The Art of OCR: How to Convert Scanned PDFs to Editable Text

Are you struggling to work with scanned PDFs? Worried they won’t be editable? OCR technology makes it easy to convert scanned documents into editable text. With this article, learn the art of OCR and make your documents digitally accessible.

When it comes to OCR (Optical Character Recognition) software, the choices can be overwhelming. It is important to evaluate each system’s accuracy and functionality for your needs carefully before making a decision. Different types of OCR software share many similar traits, such as being able to scan printed documents and convert them into an editable format. However, there are some key differences that you should consider when deciding which type of OCR software and word to pdf converter is best for you.

Desktop-based OCR Software

This type of OCR software resides on the user’s local computer, so it doesn’t require an internet connection in order to use it. Desktop-based OCR software works well with smaller documents and is typically quicker than cloud-based solutions because there aren’t any servers involved in the process.

The Art of OCR

Cloud-based OCR Software

Cloud-based solutions often offer more features than a desktop version, such as support for multiple languages and a larger selection of output formats. Additionally, cloud services are typically faster than their desktop counterparts as they can leverage server resources to process documents quicker.

On-Premises Software

On-premises solutions allow businesses to set up their own server infrastructure and install the necessary hardware components in-house instead of relying on outside providers for hosting services. This type of solution provides the highest level of scalability but also comes with additional cost considerations that must be addressed when evaluating different products for deployment within an organization’s infrastructure.

Step-by-Step Guide to Converting Scanned PDFs to Editable Text

If you have a scanned PDF document that you need to edit, the first step is to convert it into editable text. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to do that:

Choose a PDF converter: There are many online and offline tools available for converting scanned PDFs into editable text. Some popular options include Adobe Acrobat, ABBYY FineReader, and Nitro Pro

Upload your scanned PDF: Once you’ve chosen your tool, upload the scanned PDF that you want to convert. Most tools will allow you to drag and drop the file onto their website or application

Select OCR (Optical Character Recognition): OCR technology is what allows the software to recognize the characters in your scanned document and convert them into editable text. Make sure that OCR is selected before proceeding with the conversion process.

Choose your output format: Depending on the software you’re using, you may be able to choose from multiple output formats such as Word, Excel, or plain text.

Review and edit if necessary: Once the conversion is complete, review the converted document for accuracy and make any necessary edits.

Save and export: Finally, save your new editable text document and export it in your desired format.

Understanding the Benefits of OCR

One of the major benefits of OCR is that it enables documents to be converted into digital formats which are easier to store, search, and manipulate. This makes it much easier for organizations to better manage vast stores of document data, quickly locate needed information among those documents, and ensure accuracy with fewer manual re-keying errors. Additionally, extracting data from scanned documents can help make operations more automated by reducing manual data processing operations from labor-intensive processes to simple ones with automated zone recognition.

Furthermore, with advanced OCR technologies, it’s now possible to quickly convert entire batches of unstructured documents into information-rich databases for improved accessibility across varied systems. Additionally, many cutting-edge OCR technologies provide text recognition in multiple languages making it much easier for organizations operating within multilingual ecosystems to accurately process and store documents regardless of their language source

Tips for Improving OCR Accuracy

Tip 1: Start with high-quality images For best results, use a high-quality scanner with 300 dpi or better resolution. This will ensure that the captured image contains enough clarity and detail for a successful OCR conversion.

Tip 2: Scanning more than one page? Use two-sided scanning mode Be sure to enable two-sided scanning when digitizing multi-page documents to help reduce manual data entry errors caused by flipping pages incorrectly. This will also make it easier to duplicate page breaks when exporting your document in various formats, such as HTML or PDF.

Tip 3: Consider using a preprocessing technique tailored to the task at hand Depending on the type of data contained in the document, there may be some useful preprocessing techniques available to help improve OCR accuracy. For example, binarization (conversion from color/grayscale images into entirely black and white) is typically used for documents that contain only graphics/text elements—while de-skewing (correction of skewed scanned images) may be necessary before attempting OCR with document images that have warped over time due their format or origin.

Tip 4: Choose the proper barcode recognition settings One way that preprocessing techniques can increase OCR accuracy is by automatically detecting any barcodes in an image file and replacing them with corresponding text characters before beginning the main OCR step. This is especially helpful if you are dealing with multiple types of encoding symbologies, allowing each symbol type to be processed separately within its own unique settings (e.g., length & check digits). Similarly, adjusting any other specialized settings such as line detection parameters may further increase accuracy levels when dealing with particularly complex datasets or nonstandard script structures like handwriting.


OCR is a powerful technology that can help you quickly convert printed, scanned, or faxed documents into convenient digital files. While OCR does have its fallbacks, such as its inability to accurately capture handwriting or detect low-quality scans, overall this technology offers an invaluable service and is becoming increasingly more useful in today’s document-heavy environment. With careful preparation of scanned documents and the proper tools, you can achieve better results with any OCR project.