Can You Extract Data From Printed Documents?

One of the biggest challenges businesses, government agencies, non-profits, researchers, and others face is translating printed documents into digital products. This can be especially challenging when it comes to hand-printed or marked documents.

You might wonder if there is a way to automate the task. Fortunately, document data capture software allows you to scan documents and convert their information into standardized data. Here are four things you'll want to know about this kind of document capture software.

Character Recognition

Character recognition is a process that calculates the likelihood that any particular object on a page represents a particular letter, punctuation mark, symbol, or tick. If you've encountered character recognition anywhere, it was probably in the form of OCR. Object character recognition primarily handles scanning texts and converting them into digital documents. It's a common way for archivists to make old newspapers, genealogies, books, and other texts available as web pages, PDFs, and similar digital products.


An increasingly popular solution is what's called ICR. Intelligent character recognition uses machine learning and artificial intelligence techniques to provide superior results. Unsurprisingly, ICR technologies tend to be more processor-intensive. Document capture software that employs ICR will take longer to get the job done, but it also can handle a wider range of tasks.

Dealing With Data on the Page

One potential ICR task is recognizing data. The average person can look at a hand-drawn table in a ledger and recognize it as essentially a primitive version of a modern spreadsheet. ICR allows machines to do the same thing. The system recognizes formatted data even in handwritten form and treats it accordingly.

Notably, this is a more advanced version of scan technologies used for many standardized tests and election ballots. The big difference is that an ICR-based solution can make educated guesses about what's on any page. Conversely, scanning systems require everything to be perfect. This is the classic problem when simpler technologies don't recognize an entry because someone filled the bubble with the wrong color of pen. ICR is usually able to make the leap of logic a human would and figure it out.

Automating With Scanners

Generally, the main limit on the speed of the automation is the hardware. There are machine-fed scanners, though, that can rapidly go through stacks of papers. If you pair your document data capture software with such a machine and a fast computer, you can churn through hundreds or even thousands of pages an hour.

To learn more, contact a company that provides document data capture software.

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