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What is the Best Format For Scanned Documents?

Businesses use many different types of documents and document scanning can be done for just about all of them. Because so many types of documents exist, several kinds of files have also been created to store, process, and use them most effectively.

You’ve probably heard of the most common file types, such as PNGs, JPGs, and PDFs. But when should you use one instead of the other? What is the best format for scanned documents, and are the people you’re sending them to equipped to use those files? This article will guide you through which file formats you should be using for different types of files and how they impact the way you can use them.

Best Format for Scanned Documents With Text: PDF

A PDF file is among the most commonly used file types. This file type is great for documents with text, forms, and images that contain words. Certain programs use OCR technology to make the characters in the document searchable and editable. PDFs can even be used for images since they include automatic image compression.

Best Format for Scanned Documents With Images: JPG or JPEG

JPEGs are great for images because they can compress very large files down to a small size. This is achieved by using what’s called lossy compression, a process that extracts some of a file’s data in order to decrease the storage demand. Because lossy compression removes data from the original file, lines can show up poorly (such as logos and other graphics with lines) so it’s best to use JPEGs for files without those attributes.

Other File Formats for Scanned Documents:


PNG (Portable Network Graphics)

PNG files were actually created as a workaround for GIF files, which were owned by a company that charged licensing fees for usage. PNG files are mostly for digital image files and they utilize document compression, but not as much as JPEGs do. But, if you’re scanning a document with text in it or lines then PNGs can be good because they’re considered “lossless”, meaning they will produce a less pixelated file.

TIF or TIFF (Tagged Image File Format)

TIFs are great for files that you don’t want compressed, because you want every bit of the data in your document. Because of this, TIF files tend to be very large, but they will hold much more detail than other file types. With the larger file size, you also get more flexibility when it comes to color and content. Colors can be grayscale, printable CMYK and even RGB for the internet. Your content can also be stored with layers and tags intact.

Choosing The Best File Type

So, which file type should you be using? PDF and TIFF files are commonly used and accepted when it comes to files that are large, need to be kept intact, and that you want to be able to store without losing the ability to manipulate and edit elements of the file later on. If working in the file is not as important to you and you’re more concerned with the amount of space the document will take up, then the best choices will be JPG and PNG files. All four of these are commonly used and should be compatible with most recipients.

To find out about more document scanning options, contact ILM today.

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