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Manual Reference Pages  -  PDFTOTEXT (1)


pdftotext - Portable Document Format (PDF) to text converter (version 3.04)


Configuration File
Exit Codes


pdftotext [options] [PDF-file [text-file]]


Pdftotext converts Portable Document Format (PDF) files to plain text.

Pdftotext reads the PDF file, PDF-file, and writes a text file, text-file. If text-file is not specified, pdftotext converts file.pdf to file.txt. If text-file is '-’, the text is sent to stdout.


Pdftotext reads a configuration file at startup. It first tries to find the user’s private config file, ~/.xpdfrc. If that doesn’t exist, it looks for a system-wide config file, typically /usr/local/etc/xpdfrc (but this location can be changed when pdftotext is built). See the xpdfrc(5) man page for details.


Many of the following options can be set with configuration file commands. These are listed in square brackets with the description of the corresponding command line option.
-f number
  Specifies the first page to convert.
-l number
  Specifies the last page to convert.
-layout Maintain (as best as possible) the original physical layout of the text. The default is to 'undo’ physical layout (columns, hyphenation, etc.) and output the text in reading order. If the -fixed option is given, character spacing within each line will be determined by the specified character pitch.
-table Table mode is similar to physical layout mode, but optimized for tabular data, with the goal of keeping rows and columns aligned (at the expense of inserting extra whitespace). If the -fixed option is given, character spacing within each line will be determined by the specified character pitch.
  Line printer mode uses a strict fixed-character-pitch and -height layout. That is, the page is broken into a grid, and characters are placed into that grid. If the grid spacing is too small for the actual characters, the result is extra whitespace. If the grid spacing is too large, the result is missing whitespace. The grid spacing can be specified using the -fixed and -linespacing options. If one or both are not given on the command line, pdftotext will attempt to compute appropriate value(s).
-raw Keep the text in content stream order. Depending on how the PDF file was generated, this may or may not be useful.
-fixed number
  Specify the character pitch (character width), in points, for physical layout, table, or line printer mode. This is ignored in all other modes.
-linespacing number
  Specify the line spacing, in points, for line printer mode. This is ignored in all other modes.
-clip Text which is hidden because of clipping is removed before doing layout, and then added back in. This can be helpful for tables where clipped (invisible) text would overlap the next column.
-enc encoding-name
  Sets the encoding to use for text output. The encoding-name must be defined with the unicodeMap command (see xpdfrc(5)). The encoding name is case-sensitive. This defaults to "Latin1" (which is a built-in encoding). [config file: textEncoding]
-eol unix | dos | mac
  Sets the end-of-line convention to use for text output. [config file: textEOL]
-nopgbrk Don’t insert page breaks (form feed characters) between pages. [config file: textPageBreaks]
-opw password
  Specify the owner password for the PDF file. Providing this will bypass all security restrictions.
-upw password
  Specify the user password for the PDF file.
-q Don’t print any messages or errors. [config file: errQuiet]
-cfg config-file
  Read config-file in place of ~/.xpdfrc or the system-wide config file.
-v Print copyright and version information.
-h Print usage information. (-help and --help are equivalent.)


Some PDF files contain fonts whose encodings have been mangled beyond recognition. There is no way (short of OCR) to extract text from these files.


The Xpdf tools use the following exit codes:
0 No error.
1 Error opening a PDF file.
2 Error opening an output file.
3 Error related to PDF permissions.
99 Other error.


The pdftotext software and documentation are copyright 1996-2014 Glyph & Cog, LLC.


xpdf(1), pdftops(1), pdftohtml(1), pdfinfo(1), pdffonts(1), pdfdetach(1), pdftoppm(1), pdftopng(1), pdfimages(1), xpdfrc(5)
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