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Scan Documents as Editable Text (OCR)

You can use the scanners in IT Computer Classrooms and the Library Learning Commons and Adobe Acrobat Pro to scan a document using optical character recognition (OCR), which will export your scanned document as a PDF you can read using a screen reader or from which you can extract text into a word processor.

Note: If you are using Optical Character Recognition for accessibility reasons, the IT Assistive Technologies Center (ATC) can provide you with further assistance. It is located on the lower level of the W.E.B. Du Bois Library. For more information, see Assistive Technologies Center (ATC).

  1. Place your book or document face down on the scanner glass.
  2. On the computer, go to Start > Adobe Programs > Adobe Acrobat 9 Pro. Adobe Acrobat Pro will open.
    Note: Do not confuse this program with Adobe Reader, which can view PDF files, but not create them.
  3. In Adobe Acrobat Pro, go to File > Create PDF > From Scanner > and select the appropriate document type:
    • Black and white document for text with no images or with black and white logos or graphs.
    • Grayscale document for text that has color images that you want rendered in shades of gray.
    • Color document for text with color images that you would like to have in color.
  4. The scanning window will open, showing you a progress bar. When the scan is finished, the Acrobat Scan window will open, offering you several options:
    • Select Scan is complete if you are done scanning.
    • Select Scan more pages (sheet 2) if the next page to scan is not the reverse of the previous page.
    • Select Scan reverse sides (reverse of sheet 1) if the next page to scan is the reverse of the previous page.
  5. Click OK. Acrobat will auto-rotate and process the scanned document and “read” the text, then create a PDF file. Save this file before you make any changes! You can then:
    • Copy/paste text from your PDF to Word or any other word processing program.
    • Go to File > Export > Text > Text (Accessible), to save your PDF as a plain text file (recommended).
    • Go to File > Save As... and from the Save as type: drop-down menu, select MS Word Doc (.doc) to save your PDF as a Microsoft Word document.
  6. Remember to remove your document from the scanner!

Note: Although the OCR and file export process is fairly accurate, it is not perfect. You may have to “clean-up” or fix the layout of the resulting text and check for spelling errors.

After You Have Scanned Your Document(s)

  • Save your scans to a USB drive or other removable media.
  • You can also save your scans to online storage. To log in or to learn more about online storage options at UMass Amherst, go to umass.edu/it/online-storage-collaboration.
  • To print your scans in the Learning Commons, you can use our Pay-for-Print service. Visit our Pay-for-Print page for instructions.