12. Optical Character Recognition

An OCR system consists of a normal scanner and some special software. The scanner is used to scan text on a document or piece of paper into the computer. The OCR software then examines the page and changes the letters into a form that can be edited or processed by a normal word processing package.

OMR exampleThe ability to scan the characters accurately depends on how clear the writing is.

Scanners have been improved to be able to read different styles and sizes of text as well as neat handwriting.

Although they are often up to 95% accurate, any text scanned with OCR needs careful checking because some letters can be misread.

OCR is used to automatically recognise postcodes on letters at sorting offices.

  • Cheaper than paying someone to manually enter large amounts of text
  • Much faster than someone manually entering large amounts of text
  • The latest software can recreate tables and the original layout
  • Not 100% accurate, there are likely to be some mistakes made during the process
  • All documents need to be checked over carefully and then manually corrected
  • If the original document is of poor quality or the handwriting difficult to read, more mistakes will occur
  • Not worth doing for small amounts of text


challenge see if you can find out one extra fact on this topic that we haven't already told you

Click on this link: Optical Character Recognition