Adobe PDF software can access and modify text that would otherwise be trapped as an image within paper-based and PDF documents. Using its OCR (Optical Character Recognition) feature, you can easily convert typed, printed, even some clearly hand-printed text into editable and searchable data. This saves an incredible amount of human-powered reading, searching for keyword(s), and unnecessary retyping.

Take these simple steps to digitally transform a document into one that can be searched for keywords/phrases, or used to easily copy/paste a quotable passage into a new document. Note: If you need to preserve a copy of the original, unmodified document, you may want to save a new copy and OCR the new version.

  • If it is a paper document, you must first electronically scan the pages and save as a PDF document.
  • Once a PDF version is created using Adobe software, open the document and access the ‘Tools’ menu (typically in the top right corner or right side panel), and select ‘Text Recognition’ (for newer versions of Adobe, select ‘Scan and OCR’ from the Tools menu).
  • Select ‘In This File’ > then ‘All Pages’ > and click OK (for newer versions of Adobe, click ‘Recognize Text’ in the toolbar above the document > select ‘In This File’ > then click the ‘Recognize Text’ button at the top).
  • You may now use your cursor to highlight and select passages of text to copy and paste into a new document.  
  • To search the document for a keyword or phrase, type “Ctrl F” on your keyboard (or “Command F” on a Mac), and enter the desired text into the ‘Find’ field’, and it will locate and highlight all instances of the word or phrase throughout the document.
  • Be sure to save the OCR’d version as a new file in order to revisit the document and continue to search/copy-paste

LIANSwers v80, March 2023