What Is OCR And What Is It Used For?

If you work in an office equipped with a document scanner, you have probably thought more than once about Optical Character Recognition (OCR). But what is OCR? And what is it used for? This article explains what OCR means and covers the most popular use cases.

What is OCR?

Literally, OCR stands for Optical Character Recognition. It is a widespread technology to recognize text inside images, such as scanned documents and photos. OCR technology is used to convert virtually any kind of image containing written text (typed, handwritten, or printed) into machine-readable text data.

OCR Technology became popular in the early 1990s while attempting to digitize historic newspapers. Since then the technology has undergone several improvements. Nowadays solutions deliver near to perfect OCR accuracy. Advanced methods like Zonal OCR are used to automate complex document-based workflows.

What is OCR Used For? Popular Use-Cases for OCR

OCR use cases

Probably the most well-known use case for OCR is converting printed paper documents into machine-readable text documents. Once a scanned paper document goes through OCR processing, the text of the document can be edited with word processors like:

  • Microsoft Word
  • Google Docs

Before OCR technology was available, the only option to digitize printed paper documents was by manually re-typing the text. Not only was this massively time-consuming, but it also came with inaccuracy and typing errors.

OCR is often used as a “hidden” technology, powering many well-known systems and services in our daily life. Less known, but as important, use cases for OCR technology include data entry automation, indexing documents for search engines, automatic number plate recognition, as well as assisting blind and visually impaired persons.

OCR technology has proven immensely useful in digitizing historic newspapers and texts that have now been converted into fully searchable formats and had made accessing those earlier texts easier and faster.

Do Banks use Optical Character Recognition (OCR)?

Do Banks use OCR?

In this fast-paced world, the bank is one of those institutions that use OCR the most. Document digitization in the banking sector is a great utility. Many banks use OCR technology in achieving better transaction security and risk management.

The use of OCR software in banks can also scan many customers’ important handwritten guarantee documents like their loan documents and more. Additionally, the incorporation of facial recognition software with OCR is also significantly remarkable because it provides two-layer security at ATMs.

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Docparser is a trusted OCR software tool with the ability to parse text from PDF, DOC, DOCX, and more. Just scan a printed document and send it into your Docparser account. Once you’ve established parsing rules, you’ll be able to extract the text you need right from your initial documents and send the parsed data out to hundreds of our integration partners – including Excel, Google Sheets, and many more. Try it free.

OCR Software - Docparser

Author: Joshua Harris

Hi, I'm Joshua. Each day, I speak to people who use our tool so I can learn to make it better. Parse a few PDFs and let me know what you think.

2 thoughts on “What Is OCR And What Is It Used For?”

  1. Can a pdf doc be emailed and some words are in a different language and names are missing and rearranged.

    1. Hi Michael, thanks a lot for reaching out and your interest in Docparser! Yes, you can send PDFs to Docparser by email. Also, our OCR engine can handle different languages. I would suggest you create a free trial account and give Docparser a spin.

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