How to scan paper spreadsheets directly into MSExcel or a .CSV file

Posted on 2014-12-16
Last Modified: 2014-12-16
Hello.  One of our vendors insists on delivering its reports on paper, printouts from MS Excel.  They are formatted with column and column headers and rows, with cell outlines turned on, and other extended format garnishes.
We would like to scan them directly into Excel, or, if not possible, into text/ASCII/csv files that can be imported into Excel, keeping the column label, columns, and rows intact for number or formula manipulation.
I see a number of third-party products which OCR from PDF files (which our Canon IR scanners can produce) and then OCRing the PDFs into Excel readible files.
What is the most efficient/reliable way of doing this?  And with what product?
Thank you.
Question by:michaelheffernan
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LVL 51

Expert Comment

by:Joe Winograd, EE MVE
ID: 40503579
Hi Mike,

As you discovered, there are many products that can do this. Some can scan directly to Excel; some can convert to Excel after the initial scan to PDF; others can do both.

Here are five options for you:

ABBYY FineReader
Adobe Acrobat Pro
Nuance OmniPage
Nuance PaperPort
Nuance Power PDF

I have all five products (and others that will scan to, and/or convert a PDF to, an Excel spreadsheet). If you can post a sample PDF after scanning with your Canon (being careful, of course, not to include any private/confidential info), I'll run it through a few of the programs to see how it does on conversion to Excel. Regards, Joe

Author Comment

ID: 40503594
Thank you.  I looked at OmniPage with attendant good reviews.  I am leaning on management to get the vendor to just send the files themselves, but that's up in the air.  Please let me know what you observe.
LVL 51

Expert Comment

by:Joe Winograd, EE MVE
ID: 40503609
> I am leaning on management to get the vendor to just send the files themselves

Yes! That's exactly what I would recommend. Much better than receiving and scanning paper.

> Please let me know what you observe.

I don't understand this comment. Please elaborate.

Author Comment

ID: 40503618
"I'll run it through a few of the programs to see how it does on conversion to Excel..."  The results of your run thrus..

Author Comment

ID: 40503624
Oops.  I forgot the scan...stand by.
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Author Comment

ID: 40503629
Heck, all this stuff is proprietary.  I think I will grab the trial copy of OmniPage Enterprise (there is one) and try it out.  You're off the hook, but I appreciate your responses and suggestions.


Author Comment

ID: 40503631
Ha!.. And I just received an email from the GM...the vendor will send digital files beginning next month.  I got my wish!
Have a good holiday season.

LVL 51

Accepted Solution

Joe Winograd, EE MVE earned 500 total points
ID: 40503669
Well, now, that worked out great! Definitely the better solution! But if you ever wind up needing it in the future, OmniPage is very good — give the trial a spin. Also, here are some other trial downloads:

ABBYY FineReader

Nuance PaperPort Pro

Nuance Power PDF Advanced

And here's an article explaining how you can use Power PDF Advanced in a batch file or program:

Batch Conversion of PDF and TIFF files via Command Line Interface

Happy Holidays to you, too. Regards, Joe

Author Closing Comment

ID: 40503925
Yes; even though it turned out that the problem solved itself, it is outstanding that Joe provided solutions for others to consider later on.
LVL 51

Expert Comment

by:Joe Winograd, EE MVE
ID: 40504016
Happy to help — and thanks to you for the points. Regards, Joe

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