So you are starting a project requiring a little (or more likely, a whole lot of) organization and thinking that a scanning tool can save you a lot of time. But you don’t know which tool is best for you, correct?

There are many different kinds of OCR (which stands for optical character recognition) software out there, and the great variety of solutions can be overwhelming to those like us who are looking to just save a little time.

Some are free, some cost thousands of dollars, and many are in between. Some are great at image correction, which increases text extraction accuracy, and some aren’t so great. Let’s explore which option is best for you…

For Personal Tasks:

Such as recognizing text off some of your personal bills, or off some old pictures? Then some free OCR options might be adequate, but I think that paying a small amount for a professional solution is the best route.

I recommend paying for an OCR tool for this simple reason: you usually get what you pay for. If you use a totally free tool, they almost always don’t return the results I want. And I have just wasted an hour in submitting some PDFs or JPGs and looking at the results.

I have gone this route (paying a small fee for an OCR tool) and it has saved me about 15 hours on a family scrapbooking project. It then saved me almost 10 hours in digitally organizing receipts for an IRS audit that I went through in 2019 (ugh).

In addition, with paid OCR tools, you can usually toggle settings to hone in on getting better results. With free OCR options, it’s a black box; meaning that you submit files, and what you get back is what you get. There is no fine tuning or adjusting that you can do.

There are options that you can pay $50 for that will do exactly what you want, and ultimately that is: save time.

For Bigger Tasks at a Company or an Enterprise:

Find a proven technology (Parascript, Grooper, Iris Link are a few) that also addresses limitations of legacy OCR software. As you could be dealing with data / documents that have a variety of structures, you don't want to be dependent on OCR templates / zones.

Relying only on Zonal OCR means that should the document format change, any work required to create OCR zones is almost worthless. And data being moved even 1/16 of an inch will deem OCR zones incapable of accurate capture.

A really good image processing technology is usually packaged alongside OCR technology , can temporarily remove any non-text elements from the document (such as ink splotches, boxes, lines, logos, etc).

Some of the really slick OCR software out there use AI to see how your data is organized, like if it’s in paragraphs, or boxes, or in columns. They use this knowledge to use the most correct tool for that specific data format, which leads to even better text recognition accuracy.

Good luck in finding the best OCR tool for your use! I hope a few of my tips helped you save some time and money.

Author's Bio: 

Brad Blood is a native of Oklahoma City and a graduate of Oklahoma State University. He is a fan of college football, 3D mapping technology and a data capture expert.