Optical Character Recognition (OCR)

Optical Character Recognition (OCR) is a pioneering technology that makes manual text recognition obsolete and significantly increases efficiency in various industries. OCR enables the automatic conversion of printed or handwritten text into machine-readable text, and this has a significant impact on the way we interact with information.

What is OCR?

OCR is the technology that enables computers to recognise printed or handwritten characters and convert them into editable text. These advances in text recognition mean a drastic reduction in human intervention when digitising documents.

How does OCR work?

Let’s say you’ve received a handwritten letter from a friend and want to edit it on your computer. You scan the letter and open your OCR programme. Here’s what happens:

  1. First, the software analyses the layout of the letter. It recognises where the text and any drawings are located, remembers their position on the page and counts the paragraphs and special elements such as the date or signatures.
  2. Then the tricky part begins. The software looks at the blocks of text and breaks them down into sentences. These sentences are then broken down into individual words and finally into letters.
  3. The OCR programme has already learned patterns of letters and characters. Now it compares the scanned letters with these patterns. If the match is high, the algorithm says that this is most likely the correct letter. It is very accurate and can compare many patterns in a short time, so it can even distinguish between similar letters, such as a “c” and an “e”.
  4. In this way, all letters and characters are gradually recognised. They are then put together to form words and returned to their original position in the letter. As soon as the software is finished, you can save the letter as a normal document and edit it as you wish. That’s it!

What is OCR software used for and where?

  1. Digital archiving: OCR is widely used in digital archiving. Paper documents can be easily converted into searchable digital files, making document management much easier.
  2. Text extraction: OCR is used in medicine, law and research to extract important information from printed or handwritten documents. This speeds up access to relevant data and improves the accuracy of research.

  3. Automated data entry: companies use OCR to optimise automated data entry processes. Invoices, forms and other business documents can be easily converted into digital formats, resulting in less manual intervention. This saves time and minimises errors.
  4. Accessibility: OCR contributes to the creation of accessible content by converting printed text into electronically readable text. This is particularly important for people with visual impairments.


Overall, OCR enables more efficient use of information in a variety of applications. The continuous development of this technology promises even more precise and versatile text recognition in the future. OCR is not only a tool for automation, but also a key component for digital transformation in various sectors.

Image credits: Header- & Featured image by Freepik