How to Scan a Business Card & Add It to Outlook
By Danielle Fernandez
An accurate contact list is a fundamental building block of efficient business practice, but maintaining a current and complete one can be difficult. Companies reorganize, customers move, telephone numbers change -- a few pieces of out-of-date information could mean you're sending correspondences to incorrect individuals, causing delays in communication or even losing a client's business altogether. Scanning business cards into your Outlook contacts is a quick means of inputting the information into your computer, plus it promotes a paperless, clutter-free office. You can do it quickly with a business card scanner designed specifically for the job or, with a couple of extra steps, using a flatbed scanner you'd use for larger-scale documents.
Using a Business Card Scanner
Connect the business card scanner using a USB cable and power the device on.
Install the software that came with the scanner. The program will extract information from the business cards and input it into the correct contact fields on your computer.
Insert a business card into the scanner so it can begin to extract the contact information. Simple business cards might only take a few seconds, but a complex, graphic-heavy card with fancier text could take longer.
Confirm that the extracted contact information has been entered accurately in the appropriate fields. Make edits where necessary.
Export the contact information as a CSV file or synchronize with Outlook using the scanner software. Check your device's manual for further information about this step.
Using a Flatbed Scanner
Determine if your scanning software allows you to import scans using OCR format. If you're not sure, check the scanning options. You should be able to select "OCR" as your preferred scan format (in lieu of JPG or PDF). OCR technology allows a user to scan documents, save them to a computer and then edit -- or for this purpose, copy and paste -- the text content.
Download and install OCR software if you do not already have it. Use your favorite search engine to locate one with the features and price that work best for you. Microsoft OneNote for desktop later than version 2007 includes OCR capabilities.
Lay the business cards on the flatbed of the scanner, maximizing your available scanning space by placing several of them as close together as possible.
Launch the scanning program or OCR software.
Initiate the scan, taking note of where the final scanned document will be saved.
Open up the text document and review the information scanned for accuracy. You might have to add or edit if the scanner had trouble picking up information from a card with heavy graphics or curvy fonts.
Copy and paste the information into individual contact listings in Outlook.
Items you will need
Business card reader or flatbed scanner
OCR software (if using a flatbed scanner)
Always double-check the extracted details before you finalize your scanned information into Outlook. Scanners often have trouble deciphering fancy fonts or cards with a lot of graphics.
Based in Tampa, Fla., Danielle Fernandez been writing, editing and illustrating all things technology, lifestyle and education since 1999. Her work has appeared in the Tampa Tribune, Working Mother magazine, and a variety of technical publications, including BICSI's "Telecommunications Distribution Methods Manual." Fernandez holds a bachelor's degree in English from the University of South Florida.