Scan PDF to Word

Posted on 2011-10-20
Last Modified: 2012-05-12
We have a couple old paper documents that we would like to scan and edit them in Microsoft Word. What are the things that we can do to accomplish this?
Question by:coronoahcoro
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    Expert Comment

    MODI is a basic OCR application which comes with several versions of Microsoft Office. It has an 'Export to Word' facility.
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    Expert Comment

    by:Joe Winograd, EE MVE
    You need to scan them with software that can perform Optical Character Recognition (OCR). OCR analyzes the scanned image and turns it into text. OCR is not 100% accurate, but modern packages are very good. An example of OCR problems is the word "modern" in the previous sentence. With some fonts, the "r" and the "n" touch each other, or come very close, so the the OCR engine thinks they're the letter "m" and turns the word into "modem". Other obvious examples are the number "0" and the capital letter "O", the number "1" and the lower case letter "l", etc. Also, the accuracy of OCR depends a lot on the quality of the source documents and the resolution that you use when scanning.

    There are many good OCR packages out there. Two highly-regarded ones are ABBYY FineReader and Nuance's OmniPage:

    There are some free OCR packages, but I've never tried any. If you want to try, here are a couple of links:

    Another approach is to use an imaging/scanning package, such as Nuance's PaperPort:

    PaperPort can scan documents directly into a Word file, automatically invoking OCR immediately after scanning when the target file type is Word. Here's the Scanning Profile dialog that shows how simple it is to create the Word document - with editable text, thanks to the built-in OCR (btw, under the covers, PaperPort utilizes OmniPage OCR):

    PaperPort direct scan to Word doc
    The latest version is PP14, which just came out in August. The main enhancement is cloud support, which you probably don't need. The new version is fairly expensive, but you can get the previous version, which is 12 (yes, they were superstitious and skipped 13), as a download at Newegg for $39.99:

    The Newegg download is likely to be 12.0. Do not install that. Instead, read my EE article on how to upgrade to 12.1 (free!):

    As a disclaimer, I want to emphasize that I have no affiliation with any companies mentioned in this post, or any financial interest in them whatsoever. Regards, Joe

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