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University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Introduction to OCR and Searchable PDFs: Getting Started & Quick Tasks

Learn OCR best practices and how to begin an OCR project using ABBYY FineReader, Adobe Acrobat Pro, or Tesseract with this guide.

ABBYY 12 Help

ABBYY Finereader 12 has a very helpful guide that can be found here, and goes into greater detail on issues that aren't covered in this guide.

Where to Start

Processing a document in ABBYY FineReader means that you will need to complete the following four steps:

  • Acquire an image of the document
  • Recognize the document (let ABBYY automatically read through each page)
  • Verify the results (make edits as necessary to ensure 100% accuracy)
  • Save the results in a format of your choice

If you are starting with a document, pick an option that starts with the word "scan."

If you are starting with a digital file, use an option that starts with the word "convert."

Quick Convert

The quick convert mode will convert your document as soon as it is opened or scanned into ABBYY, skipping the steps that allow you to edit the images or correct the OCR text. This process is a time saver when 100% accuracy is not of the essence.

How to quickly convert documents:

1. From the document you wish to convert, right click

2. Next, select the format to which you wish to convert the current image document (Word, Excel, PDF)

3. When ABBYY has finished reading through each page, the document will then open in its new format, allowing you to save it and the original image file.

4. This process is not 100% accurate. Accuracy decreases when complex and unfamiliar characters are present.

Quick Task Menu

The Quick Task Menu will appear when you start ABBYY. This window lists the automated tasks for the most common processing scenarios. You may also choose from the tabs on the left side of the screen to reveal options specific to the format you are most interested in working with.

image source: ABBYY FineReader 12 Support. "Quick Start".  Section 2. 


Below, you will find an example of how to start a quick task in ABBYY FineReader. This particular example is demonstrating how to use ABBYY to create an editable Word Document.

image source:  ABBYY FineReader 12 Support. "Quick Start". Section 3. 


When you first launch ABBYY FineReader, you will be presented with a couple of options for quickly jumping into your work. The task box offers choices for scanning documents directly into ABBYY and using previously scanned documents.


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