How to Scan Documents

Three Methods:Preparing for ScanningScanning Your DocumentsEditing Your Documents

Scanners are an essential part of today's ever-evolving digital world. Whether needed for business or recreation, using a scanner is extremely important in the modern business world and, luckily, extremely easy. If you don't own a scanner, you can likely find one at your local library or a copy and shipping center like Kinko's. Essentially, scanning is simply transferring physical documents to a digital image. This is done using the same technology a copier uses by taking an intense snapshot of the document. However, instead of printing off copies of that snapshot, a scanner transfers it to a computer, where it can be used for a variety of things.

Method 1
Preparing for Scanning

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    Get a scanner. In order to scan documents, you will need to first purchase a scanner. You can get stand alone scanners or scanners which function as part of a combined system (with a fax machine, printer, or copy machine). These can be purchased from office supply stores, electronics stores, as well as a number of online sources.
    • Once you’ve purchased the scanner, you will need to plug it into your computer and install the associated software. Generally the scanner will connect to the computer via a USB cable (which should be included). It will also usually need to be plugged into a power source. Don’t forget to plug it in. The software installation will usually be very straightforward. Follow the directions provided in the user manual or by the installation disk.
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    Have appropriate software. You will need software to run the scanner. This will generally be included with the scanner, unless you are buy one used (so be sure to ask about the software if you do). You will also need software for editing the scans, if you plan on doing anything too complex with them.
    • Programs like Adobe Acrobat will let you turn scanned text into readable, multipage documents. Programs like Adobe Photoshop will allow you to edit and fix scanned photographs or turn scanned text into large spreads.
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    Have scannable documents. You will need the documents that you want to scan, since they will need to be placed inside the scanner (much like a copy machine). You will also need to ensure that your documents are scannable. If they are not flat, larger than the scan surface, or need to contain certain security features like the special reflective material in checks, then these items cannot be scanned.

Method 2
Scanning Your Documents

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    Open the scanner. Once you have your scanner and have hooked it up to your computer, you can begin scanning your documents. Open the lid of the scanner, in much the same way you’d open a copy machine, in order to reveal the glass scanning surface.
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    Place the items into the scanning tray or glass. Place the side of the document that you want scanned down onto the glass. This will allow the camera below to see the item. Place the document the appropriate place; the space for a standard-size paper, as well as several other common sizes, will be marked along the edges of the glass. Any part of the document which does not fit on the glass will not be scanned. Once you have placed the item, close the lid.
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    Open your scanning software. Now that the item is place, open your scanning software on your computer. This can be accessed in a variety of ways. Try to install the software such that an icon is always readily accessible.
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    Adjust the scan settings. Adjust the settings as necessary for the document that you plan to scan. Text documents can often be scanned in black and white, while some scanning software may make allowances for scanning photos vs scanning posters. The software varies widely across brands and devices, so you will have to experiment.
    • Often the settings you will want to change will be relating to the quality of the scan. Higher quality scans will produce much larger files. Scan only to the quality you need. Images may need to be high quality where text can generally be scanned at a very low quality. Some software will have preset settings for this.
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    Select “Scan”. Once the settings have been adjusted, you will need to tell the software or the scanner to begin scanning the document. There may be a “Scan” button in the software or you may need to press a “Scan” button on the machine itself. Read your user manual if you become too confused.
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    Make further adjustments, if necessary. Once the item is scanned, your software will usually give you the option to make further adjustments, such as changing the orientation of the image. Make whatever adjustments you feel are necessary and then tell the software to save the file.
    • Be aware that scanned images are usually quite large, especially if you have chosen to scan at high settings. Change the settings and rescan the image if the file size is simply too large for your purposes.
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    • Pay attention to the file format that the document saves in. You may wish to choose something other than the default.
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Method 3
Editing Your Documents

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    Edit text. Once your document has been scanned, you may wish to use a program like Adobe Acrobat to turn the files into a PDF or stitch them together into some kind of multi-page document. You can also set Acrobat to recognize the scanned text and make it searchable or editable.
    • If saved as an image, you may want to up the contrast using photo software in order to make the text more legible.
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    Edit images. Open the image using either your computer’s basic photo software or a more complex program like Photoshop. From there you can change contrast, levels, and a variety of other aspects of the image.

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