What is OCR and what is it for?

Optical Character Recognition

There is a technology that will help you greatly improve the quality of your books and digital documents. In this post we will explain what OCR is and how it works.

OCR is an acronym for the Optical Character Recognition. It is a task that is carried out with software that recognizes letters and symbols and can identify all kinds of words. In this way, it seems that the system reads intelligently, but, in reality, it only detects recognizable characters in an image and converts them into editable text.

When passing any text through a scanner, the system recognizes the characters as part of an alphabet. Once the OCR is done, the software translates it so that it can be edited in a word processor. This is the way in which the complicated action of digitizing books has been made so much easier.

OCR  is a very useful method for digitizing books, but it is also useful for digitizing different types of documents, invoices, bank statements, receipts, and also images of any type of text that needs to be digitized with the intention of being edited later. For example, a photo of a handwritten list of items to buy at the supermarket. The OCR software is also widely applied on some business software such accounting software.

The most important advantage of the ROC system, then, is the ability to find text within any type of document. In this way, we can perform quick searches within the document, without the need to read it completely or search line by line, paragraph by paragraph or page by page to find a single sentence.

Another very remarkable advantage is that, nowadays, it is not only possible to perform optical character recognition with a scanner. The vast majority of smartphones already include this system within the camera options. You simply have to open the camera application and look in its settings.

If for some reason a smartphone does not have this option, there are a wide variety of applications to download, both on iOS and Android. In any case, if what is needed is to digitize books, the most convenient and comfortable thing is to have a professional scanner available that has the function.

ORC software can also be installed on compatible scanners, but availability depends on the make and model of each hardware. The most convenient thing is that the installation is carried out by a person trained and skilled in the subject.

There are also other issues that must be taken into account to get the job done right. The image to be OCR must be of very good quality. For correct results, most of these systems require a minimum of 300 dpi (dots per inch) or sometimes as low as 600 dpi.

If the material is a poorly taken photograph, with little contrast or a poorly scanned paper, the system will also have a difficult time fulfilling its function, and the result is most likely not optimal. A good framing is recommended and that the paper is as clean and healthy as possible. If our material is in poor condition, before proceeding with optical character recognition, its quality should be optimized.

Probably one of the most important disadvantages is that OCR does not usually recognize all existing fonts. The advisable thing is that the text is written with a common typeface, with letters that are complete and with a spacing that allows its easy reading.

OCR will not always work perfectly, although well-applied tools have a tiny margin of error, only 10%. However, it is always necessary to reread and correct the text to avoid any kind of inconvenience.

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