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How to Scan Large Documents

Many scanning programs let you scan documents. But anyone who has ever tried scanning large documents knows that it presents some unique challenges. Because, simply put, not all scanning software is created equal. In this article, we'll talk about the challenges and solutions related to scanning large documents and we'll recommend a piece of software that takes most of the pain out of scanning large documents: FileCenter, the low-cost leader in scanning software. Let's jump right into it.

Article Summary:

  • Document scanning is different than image scanning
  • Book scanning: scanning large documents in multiple passes
  • Scanning more pages onto an existing large document
  • Scanning multiple documents as one large document
  • Jump to our recommendation »

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Document Scanning is Different than Image Scanning

Scanning a document is not the same as scanning a photo. How is it different?

For one thing, you rarely want to scan a document in color. Instead, we recommend black-and-white at 300 dpi. This will give you a good, crisp image and plenty of detail without the kinds of file sizes you get when you scan photos.

More importantly, however, is the file format. Pictures usually get saved as single-image JPEG files. Documents, on the other hand, have multiple pages that must be kept together. Further, we typically want to expose the text in the scan so that the resulting document can be searched. The ideal format for this kind of storage is PDF. PDF supports multiple pages and embedded text, along with a host of other features. So make sure that your document scanning software will scan directly to PDF.

Making that PDF searchable, however, requires an extra step that your scanning software may or may not do (but probably not). It must perform Optical Character Recognition (OCR) to turn the pictures of words into real words. Sound technical? It is. Which is why you shouldn't have to worry about it. Make sure your document scanning software will automatically take care of all of this for you, without a single mouse-click on your part.

Book Scanning: Scanning Large Documents in Multiple Passes

The problem that vexes anyone who has ever tried to scan a book is this: how do I make the scanner wait while I turn the page?

Book scanning, the ultimate form of scanning large documents, requires a flat-bed scanner. But therein lies the issue. Flat-bed scanners are designed to make a single pass then quit. So what you need is large document scanning software that will get a page from the scanner, then pause the scanner and ask if you have more pages to do. This feature is often called Prompt for More.

Now, you won't want to scan a whole book at once, simply because you should stop and save your work every so often. But you should be able to scan entire chapters at a time uninterrupted. But again, you need software that supports it.

Scanning Additional Pages onto a Large Document

So let's suppose that you are scanning a book and you stop to save after every chapter. Or let's suppose that your document is hundreds of pages long ... much longer than the scanner will hold and much longer than you're willing to scan without stopping every fifty pages or so to save your work. It raises a question: how do you pick up where you left off? How do you scan more pages onto a large document?

Proper large document scanning software will allow you to append pages onto an existing document. It should be as simple as this: select the document, click Scan, select Append Pages, and proceed with the next batch of pages. Using this technique, you can scan large documents of almost limitless size.

Scanning Multiple Documents as One Large Document

An inverse problem to large document scanning also exists: scanning short documents in the most efficient way possible. For example, suppose you have 200 one-page documents to scan. Scanning each one individually requires a lot of mouse clicks and a lot of time feeding single sheets into the scanner. What if, instead, you could scan them all as a single large document then have the software split the scan up into many individual files?

Again, this is the sort of thing that can only be accomplished with the right large document scanning software. Your better solutions will have a way to break up a large scanned document at regular intervals, or to use something like document separator sheets to instruct the software where to break up a large document.

Look for features like scanning profiles, automatic document naming, and automatic document separation and routing. These will make it possible to scan, name, and save entire stacks of documents with just a couple of mouse clicks.

Our Recommended Large Document Scanning Software

FileCenter goes out of its way to make large document scanning not just easy, but highly efficient. With full support for searchable PDF, many tools for facilitating bulk scanning, and a clean interface that users rave about, FileCenter can take you all the way from being smothered in paper to a paperless office. Download a free trial today!

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