting text as is, by words, or by characters. For every text chunk, the library extracts:

  • Unicode text
  • Bounds on the page
  • Font
  • Font size
  • Transformation matrix, which is useful for scaled and rotated text
  • Rendering mode
  • Fill color, opacity, pattern
  • Outline style
  • Detailed information about every character

This sample shows how to extract text by words from a PDF page in C#:

using (PdfDocument pdf = new PdfDocument("your_document.pdf"))
{
    PdfPage page = pdf.Pages[0];
    foreach (PdfTextData data in page.GetWords())
    {
        Console.WriteLine(
            $"{{\n" +
            $"  text: '{data.GetText()}',\n" +
            $"  bounds: {data.Bounds},\n" +
            $"  font name: '{data.Font.Name}',\n" +
            $"  font size: {data.FontSize},\n" +
            $"  transformation matrix: {data.TransformationMatrix},\n" +
            $"  rendering mode: '{data.RenderingMode}',\n" +
            $"  brush: {data.Brush},\n" +
            $"  pen: {data.Pen}\n" +
            $"}},"
        );

        page.Canvas.DrawRectangle(data.Bounds);
    }

    pdf.Save("result.pdf");
}

The sample provides the following result for the sample document: Result of detailed text extraction from PDF in C# .NET

You can use the following Docotic.Pdf methods to get detailed text information:

Related GitHub samples:

Extract right-to-left and bidirectional text

Docotic.Pdf properly extracts Arabic, Hebrew, and Persian text from PDF documents.

Internally, PDF documents store text according to the visual order. It means that text in languages with right-to-left scripts is stored reversed. Docotic.Pdf reorders extracted text according to its logical order. This is what readers of right-to-left text usually expect.

You don't have to do anything special. Just use the code snippets above to get RTL text in the correct order.

OCR (text recognition)

If the PDFs you deal with contain images with text, then you can extract the text using optical character recognition. The following samples show how to do that using Docotic.Pdf and Tesseract:

Look at OCR PDF in .NET article for more detail.

Font loading in cloud environments

The samples above work fine in any environment - on Windows, Linux, macOS. On cloud platforms, like AWS Lambda, you may need to do one additional configuration step.

There are PDF documents that use non-embedded fonts. By default, Docotic.Pdf loads such fonts from the system font collection (e.g., C:/Windows/Fonts or /usr/share/fonts). However, cloud platforms may restrict access to these font collections.

You can deploy your own collection of popular fonts with your application. Find and copy public font files to your project. Mark all font files with CopyToOutputDirectory = Always in your .NET project. To use the collection, initialize PdfDocument with a custom DirectoryFontLoader:

PdfConfigurationOptions config = PdfConfigurationOptions.Create();
config.FontLoader = new DirectoryFontLoader(new[] { "path_to_your_font_collection" }, true);
using (PdfDocument pdf = new PdfDocument("your_document.pdf", config))
{
   ...
}

Conclusion

You can use Docotic.Pdf library to extract plain or formatted text from PDF in C# and VB.NET. You can also extract detailed information about every text chunk. You can download Docotic.Pdf here.

Look at C# and VB.NET samples for extracting text from PDF: