Working With Scanned Text

April 29, 2010

I find that many users are thoroughly confused by the graphics they scan. I was reminded of this yesterday when a user posted a question about working with a page of scanned text. The user wanted to manipulate the individual characters of text and even quoted a dialog box for importing text into CorelDRAW.

Let’s start at the beginning. If you scan something, your computer will see a single rectangle encompassing the whole thing you scanned. It is a bitmap. That doesn’t necessarily mean BMP format, it means that the whole graphic is made up of thousands (even millions) of tiny dots called pixels.

In the case of the person asking the question about a scanned page of text, the best answer would have been to use OCR software to convert the “picture” into individual text characters. One free solution is SimpleOCR. I have not had a need for OCR software so I can’t vouch for how well this product (or any other) works. The other option would be to use Corel PowerTRACE to convert the scan representing text into vector graphics. It still would not be text, but at least each “character” would be a separate graphic.

With either of these methods, there is work and time involved to get the original scanned page of text into something that can be manipulated easily in CorelDRAW. Once you’ve done that, you can do all kinds of things to the text. But if all you have is a scan, your options are extremely limited.

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