Scanning Text and Images
by Keith Lightbody - last updated 11 January 2001  

Flatbed scanners are great for getting images or text into applications on your computer. A simple unit can range from $100 - $500 but will produce excellent results. I currently recommend the "one touch" models where you simply place the content on the scanner, press a button and after a while the result appears (e.g. HP 5300C). You can get cheaper and faster units but ease of use is very important.

You can scan images such as photographs, small paintings or sketches. Make sure the image is not subject to copyright. Always acknowledge other peoples' material. Image scans can produce large file sizes so adjust the scan resolution (e.g. 72 dpi for web, 150 dpi for general use, 300 dpi for good quality print output). Use image editing software to crop any unnecessary parts of the image. You can also adjust the image in many ways (e.g. by using brightness, contrast, colour, clone, or other editing tools). It is also possible to scan light 3D objects including leaves, soft toys, fruit or jewellery but consider a clear plastic sheet to protect the scannerglass. Remember that you own the copyright if you are creative!

Scanning text requires good quality typed text. Make sure the text is not subject to copyright. Always acknowledge other peoples' material. Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software is used to view the image, determine the characters and create a text file that can be edited in any word processor. Text files are significantly smaller than scanning the text as a photographic image.

Modern computers are easier to use with scanners. Recent Windows computers (Pentium II, III or IV) or Mac computers (iMac, iBook, G3, G4 or Cube) include Universal Serial Bus (USB) for easy connection of extra devices such as a scanner, colour printer or CD writer.

- buy a scanner with Universal Serial Bus (USB)
- buy bundled software for image editing and text recognition
- buy "one touch" models that are easy to use

Models (selections below are available in Western Australia, * recommended, prices in $ Australian inc. GST)
Some models worth comparing include:
- Canon CanoScan N1220U ~$300 inc. GST
(USB, bundled with Photoshop LE, very compact)
- Hewlett-Packard HP5300C ~$500 inc. GST
(USB & parallel, one touch automated scans)

Advanced users may require
- higher resolution (e.g. 42 bit depth internal and external)
- larger format originals (e.g. A3)
- Firewire or SCSI connections (for higher speed scanning)

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