PDFs and Bits

By M. David Stone  |  Posted 2008-02-08 Print this article Print

Scans to PDF: What Format?

If you want to scan to searchable PDFs for document management, don't assume that "scans to PDF format" means "scans to searchable PDF format." Some scanners come with software that scans directly to PDF image format only.

Scans to Searchable PDF

Even scanners with spec sheets that say they scan to searchable PDF format don't all scan directly to PDF files in a single step. Make sure that "scans to searchable PDF" means the scanner (or, more precisely, the software it comes with) scans, recognizes text and saves the file, all in one step.

30 Bits (and Up)

Claimed color depths over 24 bits are almost always the number of bits the scanner uses to describe color, not the number of different colors the scan element can detect. For most scanners, some of those bits are just noise. Fortunately, almost any scanner offers at least a true 24 bits, which is all you need for anything but transparencies, such as slides or film.


M. David Stone is an award-winning freelance writer and computer industry consultant with special areas of expertise in imaging technologies (including printers, monitors, large-screen displays, projectors, scanners, and digital cameras), storage (both magnetic and optical), and word processing. His 25 years of experience in writing about science and technology includes a nearly 20-year concentration on PC hardware and software. He also has a proven track record of making technical issues easy for non-technical readers to understand, while holding the interest of more knowledgeable readers. Writing credits include eight computer-related books, major contributions to four others, and more than 2,000 articles in national and worldwide computer and general interest publications. His two most recent books are The Underground Guide to Color Printers (Addison-Wesley, 1996) and Troubleshooting Your PC, (Microsoft Press, 2000, with co-author Alfred Poor).

Much of David's current writing is for PC Magazine, where he has been a frequent contributor since 1983 and a contributing editor since 1987. His work includes feature articles, special projects, reviews, and both hardware and software solutions for PC Magazine's Solutions columns. He also contributes to other magazines, including Wired. As Computers Editor at Science Digest from 1984 until the magazine stopped publication, he wrote both a monthly column and additional articles. His newspaper column on computers appeared in the Newark Star Ledger from 1995 through 1997.

Non-computer-related work includes the Project Data Book for NASA's Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite (written for GE's Astro-Space Division), and magazine articles and AV productions on subjects ranging from cosmology to ape language experiments. David also develops and writes testing scripts for leading computer magazines, including PC Magazine's PC Labs. His scripts have covered a wide range of subjects, including computers, scanners, printers, modems, word processors, fax modems, and communications software. He lives just outside of New York City, and considers himself a New Yorker at heart.


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