What is Optical Character Recognition (OCR)?

What is Optical Character Recognition (OCR)?

OCR (Optical Character Recognition) may sound complex, but in actual fact it is quite simple. OCR scanning essentially refers to the process of converting paper documents into fully searchable and editable electronic files. Extremely useful in a whole range of sectors, OCR makes one of the best uses of document and data scanning by converting traditional paper documents into a range of files, such as Microsoft Word, Excel spreadsheets, CSV, XML and PDF Searchable formats.

How Does OCR Scanning Work

When a page is scanned, it is usually stored as a bit-mapped file in TIF format. When that image is displayed on the screen, it is able to be read by us, however to the computer, it’s simply a series of black and white dots. OCR enables those ‘dots’ to be read by the computer in order to determine whether they represent a particular letter or number, and essentially decode it in order to be read by programmes.

The process begins by scanning the hard-copy – so a document, book, newspaper etc. to create digital images such as TIFF, PDF, PNG, JPEG. The software is then applied in order to convert images into searchable or editable text format. The software is extremely intelligent as it can help to remove any distortion and lines that may cause it to be read incorrectly. It is then able to detect lines of text and recognise characters in order for the file to be saved correctly.

OCR scanning was actually developed originally to help those who are sight-impaired gain access to printed information, but has been developed in order to be able to "read" computer files.

Where Can OCR Be Used?

As OCR becomes more and more recognised as a tangible solution for streamlining processes in the digital world, many businesses have jumped on the OCR bandwagon. Legal businesses, HR departments, educational institutions, medical establishments and the construction industry have all improved their efficiency with OCR document scanning.

What Are The Advantages of Using OCR

OCR scanning and conversion boasts a plethora of benefits and it could be your competitor who is receiving these benefits, including:

  • Reducing human error
  • Potentially reducing expenses
  • Time saving
  • Improving streamlining
  • Increasing efficiency

Have you considered OCR scanning as a way to improve your workflows? We have over 10 years’ experience working with businesses in a whole range of sectors. Get in touch with us now.

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