Understanding the Jargon of Document Scanning

Trying to choose a reliable document scanning provider can be a daunting task. There is so much jargon and technical terms you need to decipher when choosing the right provider. Not all document scanning services are the same so understanding the jargon can help you to see what you are actually getting for your money.

Below are some explanations of common document management terms:

Document Index

In document scanning the document index is the data field that will make up the file name of a scanned document. The index can be made up of single or multiple data fields however longer file names can lead to higher scanning costs. An example of a single field would be an invoice being indexed by invoice number. For multiple fields an example could be hospital records having an index of surname, first name, and hospital number.


OCR is short for Optical character recognition and is the process where software is used to turn an electronic document into a searchable file. Once this process has been applied to a document then a simple search can give access to almost all of the content of the entire document archive. OCR is an important choice to make as it can determine the work flow of a document management system.


DPI or dots per inch refers to the density of the dots when an image is scanned. We would recommend a DPI of 300 as a minimum for document scanning. Lower DPI can lower the visual quality of text in an electronic document.


PDF stands for Portable Document Format it was originally created in the 1990s by Adobe. It is the file format of choice for most document management systems. PDF format supports black & white, greyscale, and colour images and can be further enhanced using OCR software.


Tiff is short for Tag Image File Format, originating from mid-1980s it is a common file format output from a scanner. Tends to be associated with older software / systems when it comes to document management. Offers support for black & white, greyscale, and colour images and typically gives better image quality than JPEG format.


JPEG is named after the Joint Photographic Experts Group committee who created the file format in the 1990s. JPEG format is very rarely used for professional document scanning as information is lost due to the way a JPEG file is compressed.

If you have any questions regarding document scanning or document management get in touch and we would be happy to help.