Digitizing books: how to scan a book to PDF.

An office worker scans a book to PDF.

Take your learning online with these quick tips.

Learning how to scan a book to PDF and digitize your learning experience can help save your back from lugging around books and save space. With technology, you can have all the information of a textbook — and more — at the click of a button.

How to scan books to PDF easily.

There are two different main methods when it comes to scanning books to PDF.

Non-destructive book scanning.

Non-destructive book scanning is the process of scanning physical books to digital file formats without removing the back of the spine or destroying it. This process revolves around the use of a special books scanner to protect the integrity of the spine and the pages of the original book.

Destructive book scanning.

This process consists of unbinding and removing your book’s pages. This ensures precision throughout the book-scanning process. After this is done, you can scan all of the book’s content, which can take multiple days to complete. Once this is finished, you will have a high-resolution PDF file.

Practical tips for scanning books.

It probably doesn’t make sense to scan every single individual textbook page. Instead, you’ll want to be strategic about your learning efforts. Consider these tips as you go digital:

How to scan a book to PDF using Adobe Scan.

Adobe Scan allows you to simultaneously scan both the left and right pages of a bound book. The app’s book-scanning feature will help you scan an entire book in less time by scanning two pages at a time, automatically splitting the capture into separate pages.

To scan the pages of a book:

  1. Open the Adobe Scan app and tap the Camera icon.
  2. Select Book as the document type.
  3. Set the optional settings as desired.
  4. Rotate your camera to a landscape view for better capture of both sides.
  5. Align the dotted divider line to your book’s center binding and adjust the borders. The divider line and the borders automatically identify the book binding.
  6. Verify the scanning order.
  7. You can modify each page as required and tap Save PDF.

After scanning books into PDF files, how do I organize them?

After you are done scanning books into PDF files, you can organize them and rearrange their pages as you need.

To organize pages in PDF files using Adobe Acrobat, you will need to:

  1. Open the Organize Pages tool from the top menu or the right pane (Tools > Organize Pages).

  2. Select one or more page thumbnails.

  3. Use Shift to select a page range.

  4. Drag and drop pages to reorder PDF pages how you want.

  5. You can also copy a page by clicking a thumbnail and holding Ctrl while dragging and dropping it to a second location.

  6. Save your file. Select a folder or click Choose a Different Folder and navigate to the folder you want. Name your document and click Save.

You can also reorder pages for free online using Adobe Acrobat online services.

To organize your PDF books using digital folders, follow these steps:

  1. Click the Search icon.

  2. Enter a keyword in the Search box at the top of the application window.

  3. Press the Enter key.

  4. You will see a list of all the stored documents that match your search criteria.

After I digitize a book, can I mark it up and highlight it?

If you’re looking to mark up and highlight your scanned books, Adobe offers online tools that allow you to mark the desired PDF from any device with an online editor. To do this, simply follow these steps:

  1. Go to Acrobat online services from any web browser.

  2. Select the highlighter tool from the horizontal toolbox located at the top of the PDF editor.

  3. Select the desired color of your highlighter tool.

  4. Click and drag the cursor to select the text area to highlight, releasing when you’ve finished.

To annotate your digitized book, follow these steps:

  1. Open a PDF in Acrobat and select the Comment tool.

  2. Add PDF annotations to your file. You can add text boxes and sticky notes, underline text, strike through content, highlight text, and more.

  3. Save your file. You can also use the Share With Others icon to send the file to others for commenting, but only select annotation options are supported.

Benefits of scanning books to PDF.

There are various benefits when it comes to scanning your books to a PDF format. These are a few examples:

Is scanning books to PDF better in color or black and white?

Choosing between color and black-and-white scanning is important when scanning books to PDF.

There are multiple factors that you may need to consider when making this decision, although sometimes the choice is clear. For example, if your book has pictures or graphics in color, then it’s best to opt to scan in color.

Black-and-white scanning is best suited for black typeface printed on a white background or simple line art and sketches, for example. Choosing to scan files using a true black-and-white option results in significantly smaller file sizes if storage space is an issue. The trade-off for the smaller file size is a loss of detail if the book is colored. This is not the best choice for full-color photographs. If the graphic or image contains shades of gray along with black and white, then grayscale scanning is also an option.

Scanning in high-resolution full color, on the other hand, ensures all data is captured correctly but results in significantly larger file sizes. Size compression can be used to reduce file sizes, but too much compression will also reduce image quality.

Will I compromise quality when I scan a book to PDF?

As discussed above, you can choose whether to scan in black and white or color, which will affect the quality of the PDF. In addition to this, the higher resolution your scanner has, the better quality your PDF will be.

Resources to PDF your learning and organization.

Now that you’ve learned how to digitize and scan books to PDF, here are additional resources to make learning and organizing easier in general:

Learn more about how you can use Adobe Acrobat to create a convenient, paper-free learning experience.