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DIGITAL SCANNING and GENEALOGY

Below is a sceen shot of the user interface on the scanning program for my HP scanner.
 
Though each scanner will have a different interface - the general over all flow will be very similar as well as the options provided.
I hereby include it with some helpful notes  - expecting that others who are just learning how to use a scanner may find this information helpful.
 

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1)  Output Options. Each scanning program will have a means by which the user can select what type of scan they need to perform. Most programs will have an option for scanning each image to an individual image file (in formats such as  jpg/bmp/png files) - each scan a new/distinct output file .  Another option often provided is to scan the output to a multipage pdf document (this would allow for placing multiple scans into one single output document).  Your software may also have other output options but these two are the most common. 

OCR is beyond the scope of this information for "newbies" - but allows you to scan a text document in - and instead of storing it as an image - the scanner actually reads the text and converts it into a computer readable text (that you could edit with a word processor).  Can be very nice - - but beyond the scope of this basic instruction set.

2) Document Size. Most scanners will have an option for selecting the size of the document being scanned.  But in most cases you are best off just leaving the default (entire page scan) and then using image editing software afterwards to "crop" the output image down to just the real size of the item being scanned.

3) Color Mode.  Most scanners will also have an option for selecting whether you are scanning something in color or black and white.  Some programs may allow you to change these same parameters by asking you whether you are scanning a color photo, a black and white photo, a black and white sketch, or a text document.  Other programs, in contrast, may give you a selection between "Color / Grey Scale / Black and White".  Scanning of Photos should always be done with either "color" or "gray scale" (the latter for black and white photos). The "black and white" option should only be used on plain black and white text documents being scanned.  You may try scanning a photo in all three modes - to get an idea of what the output looks like.

4) Resolution.   Each scanner will have an option for determining the desired "resolution" at which the scanner should copy/photograph the image being scanned.  The default setting though, for most scaners - will usually be high enough to handle tthe average scan whether photo or text. Keep in mind though the higher the resolution - the more information the scan is recording about the image it is copying.  The higher the resoltuon - the greater in size will be the output file. Bigger files will be more "wieldy" to handle/transfer/email. The resolution of 200 dpi (the default on many scanners)  - should be high enough for most scanning jobs, going below 150 dpi is not recomended, for high qulaity scans where you really want to extract all the fine detail from the original into the digital copy - you may go as high as 600 dpi.  If for example you are creating archival copies of family photos - you may wish to use 300 or 600 dpi. If you are scanning a very small photo - which you intend to blow up to see the detail - you will also want to use this higher resolution.  Going above 600 dpi is not recomended though scanners will allow it - the processing time, memory required, and the output file size will quickly get to the point that you may crash your computer ( but nothing a reboot cant fix though).
 

5) Input Mode.  Many scanners will have both a flat bed glass mode of scanning as well as allowing the user to place a set of papers into a paper feed and having the scanner automatically pull from this paper feed.  The paer feed is really nice especially if you are generating a multi-page pdf document.   Be aware, however, that each page scanned to a single file - is incrementally increasing the size of the output file.  A general rule is that you should keep files that you will share with others under the size of 10MB and unless you have really fast internet even 5MB may be too much to send via email. For multi-page scanning at 200dpi - you probably want to stay below like 30 pages - or again you may end up with a file too large to handle - or a scanning process your computer will struggle with.  (of course you wont know until after the scan how large the outpot file was - but with repeated use - you will get a general idea of what file sizes will be with certain paremters set.

6) SCAN.   Most scanning programs will show you a screen like the one shown, allowing you to select your desired settings - and then a "SCAN" button that allows you to indicate to the computer that you want it to proceed with the scanning process.  


7) More Options.  Most programs will keep their interface simple and try to hide the more complex or less used options.  You may find a button or link to advanced options.  You may also see a way of "restoring" default settings - helpful if you changed so many things you cant remember - and you  just want to restore it to the way it was at the beginning.

 

A few helpful tips:

Practice makes Perfect.   Play around a bit.  see how changing the various settings effects your outcome. Experiment.

Dirt Cheap Scanners are dirt cheap  - and you can buy a printer/copier/scanner/fax for probably under $100.00.  The image quality of a $100.00 scanner and a $500 scanner will be near identical. It will be things like quality of hardware, speed, reliability, and software and options included that will make the difference in cost.

A Mentor Find a friend or mentor that can get you started in your scanning.  Scanning is pretty easy repetitive process. Its NOT rocket science. BUT to provide you with a positive experience in your beginnings of scanning and to avoide frustration - I highly suggest working with someone else - especially  if you are not someone that feels very computer savvy.

Organization   Organize the way you store your scanned images.  If you just use random names and store the files in random locations on yoru computer - you will quickly end up with a mess.

Keep It Clean.  Every day that you do scanning - start by cleaning off the glass of the scanner with Windex. Scans will amplify the image of dust on the glass - and you will begin to note specs on your imges.

Flat against the glass.   When you scan book pages and other similar items - be sure and press the paper flat to the glass. Any part of the document that is not flat on the glass will show out of focus. 

Avoid BMP.   Avoid the BMP image format option - for scanners it creates UNCOMPRESSED file images which are so huge they are hard to do anything with.

Memorizing versus Understanding

Many of the older generation - often were taught to learn things by rote memorization.  
Learning how to use a computer, an operating system like Windows, a word processer like WORD, or a device like a scanner - won't come easy if all your are doing is memorizing the steps.  More important is to understand why these steps are there and how the use of a computer system  is a two way communication - with both you and the computer using various modes of communication (much of which is akin to "body language" in human verbal communication).    Becoming familiar with the cues and modes of this human-machine communication will be key in successfully learning (and adapting) to the forever changing world of using a computer

Watch these videos:

Uploading family photos to Family Search Family Tree

Top 5 mistakes when scanning

A sample Scanning Project

How to use the Scanner

HAVE FUN!

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