Do You Have Typed Papers You Want as Text?

Do you have genealogy letters and documents that are typed on paper that you would like to have as digital text for word processing documents, genealogy programs, or other uses?  Optical character recognition, OCR, might save you typing them out.

Let’s start with this example of a response from Veteran Affairs.

OCROriginalScan

The first option, and one I can’t show, is to see if your scanner offers OCR.  As the image below suggests, my scanner references this feature but it is grayed out and not available.

OCRScannerTextConverting

So I took the scanned jpg image and opened it with Adobe Acrobat Pro.

OCRAdobePro

It did an excellent job of converting the picture to text as shown here but Adobe Acrobat Pro is not free.

In reply to your recent inquiry, a review of your late father’s service documents indicates that he was awarded the following service medals:
The British War Medal
The Victory Medal
The Military Medal
Enclosed is a copy of the only Citation Card we have in our possession concerning the award of the Military Medal. Further information could possibly be obtained from the following address:
Ministry of Defence
The Army Medal Office
Government Building
Worcester Road
Droitwich, Worcestershire
England
WR9 SAU
I trust the foregoing satisfies your requirements.

Something that is free is onlineocr.net.  The results are similar with less formatting.

OCROnlineOCR

In reply to your recent inquiry, a review of your late father’s service documents indicates that he was awarded the following service medals:
The British War Medal The Victory Medal The Military Medal
Enclosed is a copy of the only Citation Card we have in our possession concerning the award of the Military Medal. Further information could possibly be obtained from the following address:
Ministry of Defence The Army Medal Office Government Building Worcester Road Droitwich, Worcestershire England WR9 8AU
I trust the foregoing satisfies your requirements.

To summarize, you might save yourself typing out typed letters and documents by using optical character recognition, OCR, to recognize the letter shapes in an image file and converting them to characters.  Your scanner might do it directly, Adobe Acrobat Pro will do it (newer versions might even offer OCR if you try to open an image in Pro), and then there are free online services like onlineocr.net.

Our example was an original with high contrast that scanned well so our OCR results were good.  If your scan is poor, your results may be poor and you may decide that typing is faster after all.

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