How can I best scan 189 pages of text for editing in a word processor?

Soozi Lohbeck June 6, 2013
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I used to (25 years ago) work in huge law firms where I would scan in huge interrogatories and then be able to edit and change them using Word Perfect; obviously, saving tons of retyping. I need the same thing now but would rather not buy a program. I only have the one Dissertation that now my professors want me to publish. The computer that the Dissertation was originally typed into is now long gone and nobody could save my dissertation.

I’d really rather not retype the whole thing! Is there a place where I can just take in my Dissertation and have it converted to Word or Word Perfect formats for my Windows 7 laptop? Somebody suggested doing it over the Internet, scanning and sending it into a firm that does this, and then they email it back to me.

Is it easy? I’ve become a bit computer-illiterate and can’t take on too much without a lot of technical support. Lemme know!

Thanks for being here!

Dr. Soozi

  1. dragonmouth
    June 7, 2013 at 1:32 pm

    If you are unable/unwilling to do the scanning yourself, any of the larger office stores (Staples, Office Max, Kinko's) will scan the document for you for a moderate price.

  2. Oron Joffe
    June 7, 2013 at 10:12 am

    There are two parts to this, getting the page images onto the computer, and OCR (Optical Character Recognition). For scanning, you can obviously use a scanner if you have one, but if you don't, you can use a smartphone, digital camera or tablet as long as the resolution is 4MP or higher. If you are using a camera of some sort, make sure the pages are held flat, the camera is parallel to the pages so they don't appears "squint" and that illumination is even. This is important!
    As for OCR, which is where the images are converted to editable text, some versions of MS Office and Adobe Acrobat have built in OCR, or if you have a scanner, it may have come with one. If not, you can download free OCR packages, of which there are several, or use an online service. I know of two: Free OCR (http://www.free-ocr.com/) which is OK but rather limited, and Abbyy FineReader Online (http://finereader.abbyyonline.com/en) which is much better, but you need to pay a few cents per page. In either case, you upload the scanned/photographed images and wait for the restults. The websites explain the process in detail.
    There are also apps for smartphone/ipad etc which will take pictures of the text, straighten them and even out the light, convert them to PDF and will upload them to the cloud for OCR'ing, and in my experience they work OK (at least for the simple documents I've tried them for), but the result is a searchable PDF rather than a word document, so you'll have another job on your hand extracting the text...

  3. Bruce Epper
    June 7, 2013 at 4:00 am

    If you have a multi-function printer, you already have the capability to do this yourself. If not, get a friend/colleague to scan them for you. If you don't already have access to OCR software (MS Office includes a tool for this), scan them into PDF format (most online converters work with PDF files as the source), and see the information here about free online conversion from PDF to Word and other document formats.