OCR software transforms printed or hand-printed text into electronic data that can be used in a computer system. (OCR stands for optical character recognition.)
All OCR software starts with an electronic image of the text, usually created with a document scanner. Some people think of this as an OCR scanner, but the OCR is actually performed by optical character recognition software after scanning. The scanner only produces an image of the document, much like taking a picture of it.
The OCR software then examines the image of the scanned document; identifies each letter, number and punctuation mark; and produces equivalent text in a machine-readable digital form that can be used by a computer system.
OCR software is extremely accurate for machine-printed or typewritten text. A related technology, ICR (intelligent character recognition) can convert clearly written hand-printed text. But OCR alone is not enough when a company or government agency must deal with documents as part of a business process.
Companies that rely on a document-driven business process must do more than simply convert written text to digital text. For example, just doing OCR for invoices does not identify the important pieces of information (vendor, address, items, prices, payment terms, and so on). It does not verify that the OCR software has converted the information correctly. And it does not match the invoices with the corresponding purchase orders. With OCR alone, these important steps require time-consuming and costly manual effort.
Also, OCR software results depend on the image quality of the scanned documents. Documents that have colored or patterned backgrounds, that have been marked with highlighter pens, or that are crooked when scanned can yield poor OCR results. Fixing these bad results means either adjusting the scanner settings and rescanning the document (perhaps multiple times) or manually keying in corrections to the electronic data.
Kofax software goes beyond OCR software to automate the transformation of business-critical information from paper documents, faxes and electronic formats into process-ready information, and to deliver it into business systems, databases, workflows and document archives. Kofax software also works with document scanners to automatically straighten and improve image quality for even the toughest documents, providing dramatically better OCR results and eliminating the need to rescan documents.Return to Glossary