Document Conversion, also know as Digital Imaging, is the process of converting a piece of printed paper into a visual image that can be viewed by electronic means on a personal computer or workstation. By transforming written information into streamlined electronic images, one can actually bypass time constraints of the past and connect their data to the world in a matter of seconds. The digital imaging process consists of:

  • Preparation of documents such as removing staples and paper clips

  • Scanning of documents, normally at 200 to 300 dots-per-inch (DPI)

  • Indexing, which names the file according to a company’s requirements

  • OCR processing, which allows each character to be recognized

  • Quality Control, to ensure the documents meet quality requirements

  • Document Destruction of Source (original) documents, then recycling

Document conversion is performed by scanning a piece or paper or photo, or even an object as 2D, and saving the digitized image as a TIFF, JPG, BMP, PNG, or another format. The different formats indicate different resolutions and are used for different purposes. For example, when scanning a photo to print, resolution is measured in dots-per-inch; the higher the DPI, the more crisp, clear, and large the image is. The downside to a high DPI is that the image size is very large and usually takes longer to email or save electronically. If you only need a small image to be viewed on a cell phone, a JPG will be fine since it will transmit quickly and doesn’t need to be as crisp and clear as a printed photo and is a lot smaller. 

If a file has multiple pages, all pages can be included in the electronic file after being scanned. So, you will have one electronic file, and when you open it up for viewing, all the pages are there. 

When paper is scanned and a digital image is produced, the image can be transmitted, displayed, and printed, but is not “text searchable” at this point. To be able to search a digital image that contains text, and be able to recognize the words, a process is performed called Optical Character Recognition (OCR). Performing an OCR process on a digital image allows a computer to recognize each word (and each character of each word), and therefore lets a user put a keyword in a search box, and have a list of documents that contain the keyword be displayed on the computer.

After conversion, documents are now electronic, and are stored securely on a system that allows users to search instantly for documents. This system may be as simple as an external hard drive or server, or web-based on a corporate intranet, serving multiple offices and locations. 

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