Tips for Scanning Different File Types


Scanning Basics

The act of scanning a document involves the device taking a digital image of the surface. This can leave room for quality to diminish. To understand the quality of scanning you have to understand DPI or dots per inch. A higher DPI will result in the scanned image resembling the original copy. The downside of using a higher DPI is the amount of time it takes and the data storage it takes up. In addition to physical dimensions, you must consider the resolution of the image which refers to the size of the image and your computer screen.

Selecting a File Type

  • Text: Scanning text documents is simple and does not require a high DPI. 300 DPI will work unless you are planning to reprint the text then it should be 600 DPI. It’s best to save text documents as a PDF(portable document format). If you plan to edit the text after scanning, the Optical Character Recognition (OCR) on your scanner will allow you to make changes.

  • Line Art: Line art is media without colors or shading. Save these documents as a GIF and scan at 900 DPI if you plan to reprint.

  • Grayscale: Grayscale images only need to be scanned at a 600 DPI in a PNG format and then saved as a PDF. To reduce the file size for the web save as a GIF.

  • Color: Color images are scanned the most often and require the best quality. 1200 DPI will give you archival quality color images but keep in mind anything over 1200 DPI is unnecessary. Color photos should be saved as a PNG and color documents should be saved as a PDF.

These are your most common types of documents that will be scanned and when in doubt save as a PDF as it is easily shareable between platforms. Always remember quality will be affected by the DPI and that the size of the image will restrict where you can send it.

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