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Extract Text from PDF in C# (100% .NET)

, 20 May 2006 CPOL
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A simple class to extract plain text from PDF documents with ITextSharp


This is a 100% .NET solution to extract text from PDF documents.


Dan Letecky posted a nice code on how to extract text from PDF documents in C# based on PDFBox. Although his solution works well it has a drawback, the size of the required additional libraries is almost 16 MB. Using iTextSharp the size of required additional libraries is only 2.3 MB.

Using the Code

In order to use this solution in your projects, you need to do the following steps:

  • Add references to itextsharp.dll and SharpZiplib.dll
  • Add the PDFParser.cs class to your project

Then you can use the newly added class in the following way:

// create an instance of the pdfparser class
PDFParser pdfParser = new PDFParser();
// extract the text
String result = pdfParser.ExtractText(pdfFile);

I also created a small console application which uses the class and shows the progress of the conversion. Please keep in mind that if you try to extract text from big PDF files, keeping all the resultant text in memory is not the best solution, in these cases you should write the extracted text to the file after parsing every page.

How Is It Working?

My code is based on the algorithm in C ExtractPDFText. Using iTextSharp's PdfReader class to extract the deflated content of every page, I use a simple function ExtractTextFromPDFBytes to extract the text contents from the deflated page.

Further Improvements

Although the code worked well for me, I didn't find in Adobe's PDF reference how to parse special characters. So if someone knows how to do this, just post it and I will update the class.


  • 20th May, 2006: Initial post


This article, along with any associated source code and files, is licensed under The Code Project Open License (CPOL)


About the Author

Web Developer
Romania Romania
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Comments and Discussions

GeneralRe: Alternate Solution Pin
Member 864124213-Feb-12 16:45
memberMember 864124213-Feb-12 16:45 
GeneralRe: Alternate Solution Pin
Member 909494814-Aug-12 14:45
memberMember 909494814-Aug-12 14:45 
GeneralRe: Alternate Solution Pin
James Henze29-Nov-13 6:39
memberJames Henze29-Nov-13 6:39 
General(Solved) Error when reading some document (page missing) Pin
Lord TaGoH8-Apr-11 1:13
memberLord TaGoH8-Apr-11 1:13 
Thanks you very much for your CODE!Thumbs Up | :thumbsup: Thumbs Up | :thumbsup: Thumbs Up | :thumbsup:
you saved my ass on my current project when PDFBox fail to extract the text!Cool | :cool: Cool | :cool:

I encounter some problem reading some pages of some document anyway
because in the code (method ExtractTextFromPDFBytes)you call:
if (CheckToken(new string[] {"'", "T*", "\""}, previousCharacters))
         resultString += "\n";

But the CheckToken take for granted that ALL tokens are 2 character long at least
if ((recent[_numberOfCharsToKeep - 3] == token[0]) &&
   (recent[_numberOfCharsToKeep - 2] == token[1]) &&

checking if the token is long 1 character or more solve the problem.

you need to change the CheckToken method with this one:
private bool CheckToken(string[] tokens, char[] recent)
            foreach(string token in tokens)
                if (token.Length > 1)
                    if ((recent[_numberOfCharsToKeep - 3] == token[0]) &&
                        (recent[_numberOfCharsToKeep - 2] == token[1]) &&
                        ((recent[_numberOfCharsToKeep - 1] == ' ') ||
                        (recent[_numberOfCharsToKeep - 1] == 0x0d) ||
                        (recent[_numberOfCharsToKeep - 1] == 0x0a)) &&
                        ((recent[_numberOfCharsToKeep - 4] == ' ') ||
                        (recent[_numberOfCharsToKeep - 4] == 0x0d) ||
                        (recent[_numberOfCharsToKeep - 4] == 0x0a))
                        return true;
                    if ((recent[_numberOfCharsToKeep - 2] == token[0]) &&
                        ((recent[_numberOfCharsToKeep - 1] == ' ') ||
                        (recent[_numberOfCharsToKeep - 1] == 0x0d) ||
                        (recent[_numberOfCharsToKeep - 1] == 0x0a)) &&
                        ((recent[_numberOfCharsToKeep - 4] == ' ') ||
                        (recent[_numberOfCharsToKeep - 4] == 0x0d) ||
                        (recent[_numberOfCharsToKeep - 4] == 0x0a))
                        return true;
            return false;

GeneralRe: (Solved) Error when reading some document (page missing) [modified] Pin
JBress22-Jun-11 8:40
memberJBress22-Jun-11 8:40 
GeneralNew line problem Pin
dejan19dejan194-Jan-11 4:53
memberdejan19dejan194-Jan-11 4:53 
Generalnot working on scaned image pdf file Pin
gaurav.ipec16-Dec-10 19:52
membergaurav.ipec16-Dec-10 19:52 
GeneralRe: not working on scaned image pdf file Pin
dr_csci10-Jan-11 5:07
memberdr_csci10-Jan-11 5:07 
GeneralMy vote of 5 Pin
stefan_lahnor25-Nov-10 23:54
memberstefan_lahnor25-Nov-10 23:54 
GeneralMy vote of 1 Pin
ajc27-Oct-10 8:16
memberajc27-Oct-10 8:16 

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