How to Scan a Page That I Can Write On

by Clare Edwards
Annotate scanned files freehand or by adding typed text.

Annotate scanned files freehand or by adding typed text.

Scanned documents can be saved in different formats depending on your requirements. One option is to save the file as an image, then write annotations on this using image editing software. If you need to edit the document as text, it's possible to use optical character recognition (OCR) to convert it into TXT, RTF, DOC or other formats, allowing you to add more writing. Pages scanned as PDFs can be edited, annotated or signed in a number of different ways.

Scanning as an Image

Perhaps the simplest method of scanning a page so you can write on it is to scan your document and save it as an image file. Your scanner or scanning software will allow you to save scans as JPG, TIFF or other image file types. Open the document in an image editing program such as Microsoft Paint to add annotations; alternatively, use a Web-based image editor such as Fotoflexer, Pixlr, or Pixenate. Type using the text tool or write freehand using the pencil or brush tools. If you write freehand, a graphics tablet or touchscreen may give better results than a mouse.

Optical Character Recognition

To capture text from a printed document or an image file, you need optical character recognition (OCR) software. OCR frequently introduces errors into the document which you'll need to correct. The clearer your original documents and the higher the scanning resolution, the scarcer the errors will be. Many scanners have OCR functionality built in. Scanning software often features OCR, as does note-taking software such as Microsoft OneNote. You can also use Web-based OCR tools like, or Any of these can be used to create an editable text document that you can add notes or extra writing to.

Scanning as a PDF

Saving your scanned pages as PDFs gives you a range of additional possibilities for adding text or freehand notes to your documents. Adobe Acrobat XI offers extensive PDF editing functionality. Alternatives include the free Foxit Reader, PDFCool Studio and RepliGo PDF Reader for mobile platforms. All of these enable you to add additional text to scanned documents by placing a text box on the page in the location where you want to write.

Securely Signing PDFs

Sometimes you might want to write on a scanned page to add your signature. While you can do this in other document formats, PDFs offer more options for secure, legally valid document signing. Adobe's EchoSign is one example, using email verification to ensure the signers' identity. Once logged into the service, you have the option to sign and date your scanned document in a variety of different styles before sending it electronically. Alternatives to EchoSign include DocuSign and Signsquid. All of these offer a limited number of free signatures.

About the Author

Clare Edwards has been providing Internet content since 1998. She has written and translated for a variety of markets: everything from technical articles to short fiction and essays on alternative spirituality. She holds a certificate of higher education in electronics and audio arts from Middlesex University.

Photo Credits

  • photo_camera Thomas Northcut/Photodisc/Getty Images