How to Convert Scan Document to Rich Text Format

By Robert Schrader

Creating a rich text file from a scanned document is easier than you might think.
i text and words image by Lario Tus from

Transcribing a document can be a tedious task depending on how much text is involved and your typing speed or accuracy. Thankfully, "optical character recognition" (OCR) technology makes it possible for you to extract text from scanned images, which you can then copy and paste directly into the text document of your choice, including the "rich text file" format. If you have the full version of Adobe Acrobat Reader, you can do this within the program. Otherwise, you can use a free, online service.

Using Acrobat Pro

Launch Acrobat and click "Create PDF." Select the "From Scanner" option and tick the "Make Searchable (Run OCR)" box under the "Text Recognition and Metadata" heading.

Click the "Options" button and select "Searchable Image" from the "Output" menu, then click "OK" to scan.

Once your scan is completed, use the default "Select" tool to highlight, copy and paste your text into WordPad or NotePad. Review your text and save your document in .rtf format.

Using free software

Scan your image onto your computer's hard drive using the software that comes with your scanner. Your output format is not important, whether your choose PDF or .JPG.

Point your web browser to one the links listed in the "Resources" section. Select your image from your computer's hard drive and click "Upload" to transmit your information onto the website's server.

Decide on an output format. While all of these services will allow you to convert directly to RTF, you might want to opt for plain text, as the text format cannot support any formatting inaccuracies the OCR picks up.

Select and copy your text from the website. Open a blank WordPad or Notepad (Text Editor if you're on a Mac) document. Paste your text into the document. Review your document and correct any inaccuracies.

Hold down the "Ctrl" and "S" ("Command" and "S" on a Mac) keys at the same time to open a "Save" dialog box. Select "Rich Text Format" (.rtf) from the output options and click "Save" to save your file.