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Old 05-17-2007, 07:21 AM   #1
Bill Murmann
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Default Can Scanning Eliminate Keyboarding?

I've worked for years with a DTP service to produce a monthly 8-page tabloid newspaper for one of my customers.

I'm the researcher, writer, editor and designer. Currently, I e-mail Word files of everything I write to my DTP service. I copyfit all my work so that it fits the page layout precisely.

Some of the articles for the paper, however, are written by people who give me hard copy, which I edit, mark up, estimate for copyfitting, and give to the DTP service for keyboarding. The amount of hardcopy varies, but it probably averages about 30 or so typewritten pages per month.

Delivering the hard copy and page layouts requires driving and physically giving the material to the DTP service. Since we are located about an hour away from each other in different counties, we both drive and meet at a halfway point for the delivery. It requires about an hour round trip for both of us.

Over the years, we shifted to using computers and e-mail as much as possible. I get the page proofs, for example, by e-mail as a PDF file.

Would it be possible to scan typewritten hardcopy that has been edited with red ink into a text file that could be e-mailed to the DTP service for production?

We are thinking this might be a way to eliminate the driving that we do every month for the hardcopy pickup.

We also are wondering if there would be a way to scan and e-mail my layout sheets. I design the paper, create the layout with photos and text, and write the headlines, etc.

I have been using full-size, 5-column tabloid paste-up sheets to do the layouts. Articles and photos are identified by numbers, letters, and file names for positioning. Everything, including advertising, is copyfitted.

The DTP service follows my layout on the paste-up sheets. We have perfected the process to the point that everything falls into place and goes together smoothly like a jigsaw puzzle.

The DTP service uses Quark Express. Once I make corrections on the page proofs and give an OK, they e-mail the paper to a printer in another county for production and mailing.

The whole production process runs like clockwork every month. The printer knows exactly when he will get the paper and has press time scheduled, etc.

We already scan photos, but can we use scanning the hardcopy and layout sheets to improve our process?

One of the things I'm concerned about is that scanning 30 or so pages of hardcopy every month might mean less work for the DTP service, but a lot more work for me.

I've never scanned text into files before, so I'm not familiar with the pros and cons. I'd appreciate any suggestions. Thanks.

--Bill
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Old 05-17-2007, 01:29 PM   #2
Michael Rowley
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Bill:

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Would it be possible to scan typewritten hardcopy that has been edited with red ink into a text file that could be e-mailed to the DTP service for production?
There are a number of very good OCR programs that convert scanner readings of text into Word and other WP programs, so if you edit the Word document prepared by scanning original typewritten copy, there's no difficulty.

Most good scanners are sold with an OCR program, but it's often not the latest version of the OCR program. Among the good OCR programs are IRIS and Abbye (both German, I think).








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Old 05-17-2007, 02:09 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by Bill Murmann View Post
I've never scanned text into files before, so I'm not familiar with the pros and cons. I'd appreciate any suggestions.
There are OCR programs that can read typed hard copy pretty accurately (say to the 90% level, and most of the errors will be caught by a run of the spelling checker).

There are scanners with document feeders that make the scanning of 30 pages go quickly. Otherwise, you would have to place each page, retrieve it, place another, and so on.

Then the procedure would be to read the results, make sure the text is all there and fix any errors.

OCR does very well if the image is clear and sharp, and straight on the page. Originals work better than photo-copies (and much better than faxes). Some fonts work better than others. Most of the OCR software I have used works well with Courier, Helvetica (and I would expect Arial today), and Times.

OCR systems do not read handwritten notations or corrections. But why couldn’t you just make the necessary corrections in the OCR’d file, and send that to them by e-mail in plain text?

I guess you could scan your marked-up layouts, save them as PDFs, and e-mail them. You would need a large scanner (or have to piece together multiple scans) to include the markup and other details that might need to be placed outside the page itself.

   
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Old 05-17-2007, 02:54 PM   #4
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bill: Would it be possible to scan typewritten hardcopy that has been edited with red ink into a text file that could be e-mailed to the DTP service for production?
Sorta...'-}}

An OCR (optical character recognition) program used when scanning can "convert" the scanned hardcopy text into digitial text but you're not going to get your red ink corrections.

What I'd suggest is to OCR the raw text and then do your corrections using whatever you want--Word???--and then save in whatever format is appropriate and email it...


>>We also are wondering if there would be a way to scan and e-mail my layout sheets. I design the paper, create the layout with photos and text, and write the headlines, etc.

What about creating a PDF file and then emailing that?

OR!!!

Scan your layout sheets and save as a high quality JPG and email that? You might have to get a relatively expensive scanner to scan tabloid size but you may be able to fudge it on a "regular" size scanning bed with scans for each "section" of the layout paper and then in an image editing program (Photoshop, PSP, whatever), put the pieces together and save as one file?


>>One of the things I'm concerned about is that scanning 30 or so pages of hardcopy every month might mean less work for the DTP service, but a lot more work for me.

Yes! I think you are right...'-}}


>>I've never scanned text into files before, so I'm not familiar with the pros and cons. I'd appreciate any suggestions. Thanks.

I've only done it once for my brother-in-law's CV--he's a research cardiologist and his CV ran to about 25 pages with all the article citations--and it wasn't all that bad as the OCR software (came with my scanner) was about 90% accurate and this was 8-9 years ago so you may find that the accuracy rate has improved.

If you go this route, you'd probably want to see if you can add a document feeder to your scanner as it would make things MUCH easier!

Hope that helps...

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Old 05-17-2007, 05:34 PM   #5
Bill Murmann
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There are OCR programs that can read typed hard copy pretty accurately (say to the 90% level, and most of the errors will be caught by a run of the spelling checker)...(etc.)...
Kathleen,

Sounds like scanning would not be a time-saver for me--although it would probably save quite a bit of time for my DTP service.

Looks like I might be better off sticking with my current methods...(??)

However, I don't mind considering new and improved procedures.

When I was young and starting out in the newspaper business, I met a number of "old-timers" who never adjusted very well to new ways of doing things.

Now that I'm chronologically an "old-timer", I don't want to be one of those guys who can't accept changes in technology. <s>

--Bill
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Old 05-17-2007, 05:44 PM   #6
Bill Murmann
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...(etc.)...Hope that helps...
Very definitely! Thanks, Terrie.

I think I'll stick with my current production methods for the time being. Everything I've read so far sounds too complicated and labor intensive.

Our DTP service is being paid for keyboarding whatever hard copy I send--including my red-ink editing. That seems like the most straightforward method.

Perhaps this is a case of "If it ain't broke, don't "fix" it." <s>

--Bill
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Old 05-17-2007, 05:52 PM   #7
Bill Murmann
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...so if you edit the Word document prepared by scanning original typewritten copy, there's no difficulty...
Typewritten copy is part of the problem. I get material from contributors that is often in poor condition. If I have to retype it so that it will work in a scanner and OCR program, then I might as well just type it straight into a Word file.

Keyboarding someone else's material is probably my least favorite task. I'd much rather pay our DTP service to do it. Fortunately, we have someone who is very good--a former teacher, who produces very clean copy. She hardly ever makes a mistake. I almost enjoy proofreading her work. <s>

Looks like scanning might not be right for me.

--Bill
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Old 05-17-2007, 08:52 PM   #8
Bill Murmann
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Terrie,

I received your private message, but I couldn't figure out how to reply to it. The reply function was not very intuitive. (??) I still have things to learn about navigating the forum.

Thanks again, though, for your suggestions.

--Bill
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Old 05-18-2007, 07:36 AM   #9
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Bill:

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I get material from contributors that is often in poor condition
I'd say that you're rather lax about waving the editor's big stick! But the '90%' correct mentioned by several forum members is more than 99% in my experience: 90% would mean one letter wrong in every two words on average. The things that put an OCR off are pen and pencil marks, which it struggles to interpret letters (and fails, of course).

A scanner is always useful, so why not get one and try it out? The OCRs usually provided are adequate for English; the better ones boast of how many languages they can deal with.

   
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Old 05-18-2007, 10:48 AM   #10
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bill: Perhaps this is a case of "If it ain't broke, don't "fix" it." <s>
Exactly...'-}}

By the way...there is always the postal system for mailing paperwork...obviously it will cost you postage but take a look at Priority Mail Flat Rate Envelopes which can be sent anywhere in the US no matter what the weight for $4.60 and it's amazing what you can stuff into these envelopes--they are the size of a large-ish manila envelope. You can print the postage paid label via the USPS site online--I use it all the time and it's great...print the label on my laser printer--and then you can either drop it off at the post office or any mail box or the mail person will pick it up for you.

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