If you’re used to manipulating text files all day long at the office, then you might love OCR. If you don’t know what that is or how it works you’ve come to the right place as we are going to look at just how it can be used to make your life ten times easier. Well, it won’t pay your mortgage and it won’t shave 20 pounds off your waist but if you have a text related issue, OCR is your guy. Before we start however it is important to know what OCE is and even more importantly what the letters stand for. OCR stands for Optical Character Recognition. Its purpose? To make every last bit of text available for manipulation. But we’ll go into more detailed matters in a moment.

So you’re probably thinking that it’s a useless feature to have since all text is already available for manipulation, right? Well, you haven’t thought of all forms of texts. What about text that comes in the form of image, like the PDF version of a magazine, or even a newspaper in digital format? Normally you wouldn’t be able to edit this text and that can be a real problem for some depending on their job description. But with OCR, even that text can be seamlessly edited.

So what does OCR do, more specifically?

If you haven’t been able to figure it out already, OCR helps by scanning images and other files and identifying text. Once it’s found, that text can be converted into a format that allows for its modification. This can come in handy in some situations and be absolutely crucial in others. It’s a great thing to have especially if you are in a hurry and are faced with transcribing a copy of a very large piece of literature for example. You can just take a picture, scan it and then retrieve the text and copy it over to a text document. You can even use OCR online nowadays.

And how did you say it worked?

We didn’t, or at least not yet. OCR works in a way that is both intriguing and obvious at the same time. As you know, there are many ways in which you can spell the same words. Regardless if the text is printed or written by hand, there are infinite different hand writings as well as computer fonts for printed documents. So how does OCR even know what part of the image is a letter? Surely someone didn’t spend their entire lives crunching data and adding all possible combinations into the software. In fact, it’s a lot simpler than that. The OCR software simply bases its searching on the basic strokes and lines necessary for creating letters. These are universal and can be found in letters despite the individual or stylistic touches they might posses otherwise.