Office Document Imaging – Part 1

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Helen Bradley looks at Office Document Scanning, which is a small dedicated interface for scanning documents.

By Helen Bradley and Peter Deegan

If you only ever use the Quick Launch icons to launch Office applications you will be missing out on three handy Office tools: Microsoft Office Document Imaging, Office Document Imaging Writer and Microsoft Office Document Scanning. These tools are linked to each other and they provide a handy interface for scanning, viewing and annotating scanned documents and for converting scanned text into editable text using OCR.

In this first chapter, Helen Bradley looks at Office Document Scanning.


MICROSOFT OFFICE DOCUMENT SCANNING

The Microsoft Office Document Scanning tool is a small dedicated interface for scanning documents. While this might not seem like a ‘big thing’ it is a small but effective scanning application that lets you do things like scan images into multi-page Tif or MDI files.

So, for example, when you need to scan and retain a large document like a contract, you can scan it into one file rather than have one file for each page in the document.

The Microsoft Office Document Scanning tool also lets you configure scanner presets which are configurations for various scanning jobs. If you regularly scan documents using Grayscale mode and a set resolution, you can configure this as a preset in the Microsoft Office Document Scanning application and then use it by selecting the preset name when you need it. This saves you having to set the scanner options manually each time.

So, enough about what it does, how do you find it? To launch Microsoft Office Document Scanning choose Start, All Programs, Microsoft Office, Microsoft Office Tools, Microsoft Office Document Scanning. On the screen is a small dialog – select a preset from the list and click the Scan button to start the scan.

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MAKE YOUR OWN PRESET

To create your own preset, click Preset Options, Create New Preset, give it a name and click OK.

Now configure the settings for the scan preset – you can choose the type of scan from a list or configure it to your own specifications by clicking the Advanced button and select the options such as Resolution, type, save file format – Tiff or MDI (Microsoft Office Document Imaging) and the level of compression to use.

The Page tab lets you set a page size and the ability to save each page as a separate file or not.

The Output tab lets you configure a storage location for the scans and a naming convention – such as a number, date and time or a name based on the first words on the page.

The Processing tab lets you configure what processing is applied to the scan such as rotation, straightening and OCR to convert the scan into editable text. When you’re done the Preset will be added to the list.

Clicking the Scanner button and selecting your scanner lets you choose whether the scanner’s own dialog shows before the scan is performed – in most cases this won’t be necessary and you can speed up the process of scanning by leaving this option unselected.

When you’re ready to scan, check the Prompt for additional pages checkbox and click Scan. When the first page is scanned, you’ll be prompted to scan another page and you can do this repeatedly until the entire document is scanned. If the View file after scanning option was enabled when you started the scan, the Microsoft Office Document Imaging application will open automatically when the scan is complete to display the scanned file.

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OTHER SOFTWARE OPTIONS

This Office option is useful in some circumstances but it is necessarily limited to basic features. Usually a better option is to use the software that comes with the scanner.

That software can make use of all the features in the scanner and often will provide features beyond the Microsoft scope. Most commonly, you can save documents to a PDF format directly or to JPG format (good for pictures).

If you want to drop a scanned image into a document, your scanner software might have a ‘scan to clipboard’ option. With this you end up with the scanned image in your Windows clipboard ready to paste into the location you want with no intermediate file.

While the Microsoft Office Document Scanning tool can do OCR (convert a document into text) normally the software that came with the scanner will do a better job.

The Office Document Scanning tool is a handy to know about for ’emergencies’. Perhaps the makers scanner software is broken or you’ve plugged a scanner into a new machine without the full software.

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MULTI-PAGE FILE FORMATS

An often overlooked point is the importance of multi-page image formats.

Many common image formats like JPG and GIF can only show a single image – which is no good if you have a document that is more than a single page. You could save each page as a separate image but there are better options.

TIF / TIFF format can support multiple page images in a single file. But not all programs will support multi-page TIF’s. For example the Windows Paint program by Microsoft will open and display the first page of a multi-page TIF but there’s no way to move to the other pages. That fact plus the relatively large file size means it is best to avoid TIF format for documents.

MDI is a Microsoft only standard which might be fine for internal company use. Since you don’t know what other people might have on their computers, trying to share a document in MDI format might be more trouble than it’s worth. In addition MDI documents are often larger than their Word document original – which somewhat defeats one of the major benefits.

PDF from Adobe is still the gold standard for sharing a document. The viewer is free and available for many operating systems. It can support multiple pages and a PDF is often much smaller than the original document.

While you probably have plenty of disk space, the size of the scanned image is important if you want to email the file. That’s another reason why TIF and MDI are not as useful as PDF.

In the next issue of Office Watch we’ll look at two other related tools, the Imaging Writer and the Imaging Tool.

 


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