The Magic Behind Optical Character Recognition (OCR)

Do you have a need to update a paper document or pull text from PDFs?

With optical character recognition (OCR), you will no longer need to retype entire documents to obtain this information. Converting text and images from your scanned PDF documents to editable DOC formats is a piece of cake. Data extraction leverages advanced OCR to determine which information is important to your organization, based on technical rules written for your organization’s needs.

Optical Character Recognition 101

Optical character recognition, or OCR, is a method of converting a scanned image into text. When a page is scanned, it is typically stored as a bit-mapped file in TIF format. When the image is displayed on the screen humans can read it, but to a computer it is just a series of pixels or black and white dots.

About OCR

Just like a computer, as you read these words on your screen, your eyes and brain are performing OCR without you even realizing. Your eyes are recognizing the patterns of light and dark shapes which craft the characters (numbers, letters, and punctuation marks) displayed on the screen, which your brain analyzes to decipher. Sometimes your brain reads individual characters but mostly your eyes scan these shapes and decipher entire words and groups of words at once. And presto! Thanks to your mental OCR system, you can now understand the shapes and words on the screen.

OCR Advantages

Once a printed page is in this machine-readable text form, you can perform all kinds of things you couldn't do before with a “flat” document. OCR is essentially your own, personal document handling assistant. You can search through documents by keyword (handy if there's a vast amount of text), edit it with a word processor, compress it into a ZIP file and store it in much less space, send it by email, and all kinds of other advanced things. Machine-readable text can also be used by other software to determine which information is important to your organization. Here are 4 Signs You May Need an OCR Solution.

Leveraging OCR for Further Use

There are several free OCR services you can find online, but depending on how your organization plans to use them, a conversation with Extract Systems might be beneficial to you. Extract leverages OCR to automate workflows within your organization to increase productivity. Extract’s software can read files from any location and these documents can be sorted and indexed to any desired electronic location. The data can then be automated into various, separate workflows, eliminating the need for you or your staff to manually sort through all the documents coming through your department, and then manually send the documents off to the appropriate workflows.

There are endless ways to use OCR in order to optimize workflows and boost productivity. Check out the post, 3 Ways to Unlock the Benefits of OCR to get started.


As a designer of experiences, Tera strives to bridge the gap between the user's needs, the physical world, and innovative technology by creating intuitive and engaging cross-channel experiences. By gaining valuable insight from people's motivations, behaviors, and attitudes, she enjoys analyzing findings to quickly iterate on ideas to help develop amazing products and experiences that meet real human needs--needs that they may never have thought about. She is an experienced Creative Leader who has a strong record of building and implementing successful branding, digital marketing, and eCommerce strategic plans. Tera has first-hand experience with starting and leading programs that have substantially increased awareness and driven large growth in eCommerce, UX, Web/App Design, and Digital Marketing for leading brands. She has a strong talent for understanding "the big picture" and leading large diversified and cross-functional teams in a large corporate setting as well as a fast paced, nimble and agile startup environment.