by Dinesh Thakur

OCR stands for optical character recognition, a wonderful and marvellous technology. It enables you to convert previously printed text material into information your computer can understand, without having to retype it. Have you ever had a story or an article or a magazine clipping that you wanted to have in your computer, but the thought of retyping the entire thing was overwhelming? Or just boring? That's what OCR is for.

 OCR requires a scanner and software. Typically when you scan anything on paper (text or graphics), to get it from a printed page into your computer, the image scans in as a picture. That is, if you scan a typewritten page, you would have a picture of the typewritten page, not the typed letters themselves. But with OCR software, you can scan the printed page and the software figures out what characters those little shapes are supposed to be, and it turns the scanned image into real text that you can put into your word processor! Since the OCR software almost always makes some mistakes, you should then pass the text through a spelling checker,. Ideally you should read it over yourself, because some mistakes still give you the wrong word, but a word that's properly spelled. Then you can edit the text as much as you like, or use it as a story in a newsletter, or add it to your thesis paper. Some people use this technology effectively right now, and some complain about the efficiency of it- it isn't really much faster than typing-but OCR software is getting better all the time.

 OCR also refers to a special font that an OCR system can recognize easily you know, those typefaces that look like a computer did it.