5. Is Scanning the Answer to Your Problem?

Although scanning can be very effective, getting the best results can often be quite time consuming and may not necessarily turn out to be the best solution. Situations where this might be the case are:

  • The material already exists in digital form. If the material was originally acquired from the internet or other online source, it may be possible to retrieve a copy. A search engine such as http://www.google.com can locate documents and even pictures, even if they no longer exist on the original site. The internet archive at http://www.archive.org has several years of archives of the whole internet. Literary texts are available from sources such as Project Gutenberg or the Oxford Text Archive.

  • Acceptable results could be obtained much more quickly by other means. For example, if an illustration from a book is to be incorporated into a word-processed document, it might be simpler to leave a gap in the text, paste in a photocopy of the illustration, and then re-photocopy the resulting page.

  • The amount of text to be scanned is small. The time taken to learn how to use the scanner and software would be more than it would take to retype the material by hand.

  • The text to be scanned is faint, of poor quality, on creased paper etc.. Poor quality text will give low accuracy of recognition and the time spent in correcting mistakes would be more than it would take to retype the material by hand. Poor quality text can sometimes be improved by first making a photocopy from which to do the scan.

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