Use OCR and ICR to scan handwriting to text and automate data entry from forms filled out by hand.

OCR Data Capture

What is OCR Data Capture?

document OCR process automationOCR stands for Optical Character Recognition and is the technology that allows software to interpret text on scanned images. When this technology is applied to automating business data entry processes it’s referred to as OCR Data Capture.

Many are familiar with popular desktop OCR applications designed to convert scanned images to editable documents. When this process is applied to specific areas of the document containing data fields it’s called zone OCR. But OCR data capture software is more than just simple zone OCR. Modern applications use some or all of these technologies:

Enterprise data capture systems provide interfaces for scanning, recognition, data verification and export, as well as management and monitoring tools to track large volumes of documents and data through the workflow.

Who can benefit from OCR data capture software?

messy business information made easy with ocr data captureAny organization that collects data from paper documents, or electronic files like PDF and Office documents, can get a very high return on investment by automating the data entry with OCR data capture software.

You do need to have a significant number of documents to […]

Creating forms optimized for handprint recognition

Handprint recognition applications can provide dramatically different results in terms of accuracy depending on whether the form is designed with intelligent character recognition (ICR) in mind.

Forms Processing applications like ABBYY FlexiCapture have a built-in form design tool with ICR-optimized field layout elements and rules that validate whether your form uses best practices for recognition. These forms can be automatically converted to recognition templates for scanning for data capture. This saves you dozens of hours of trial and error during the design process and even more in data entry once the filled in forms are collected.

Best practice recommendations for ICR and OCR forms include:

  • Plenty of space between form elements and labels, at least 0.5cm / 0.25in
  • Use drop out colors for form backgrounds when possible
  • Hand printed characters should be constrained with boxes or combs to force filler to write legible, separated, printed characters
  • Use check boxes instead of handprint when possible since these are nearly 100% accurate
  • Use numeric codes instead of alphanumeric text when possible to reduce the number of possible characters and increase accuracy
  • Use validation rules to check against possible values and flag data with incorrect values
  • Check box fields can be used to verify the presence of signatures

What are the best scanner settings for OCR?

Most OCR applications are optimized for 300 dots per inch resolution images.

While color is supported and most often performs better than black & white images, OCR algorithms will generally convert the color to B&W automatically as part of the OCR process. With color input, the dynamic conversion usually produces the best result, but not always.

Especially when an image contains stray markings, stamps, notes, colored paper or other elements that can throw off the binarization process, OCR results can be improved by paying careful attention to image processing settings and using a pristine black & white image for OCR instead of a color scan.

In forms processing and handprint recognition applications, guide marks in the form can often be removed during the scanning process, improving the OCR results when the software doesn’t have to distinguish between the form background and the words being recognized.

Using drop-out forms, traditionally printed in red or green and then scanned with a corresponding red or green light, automatically removes the form background during scanning and leaves only the text to be recognized. This can dramatically improve recognition results, especially for handprinted data.

Older, black & white scanners would require you to change out the lamps in order to perform color drop-out. All but the least expensive modern color scanners have the ability to enable drop-out colors in the scanner driver.

Advanced forms processing applications can perform color drop-out on-the-fly with scanned color images. Though this is generally not quite as accurate as scanning with a drop-out lamp enabled, it has the advantage of retaining a full-color original copy of the image with the form element and labels visible.

Handprint Recognition Guide

What is ICR, Handprint Recognition?

ICR stands for Intelligent Character Recognition and is the technology that allows software to interpret hand printed text on scanned images.

Forms Processing Software uses ICR technology to automate data entry tasks involving hand-filled surveys, applications and forms. It provides interfaces for scanning, recognition, data verification and export, as well as management and monitoring tools to track large volumes of documents and data through the workflow.

Forms Processing also includes OCR (Optical Character Recognition) technology to recognize machine printed text, and OMR (Optical Mark Recognition) for check boxes and multiple choice bubbles.

Who can benefit from handwritten recognition software?

Any organization that collects data on paper-based forms, surveys or applications on a regular basis can get a very high return on investment by automating the data entry with forms processing software.

You do need to have a significant number of forms to justify the expense at least a hundred forms per month or more depending on how much data is being captured. If the data entry task can be done in under 100 man-hours then it is not a good candidate for automation with ICR software.

Organizations that have many separate departments that collect data on forms can share the budget for forms processing software by re-using it for other projects. Your current project may not be big enough to justify the expense, but when combined with one or two others it would be.

How much do Handwritten Recognition systems cost?

The total cost of a forms processing solution includes several items:

  • Cost of the software
  • Time to install and configure the software
  • Forms may need to be redesigned for optimal recognition
  • Recognition templates must be created for each data field on every type of form
  • Data exports must […]

Forms Processing

What is ICR, Survey & Forms Processing?

ICR stands for Intelligent Character Recognition and is the technology that allows software to interpret hand printed text on scanned images.

Data Capture Forms OCRForms Processing Software uses ICR technology to automate data entry tasks involving hand-filled surveys, applications and forms. It provides interfaces for scanning, recognition, data verification and export, as well as management and monitoring tools to track large volumes of documents and data through the workflow.

Forms Processing also includes OCR (Optical Character Recognition) technology to recognize machine printed text, and OMR (Optical Mark Recognition) for check boxes and multiple choice bubbles.

Who can benefit from handprint recognition software?

Any organization that collects data on paper-based forms, surveys or applications on a regular basis can get a very high return on investment by automating the data entry with forms processing software.

You do need to have a significant number of forms to justify the expense– at least a hundred forms per month or more depending on how much data is being captured. If the data entry task can be done in under 100 man-hours then it is not a good candidate for automation with ICR software.

Organizations that have many separate departments that collect data on forms can share the budget for forms processing software by re-using it for other projects. Your current project may not be big enough to justify the expense, but when combined with one or two others it would be.

How much do Survey & Forms Processing systems cost?

The total cost of a forms processing solution includes several items:

  • Cost of the software
  • Time to install and configure the software
  • Forms may need to be redesigned for optimal recognition
  • Recognition templates must be created for each data field on every type of form
  • Data exports must […]

Applications

When you scan a document that has text or numeric data on it, you are able to read and understand what is written in the scanned image. However, to a computer, the resulting image file is just as meaningless an assortment of pixels as a landscape photo. In order to transform this information into an editable format that you can search through, copy, and modify without retyping it manually, you will need the an Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software.

There is a wide variety of OCR software available. While they all share the ability to convert images of machine printed (not handwritten) text or numbers into an editable format, the various software often have different features, accuracy, prices, and language options.

You can find the various types of OCR software with a description of each below.

Users within a single department, working from home or who have a small business can simply scan their documents to a folder that is shared to everyone. In this “ad-hoc” scenario you only need some basic document scanning software to simplify and bring consistency to your filing system.

If you want to move to the next level, there are Desktop Document Management options that provide an all-in-one means for capture, storage, search and retrieval of documents. Additionally, they provide security, advanced capabilities and ease of use above that of the ad-hoc methods

And let’s not forget cloud-based options that alleviate the need to maintain storage servers or keep software up to date.

Need a simple, no frills OCR solution without spending hundreds of dollars on a professional software package? Look no further. There is a no cost, donation optional, OCR freeware solution for […]

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