Digitizing Documents: Why, How, and Where

Paper documents, as quaint as they may seem to be in our modern world, still somehow coexist with much of our digital media. In fact, its existence in our largely digital realm is exactly the reason digitizing documents is still very important today. However, if you are not sure why that is, how it is done, or where it should be done, then this simple guide may serve as your basic how-to:

Why should we digitize documents?

Aside from the obvious reasons of updating information to the current standard form, digitizing documents also serve some definite and specific technical benefits. Most of these fall directly in line with most of the common advantages of current data processing and word input today, but to enumerate:

Easier management – Digital information is far easier to manage than dealing with paperwork, and we all very know well why: something that we’ll just call “archival flexibility.” Digitized documents can be stored and then searched easily with just a few clicks, drags, and search keywords.

Better preservation – Sure, HDDs and even SSDs may eventually break down due to various things, but they’re still far more reliable than paper and most of its storage mediums. Besides, there’s also the cloud, which can store your digital documents somewhere much, much safer. Universal accessibility – Carry folders and photocopiers instantly become much less useful. Why manually copy files when it can be virtually available almost anywhere on each and every device that you own?

How to digitize documents?

Before the advent of devices specifically designed for this purpose, digitizing documents before was done manually. You take a bunch of paper documents and then type each and every piece of data written on it on a computer. Nowadays, we have better methods, which are primarily:

Traditional scanners – This is the next step to manual data input. The document is scanned directly and is saved as an image file. This is good to use if alphanumeric input data is not required.

OCR scanners – This is the main de facto method of digitizing documents easily and conveniently. OCR stands for optical character recognition, and as described, it analyzes the text of the image file it scans then writes it out in computer/machine text.

This is not actually a new method per se, but it is largely considered to be an alternative medium. Depending on the app used, these can perform both as a traditional device and as an OCR scanner.

Hybrid devices – Technically the same as mobile devices; however, these 2-in-1 units can provide more avenues for data management and more options for scanning the documents themselves.

Additionally, there are also software programs and apps that specialize in managing documents after they are scanned. In Kami for instance, you can directly run raw image files on its (premium) OCR feature when uploading them for editing, or you can cut and/or arrange them with its Split and Merge option.

Where can you digitize documents? The universality of electronic devices makes it possible to scan documents almost anywhere. Thus, the more specific question would be where to digitize documents when you don’t have the personal hardware. Any computer rental shop, such as an internet cafe, is a good place to start. You can also visit your local national library, as most modern libraries today have public access to scanners and photocopiers, as well as PCs, if you need a little more editing. Do take note though that these are more or less temporary solutions only, given that the frequency and number of documents to digitize may or may not require you to set up your own document scanning system.

Christian Crisostomo
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