Optical Character Recognition (OCR)

OCR September 22, 2022

The seamless use of OCR technology offers an efficient business solution by eliminating the additional time, costs and resources otherwise needed with manual data entry.

Optical character recognition (OCR) refers to text recognition. OCR programs are not only able to extract data from image-only PDFs, scanned documents or camera images, but also repurpose it for data storage, access and use.

OCR software identifies each letter on an image to then create words and sentences. This improves the speed of transferring data from a physical, printed document to machine-readable text. Once the data are stored from the image, it is now available for easy access to and editing.

OCR systems use a combination of hardware and software to accomplish this. Hardware (an optical scanner or specialized circuit board) copies or reads text. Software, then, handles the advanced processing of the image with artificial intelligence (AI) or methods of intelligent character recognition (ICR). This refers to advanced identification of languages, styles of handwriting and other symbols.

OCR services efficiently process hard copies and documents into editable PDFs. Once in this format, users can edit, format and search the document freely as if it were created with a word processor.


Advantages of Using OCR

The main advantage of OCR technology is increased efficiency. The OCR process saves time, decreases error and requires little effort since no manpower is required.

This is especially beneficial to those with large numbers of paper-based documents, across multiple languages and handwritings. OCR creates greater accessibility and functionality of these documents. Now that previously physical, hard copies are only a click away, the time and effort required by employees for data retrieval is reduced. OCR technology also provides users with 100% text-searchable documents so they can quickly lookup data. This saves users from the task of having to locate and read through the entirety of scanned, image-only documents. With this increased productivity in data storage and retrieval, customer wait-times drop, thereby improving their experience. Thus, OCR technology creates efficiency and satisfaction across the board.

By using OCR technology, users can now achieve more with their physical copies. This includes compressing them into any preferred formats, highlighting and editing keywords, incorporating them into websites or attaching them to an email. This allows users to easily access, share and edit data. 

There are other benefits in going “paperless.” OCR stores data in an electronic format in servers, eliminating the resources needed to maintain huge paper files. In addition to cost reduction, there is superior data security. While paper documents are susceptible to loss or destruction, digital data is protected from being mishandled. OCR technology enables data to be stored for long periods of time. Even in the case of data loss or breaches, it is still safe and can be successfully recovered.


OCR in Action

OCR has a variety of uses for anyone interested in eliminating the need for paper documents or achieving efficient data entry and storage processes. This includes businesses in banking and financial sectors to those in healthcare and legal.

It is safe to use online OCR services such as Adobe Acrobat Pro DC, OnlineOCR, ABBYY FineReader Online and others. However, using an online OCR service has its limitations. They require more time since the user has to manually upload each document through the OCR software. Some of these services do not allow users to download the OCRed product and instead offer plain text. Moreover, there is still the risk of cyber insecurity and loss of confidential data. For businesses who work with a large number of important scanned documents, it is worthwhile to invest in an downloadable, AI powered OCR software.

For medical records, users should be looking for HIPAA compliant OCR softwares, such as RecordBoss. RecordBoss in particular can scan over a thousand documents in a few minutes. It can also convert handwriting into machine-readable text as well as the human eye, which makes it ideal for medical records and forms. RecordBoss is one of the best OCR softwares on the market as it offers an efficient and safe business solution for all.


What does it mean to OCR a document?

To OCR a document refers to the process of converting an image-only PDF into documents with machine-readable text. One can convert 3 to 4 pages per second with OCR. The process is rather simple.

First, open your OCR software of choice.

Then, drag a file on to the page or click and select the file from your computer. These files are ones that are scanned documents or image-only PDFs that do not have an OCR layer to them. A user can tell their document is not yet OCRed based on any of the following:

  • You are unable to select any text
  • You can select text, but it is difficult to select specific text
  • You can select text, but it poorly formatted once you copy and paste it elsewhere

Next, click “Run OCR” or another equivalent depending on your OCR service of choice. Finally, you can download the resulting document in your preferred format.


How to Convert an Image With Handwriting to Text Using OCR

OCR technology focuses on recognizing fonts and symbols to identify all variations of machine-printed text. As a result, basic OCR technology finds it difficult to decipher handwriting styles.

Yet, there are more advanced OCR softwares available today that can identify handwriting as well as the human eye. These softwares allow users to complete the same process for handwritten texts as they would for other scanned documents.

The best approach to converting handwritten texts is to use a trusted, AI powered OCR software.