Complex tables are notoriously difficult and time consuming to tag correctly. If you could provide more information it might be helpful in finding a solution. For example...
How was the PDF created? From what source application? How was it tagged? Does tagging mess up the visual representation of the table, or tag structure, or both? Any way you could post an example that I and others could download and inspect?
a 'C' student
You really want to master table content with an authoring application that "does tables" (FrameMaker comes to mind but there are others - just less robust). Couple that with robust tag management during the creation of the tagged PDF (e.g., Framemaker, InDesign, PDFMaker for Word). Any post-processing would be done using Acrobat Pro and all work would be done from within the structure tree in the Tags panel.
Thanks for the reply a 'C' student. I 'believe' the document was created in MS word and then converted to PDF. This happens when I tag the document using the Touch Up Reading Order tool. It messes up the visual representation as you can see in the two screenshots I originally provided.
Here is a link to the document though:
The table starts on page 17.
Thanks for the response CtDave!
Maybe these errors are happening because the document was converted to PDF from MS word?
Well that is bizarre. Once in a long while I run into a PDF that seems possessed, but I have not seen a table blow itself up like that before. I do not have any great solutions. I tried some rather desperate things to see if one would work, but nothing was really satisfactory. Your best bet is to get your hands on the source document and recreate the PDF. If that is not possible, and you absolutely have to tag the PDF you have, I would (rather reluctantly)....
Convert the PDF to Word, then back to PDF using the PDF Maker. I tried this and it messed up some but not all the pages. Also, print the PDF to PDF. This will also introduce problems - it unmaps the bullet characters from Unicode. Then, work page by page in the original PDF. If you can tag the page properly, go with that. If a table blows up or something else goes horribly wrong, try that page in the PDF converted from Word. If the Word-converted page looks identical to the original, extract it from the Word converted file, import it into the original, and delete the original page. If the Word converted page is messed up, do the same with the printed PDF. Hopefully among the three files you will be able to find an example of each page that works satisfactorily.
Sorry I am unable to offer more help.
From Office 2007, SP2 forward Microsoft has provided a PDF creation process in-built with the office applications. An end-user can use it to created tagged PDF.
Initially the process was, well pretty lame; but, today it is much improved. For supported versions the process can be helped by a product form this EU located company:
IMO, tagged PDF from Word via Acrobat's PDFMaker is still a go to solution.
But, unlike some other large software houses that avoid Standards, both Microsoft and Adobe are intimately involved with the PDF ISO Standard (32000) and the PDF/UA ISO Standard (14289) so expect both to be on the fore front of product development.
Along the way several PDF Association related small software houses are actively involved in providing solid "Accessible PDF" software tools.
Back to tables - you want to master table content properly upfront. In Word you want the table header(s) properly designated.
Properly done in Word and with use of good tag management when creating the tagged PDF will result in a workable "Table" element (with child elements).
You may have to do some post-processing with Acrobat Pro. It will be easier with the "workable" table element and child elements in place.
When you do this ALWAYS work on the structure tree in the Tags panel. Save often as there is no "undo".
No worries at all a C student. Thank you very much for all the insight you were able to provide. I was finally able to track down the original, which is in Word, so I will see if I can tag the table in there without getting this error.
I will let you all know if this works!
Thanks very much for the insight CtDave. I was finally able to track down the original in Word, so I will try to tag the table in there and then save as a PDF from Word.