Office Document Imaging - Part 2

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We look at the faux printer that comes with Office 2003 plus the Document Imaging Tool that brings the scanning tool (mentioned in part 1) and the imaging writer together into a useful trio.

By Helen Bradley and Peter Deegan

This is a ‘printer’ that actually saves the document as it would be printed to a file instead. You’d get the same result if you printed the document to paper then scanned in the pages. This is faster and gives a cleaner result.

In Office 2003 you’ll see the ‘Microsoft Office Document Image Writer’ among the list of Windows printers.

Select it as your printer in the Print dialog box then choose ‘Properties’. This will let you select the ‘paper’ size plus the format to save the document image as (MDI or TIFF) plus the default folder for saving the image.

When you click ‘Print’ in the Print dialog you’ll get a familiar File Save dialog to choose where to save the file. The option at the bottom of the dialog lets you choose to open the document image in a viewer after saving.

Despite the name and being part of Office, the Document Imaging Writer should work with any Windows program. In theory, you could make document images from the Print option in any Windows program. But don’t count on it, we’ve had some reports of programs that can’t work with this utility.

Tip: The Imaging Writer tool is a bit more accurate than Print Preview for really precise work. Rather than waste paper you can use the Imaging Writer to see how the final pages will look.

we’ll look at the Microsoft Office Document Imaging tool which is found by choosing Start, All Programs, Microsoft Office, Microsoft Office Tools, Microsoft Office Document Imaging.

This tool has been around in various guises for many years but it’s never got a lot of press so most users don’t even know it exists. It is the tool that lets you view and manipulate files you’ve created with the scanning and image writer tools.

Microsoft Office Document Imaging is handy for a few things – one of them is for viewing documents saved in the TIF or MDI (Microsoft Document Imaging) formats which are the two formats you can save scans in using the Microsoft Office Document Scanning tool. The MDI format is also a format you can use to print to from various Office applications – you do this by choosing the Microsoft Office Document Image Writer as your printer. Both the Tif and MDI formats can contain multiple pages in one file.

When you open a document in Microsoft Office Document Imaging you can arrange the screen so you see thumbnails of your pages down the left of the screen and one page at a time on the right. To do this, choose View and make sure both Thumbnail Pane and Page Pane are checked.

Arrange the pages in a different order in the file by dragging and dropping their thumbnails in the thumbnail pane. If you have two files open in two separate Microsoft Office Document Imaging windows you can drag thumbnails from one document to copy pages from one to the other – hold Shift as you drag to move the page.

Use the File, Insert File command to insert one entire file inside another and use Tools, Save Pages As to write some pages from a file to a new and separate file.


A small eye icon in the bottom right corner of a thumbnail indicates that the page contains recognized text – if it doesn’t you can run recognition by clicking the Recognize Text Using OCR icon on the toolbar. Because Optical Character Recognition (OCR) ability is built into Microsoft Office Document Imaging you can find text in your scanned document by clicking the Find button, type the word to find and click Next to locate it.

When OCR has been run, choose the Send Text to Word button to send the recognized text to a new Word document. You can send all pages or just those you have selected prior to clicking the button. The Reading View maximizes the window to take up all the screen so you can read the document more easily. Press Escape to return to the original window.

This program also has a link to Microsoft Office Document Scanning via the Scan New Document button on the toolbar. Click it to open Microsoft Office Document Scanning ready for scanning a new document.


Perhaps the most impressive part of Microsoft Office Document Imaging is the ability to annotate documents. Use the tools on the Annotations toolbar (View, Toolbars, Annotations) to add annotations to your documents. You can highlight text, add text in a text box, draw objects using the pen and even add clip art images or images from the Windows clipboard. All this happens on a separate layer to the original scan and you can disable the visibility of this layer if you want to or print the document with the annotations in place. To view or hide Annotations choose Tools, Annotations, Hide Annotations (or Show Annotations).


One handy use I regularly have for the Microsoft Office Document Imaging tool is for assembling large documents for faxing. By printing from Word and Excel etc., to the MDI format I can open the resulting files and drag and drop pages from one or more Word documents and sheets from Excel printouts or any other program into a single file ready for faxing with the Windows Fax tool.

You can rearrange the pages from multiple sources just like you could with paper pages.

You can use the Annotation feature to highlight items in the pages before faxing, without messing with the original Office documents.

Storing the entire fax in a single file makes for tidy storage and more accurate record keeping of what was actually sent.

Using the Imaging Writer plus the in-built faxing feature in Windows might save you spending money on separate fax software.

Tip: Windows Fax can have trouble with faxing large documents when you print to it direct from Word or Excel, however, printing to an MDI file as an interim step before faxing gets around this.

Of course, the Adobe PDF format is a better choice for documents for display on the web and for sharing with others than Tif or MDI. However, for some tasks, you may find that Microsoft Office Document Imaging and Microsoft Office Document Scanning are the tools you’ve had on your Office wish list without realizing you already have them.


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