points of attention in digiting

Digitizing the archive: what do you need to know?

If you still have a lot of paper archives in your organization and you would like to benefit from the advantages of a complete digital archive, then digitizing may be an option for you. As an organization, it is often best to do this yourself. But you have to know what to look for when you start.

Digitizing archives is a labor-intensive and error-prone process, which is why we would like to give you a number of important points of attention that save time and help prevent errors.

Everything starts with good preparation. So that you know what and how you are going to scan and digitally process documents. Incidentally, it is of course essential that you are guaranteed to find your digitized documents. And also well preserved.

Good preparation

Clean up and organize archives. Shit in - shit out, is a well-known saying in the digitization industry. So pay attention to what you are going to scan.

Of course, you can choose not to invest in the cleanup phase and just scan the entire document. That doesn't seem logical, but it is sometimes efficient. How often do you expect to need the file? And how important is it that there may be unnecessary documents among them? It can be a trade-off to just scan and save everything.

On the other hand, it may be much more convenient for the future user to have a cleaned archive. Especially if you keep it for a long time and it is needed regularly, a cleaned archive is much more efficient and pleasant to work with.

How do you clean up?

  • Delete documents in files that do not belong here or are no longer relevant here.
  • Delete documents that have expired as long as they are legally retained. That cleans up and is sometimes required by law!
  • Delete duplicate documents. And throw out the drafts if they're irrelevant.
  • If you do have the files in your hands, make sure you have a clear structure that fits in with the digital working method.

Tip  Since you have to digitize anyway, it's useful to remove paper clips and staples right away.

Get informed and choose a suitable scanner

Makes perfect sense, but worth discussing. What quality do you need? What is sufficient for your objective? Avoid making a bad choice: too bad, or maybe 'over the top'. With appropriate software, you can improve a scan on various points afterwards, but if the basis is not good, then you can't improve it much. Sometimes the digitization project fits best with your multifunctional (printer-scanner in one), but especially with large quantities, a separate scanner is better: in almost all cases faster and better quality scans.

Separation of files via automatic document separation

Would you like to scan large amounts of paper archives one after the other? This can be done by using intermediate sheets with the files. Provided, of course, that the software recognizes it. You can do that with a divider sheet (in pastel color) or a sticker barcode. This then 'informs' the scanner at which points in the stack the new file starts.

The software then separates this into various digitized documents. This separation can then be checked by a user at a later stage. This process is called validation. It can then be immediately checked whether the page order is correct and whether there are still pages that need to be rotated (page rotation can also take place automatically with the help of software).

Digital improvement of digitized files with special software

Software is available, which provides automatic correction immediately after scanning. Examples include:

  1. Straightening skewed scanned pages, or deskewing.
  2. Pages rotate properly. Sometimes pages are rotated a quarter turn or half turn when scanned. The software corrects the page rotation based on the text direction.
  3. Cleaning pages with lines, like a notebook, fully automatic. Or with perforator holes.
  4. Remove white or blank pages

This digitization software can run on the PCs of the employees or centrally on a server. The latter option has a number of advantages over locally installed software. Check this with your own software administrator or supplier.

OCR

One of the most important issues surrounding efficient archival digitization is OCR: Optical Character Recognition. In other words: you don't scan the file as a photo, but as an informative document containing relevant and recognizable information. So that you can also search in and for it via Windows Explorer, for example. This way you can always find what you have saved! And it is searchable using the key combination ctrl + f. This way, you can find your search term in each individual document.

OCR software is used to convert paper documents and books into digital versions so that they can be edited and archived. Forms, letters, contracts, articles, reports and manuals can be converted into editable texts in no time at all – in a Word file, for example. There are, however, different types of OCR software, which are more or less 'smart'.

Conclusion

If you want to start digitizing archives, the above will help you on your way. Should you need professional help with this, and avoid doing work for nothing? Feel free to check out our options for digitizing your archive.

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