Scanned docs to revise?

Subject: Scanned docs to revise?
From: Geoff Hart <ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Sat, 18 Jun 2005 10:17:49 -0400

An anonymous techwhirler is looking for: <<...Suggestions on getting hundreds of scanned docs (.pdf) into MS Word format. These docs were hard copies scanned into .pdf format.>>

The first question to ask is whether you can get your hands on the original files. The fact that they've been scaned suggests not, but sometimes they still exist somewhere, and spending a few hours finding the originals will be far more productive than any other approach. Of course, an astonishing number of people completely lack a clue and simply erase the original files when they're done printing them. D'oh! So you may not be able to find the original files in a reasonable amount of time, if at all.

The second question to ask is just how much revision you need to do. If the originals are out of date and poorly written, it may make more sense to simply use them as reference material and rewrite them entirely from scratch.

<<Only options I can think of are re-typing everything or using voice-recognition. Any suggestions? Any technologies?>>

"Optical character recognition" (OCR) is your best bet if neither of the above suggestions helps, since you'll spend many hours training voice recognition technology, the accuracy rate will probably not be great even then, and you can probably retype the manuscripts about as fast as you can read them into the computer and then proofread them.

OCR of really crisp scans easily exceeds 99% accuracy nowadays, but that's not as good as it sounds; it still means one error roughly every 20 words. Budget time for proofreading to catch typos.

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Geoff Hart ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca
(try geoffhart -at- mac -dot- com if you don't get a reply)
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