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Best OCR Software
6 min read

What is Optical Character Recognition (OCR)?

Lawyers deal with lots of jargon and acronyms, but one term your legal team must understand in 2022 is OCR. Simply put, Optical Character Recognition (OCR) technology reads text from images. With OCR, you can convert PDFs, faxes, and even photographs of documents into searchable text files. Let your team edit and search a document, even if it’s a blurry scan or photo.

It’s the secret ingredient to legal technology you didn't know you needed. Locked, scanned PDFs can be a huge headache for legal teams because you can’t do a control-F search to find key terms and information in the document. In this blog series, we will break down what OCR is, why you need it, and an overview of what’s on the market today.

What is OCR?

As stated, Optical Character Recognition (OCR) can read the text in images. Using OCR software you can convert scanned PDFs, faxes, or photographs of documents into regular, searchable text files. What once was a snapshot of a contract taken on a blurry smartphone camera becomes a conventional Microsoft Word document that’s ready for fresh redlines. 

The Breakdown

OCR software differs slightly in how they process characters. Here are some of the basics:

First, the scanner analyzes the structure of the document for the dark and light areas,
distinguishing the characters from the background as well as separating images, tables, etc.
Then, the software analyzes the document by dividing words from each other and then
individual characters. Lastly, when the characters are detected it is turned into code that
computers can further manipulate so that we can easily read and proof the documents.

 

OCR Software

OCR software uses two main methods to determine the correct characters on the page –  pattern recognition and feature detection. Combining these methods with a layer of artificial intelligence (AI) is what makes the most accurate OCR programs.

  • Pattern recognition: This method is where the OCR software has been trained to recognize specific fonts (Arial, Times, Courier, etc.). This is helpful if all your documents are in those fonts, but that is never guaranteed.
  • Feature detection: This is breaking down a letter into lines and strokes. Take the letter “A”, you have two angled lines that meet at the top and a horizontal line connecting them in the middle. Most of the time, regardless of font, that shape will be detected as a capital “A.”

 

Many OCR solutions use AI that has been fed thousands of images to learn characters and fonts to easily detect them. Every legal team needs an OCR tool so that scanned or faxed agreements can be brought into modern contract management and analysis solutions. 

Now that you’ve got a base foundation of what OCR is, it’s time to dive into why choosing the right OCR solution for your legal team is critical. We’ll be back on the blog next week with a post explaining just that. Can’t wait? Download this eBook today.

 

And, if you want to learn more about the contract lifecycle management (CLM) solution with the most advanced OCR on the market, schedule a demo of LinkSquares today. 

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Alyssa Verzino is a Content Marketing Manager at LinkSquares.