How OCR helps you translate text.

Learn how OCR technology turns flat images and PDFs into documents your translation tools can understand.

A translator’s job isn’t easy — capturing the nuances of foreign languages can be daunting. Digital tools, like translation memories and other software, make this task a bit easier. But they all rely on your computer being able to read the text in your documents.

What if you receive the original text as a flat PDF or an image? This is where OCR comes to your rescue. Read on to learn how OCR can help translate text to other languages.

Turn images into editable documents.

Optical character recognition — or OCR — is a technology that converts scanned PDFs or images into machine-readable text. For example, think of a scanned image of a book page. OCR can make the text on the page readable to computers, allowing you to edit it directly.

An OCR-capable application reads flat documents and identifies the shapes of the letters. It then recreates the text in a machine-readable format. Some OCR applications can even recognize and replicate different fonts.

OCR can be a priceless translation tool. If you receive flat PDFs — or even printed paper pages — to translate, you can turn them into machine-readable documents and feed them into your translation software.

Translate text faster with OCR.

If you want to try OCR, you have several options. Full-featured PDF editing applications often have OCR tools that let you recognize text with a click of a mouse.

You may also be able to convert your original document into a PDF. Some PDF converters do an OCR check during the process, so they’re worth trying. You can also digitize physical papers into machine-readable PDFs with an OCR-capable scanner or mobile scanner app.

With these OCR tools, you no longer have to worry about documents your translation applications can’t read. Let OCR scan the text first, and then you can get back to work.