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Tips For Scanning Your Company’s Documents

Updated on June 23, 2013

Document Scanning

Five Tips For Scanning Your Company’s Documents

Where you’re a sole trader or run a small business, it is very likely that you’ll have a ton of paperwork to deal with on a regular basis. To help themselves manage, many small businesses make digital copies of any paperwork they receive and either store or dispose of the hard copy accordingly.

This method means all the relevant documents and files can be easily arranged, stored and pulled out with the need to manually sort through dozens of drawers and filing cabinets. At the click of a button, records can be pulled up, modified, saved and sent all around the world.

Whilst document scanning may seem like an easy task, there are a number of ways companies can get it wrong. Failure to adequately copy and image files could leave their integrity compromised, something that is particularly important to avoid for legal documents and contracts.

To avoid that situation and ensure all your company’s files are imaged to a high quality, stored safely and are easy to organise, here are five scanning tips to follow.

1. Image Quality

It is important to understand how many dots per inch (DPI) a particular document will require to be of an adequate quality. A higher DPI means higher quality scans, but at the expense of time and computer storage.

For text documents, 600 DPI should be adequate even if the document is to be reprinted. Images will typically not require above 1200 DPI.

2. File Type

Typically black & white images would be scanned in Tiff file format with Group 4 compression, these files would have the *.tif file extension, should the files need to be in PDF format a post process conversion would be required, it is always advisable to convert a tiff file to a pdf file, it is easier to perform image manipulation on a tiff file rather than on the pdf file. These files would typically be scanned at 200 dpi, should OCR (Optical Character Recognition) be a requirement then it is advisable to scan the images at 300 dpi to aid in the recognition and produce better searchable results.

Colour images are also typically scanned in Tiff file format, compression would be applied by the scanning software, for the best results (both image and file size) it is advisable to use Tiff file format with Jpeg compression (Type 6 Technical Note 2) with 200 dpi.

3. Naming Conventions

To ensure your documents are easy to find once stored in your company’s file directories it is advisable to use a common naming convention throughout. The convention itself is up you but it is important to use it consistently.

An example may be to assign a two letter code to each type of document your company deals with. The relevant code could then be attached as a prefix to every document.

For example, if the code ‘IV’ was assigned to invoices, an invoice to J. Bloggs Ltd. On 4th July 2012 may be named: IV_040712_JBoggsLtd.PDF.

4. File Directory Structure

Perhaps more important than the naming convention, your company’s file structure should be logical and consistent to ensure you and your employees can navigate it efficiently.

Starting with between three to five main folders, arrange subfolders sensibly and ensure files are saved accordingly. Failure to do this will result in a document structure that resembles a pile of records on your office floor.

5. Best Practises

The actual process of document scanning is important too. Ensure whoever is responsible for scanning is methodical and careful as rushing can compromise scanning quality. Ensuring scanned documents are suitably marked and filed, for example, will ensure the process is effectual and efficient.


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