Have you ever wished that you could search your company’s physical paper files the way you can search the web? If so, then OCR technology was built for users like you. OCR, or optical character recognition, is a sophisticated technology that can take digitized printed text and recognize letters, numbers, words, and phrases therein. From full-text document searches to automated data entry, OCR offers a range of intriguing and useful capabilities.
How OCR Works
So how does OCR work? How can a computer take a scan of a printed text and turn it into a document that your computer system is capable of reading?
The process, as you might expect, is quite complex. We won’t get into the nitty-gritty coding elements that make electronic optical character recognition possible, but the process essentially begins when you scan a text document into your computer. A scan is little more than an image file, not much different than the pictures that you might take with your phone’s camera or download from the web. But with OCR-enabled software, your computer can perform a sophisticated document imaging process on the scanned document.
The software looks specifically for pixel patterns that resemble letters or numbers. In other words, when you scan a text document into your computer, an optical character recognition program will analyze this pixel data and essentially create a digital version of the text on the page. This digital document should, aside from the occasional admissible error, be easily readable as the same text from the document scanned. Furthermore, you can now easily edit the document digitally, just as if you had retyped it yourself.
The Growing Popularity of OCR
As more and more companies are ditching physical file cabinets for digital document management systems or cloud-based storage platforms, OCR is becoming increasingly popular. This growing popularity is evidenced by the number of OCR tools currently available on the market. For instance, ABBYY FindReader 11 is typically praised as a good program for converting printed records and documents into accurately rendered digitized versions. There is also free software available on the web—FreeOCR, for example—that claim to serve the same purpose.
Even Adobe is getting in on the action. Adobe Acrobat Document Cloud (Adobe’s eSignature software) includes a useful OCR PDF converter. With Acrobat DC’s PDF converter, you can get digitized versions of PDF scans, use custom fonts to mimic the look of the original document, or event create a “smart PDF” version of the file. Smart PDFs include searchable text for convenience, but preserve the look and text of the original document and aren’t editable. As Adobe says on their site, the smart PDF option is ideal if you need to preserve documents just as they were created for legal purposes.
Introducing eFileCabinet and Zonal OCR
If you’re looking for OCR software that will not only allow you to digitize your company’s printed documents but also to organize those documents into an easy-to-use virtual filing system, then eFileCabinet is the program for you. With eFileCabinet, you can digitize all of your printed records and save space that you’ve been devoting to big, heavy filing cabinets for so many years. All of your files—including the ones you’ve digitized using optical character recognition—will be full-text searchable, making it easy to find specific files with just a few keystrokes.
In addition, eFileCabinet offers a zonal OCR feature that further expands what optical character recognition can do.
In essence, there are two kinds of OCR. The first, full-page OCR, is the focus of most optical character recognition software. When you are using full-page OCR, you are simply creating a digital copy of scanned text document. This digital copy can be fully editable, as eFileCabinet’s digitized records are. It can also be a smart PDF, like that which Adobe offers with Acrobat DC. The defining characteristic of this method is that the full page of scanned text is repurposed into a digital version.
Zonal OCR, on the other hand, can pull information from just specific parts (or zones) on the page. For instance, let’s say you have 1,000 completed tax forms, and you want to extract the same pieces of employee information from each of them. Zonal OCR allows you to tell your OCR program which parts of the form to pull information from so that you don’t have to hire someone perform manual data entry.
With eFileCabinet, you will need to do some basic programming to tell our software which zones to pull information from. This programming consists mainly of creating a document template that maps out the zones of interest on your scanned documents. Once you’ve done that, eFileCabinet’s zonal OCR feature will rapidly sort through your forms and pull the information you need into an electronic form. This form will in turn be filed away into an eFileCabinet folder where you can quickly find it for future reference.
Zonal OCR will save your company thousands of dollars and countless hours each year on data entry. When the feature is coupled with eFileCabinet—a powerful software that allows you to conveniently store, search, edit, and secure your company’s digital documents—it becomes even more effective.
Are you interested in experiencing these benefits for yourself? Visit our website at http://www.efilecabinet.com/meet-the-hot-new-data-entry-specialist-zonal-ocr/ to read more about zonal OCR. Then, click on the “Free Demo” tab at the side of the screen to get a free 15-minute preview of our software!