After the Scan Is Over

In the rush to make documents such as annual reports and company brochures available via the Web, use of Adobe Systems Inc.'s Acrobat software suite has become ubiquitous.

A document with text and images can be scanned directly to an editable Portable Document Format (PDF) file. PDF files display as they were created, regardless of fonts, software and operating systems. Although images and graphics are resampled to a lower resolution for faster download, they appear the same as in the original.

An optical character recognition (OCR) engine in Acrobat Capture 3.0 teams with a digital scanner to convert paper documents into searchable PDF files. Capture's OCR engine is optimized for 16 languages and features page and content recognition.

The resulting file retains the original formatting and layout and can be e-mailed, printed or posted to the Web by staffers with minimal training in the technology.

That combination of qualities is important to law firms such as Denver-based Holland & Hart LLC, which uses Acrobat software in a scanning operation that handles millions of pages annually.

Digital documents must be exact duplicates of the originals to be used as evidence in court. Making the documents searchable lets lawyers find the half-dozen pertinent pages among what can amount to 50,000 or more pages in a case. As lawyers work on the PDF files they annotate them, and those annotations can be searched.

Similar results can be achieved with other software, such as ScanSoft Inc.'s Paper Converter for Microsoft Corp.'s FrontPage Web layout and design software.

Peabody, Mass.-based ScanSoft's OmniPage Pro lets users reverse the process as well, converting PDF files into HTML-tagged pages. Tagged PDF files created in Acrobat preserve a document's visual integrity so it can be automatically resized for viewing on Palm OS devices, on the Web or in print.

For occasionally creating PDF files from your scans, designated Web sites or files, San Jose-based Adobe offers its Web-hosted PDF Online service.

You can scan a document using Adobe's Paper Capture, and Adobe will perform the OCR and supply a searchable PDF file of your document.

The service works similarly with files created in Microsoft Office, graphics formats and several other file types. Files created in Office applications can also be converted to tagged PDF files, which contain data on the structure of a document, such as chapters and sections.

You can also submit the site address of a Web page and receive a PDF file of the page.

Copyright © 2002 IDG Communications, Inc.

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