View Full Version : Scanning a handwritten diary to print.

06-21-2010, 05:05 AM
Help! I have fifty years of my great grandad's diaries, hand written in school work books. How is the best way to make a typed electronic copy .

06-21-2010, 05:23 AM
OCR isn't going to work on handwriting. Your only practical answer is a PDF with scanned images of the diary pages.

06-21-2010, 05:24 AM
Or a lot of typing.

06-21-2010, 06:19 AM
My suggestion would be the same as for comics: Scan each page individually, give a sequential name, zip the whole lot up and rename it to *.cbz. Voilą.

mr ploppy
06-21-2010, 07:21 AM
Pay someone to type it up.

Lady Fitzgerald
06-21-2010, 09:16 AM
A typed copy would be easier to read but wouldn't keeping a copy of the original handwriting have some historical value? Mayhap for every handwritten page, a typed equivalent on the facing page?

Unless you are a speed typist, hiring a transcriptionist would probably be the most time and cost effective.

06-21-2010, 12:48 PM
How about using voice recognition software? I think they save the output as a word document. Read a diary into the program > proof the .doc file > save as a .pdf > use Calibre to convert to whichever format you want.

06-21-2010, 12:57 PM
Why save as a pdf? I'd save as rtf, or just about anything else that Word (or OpenOffice, or whatever else you prefer) and calibre can agree on. There are more conversion problems with pdf than any other format, and you know how Microsoft is about standards.

Mike L
06-21-2010, 01:02 PM
Personally, I would type it (or pay someone to type it). A good typist should be able to create an accurate copy quickly, and can also flag any instances where the text is particularly problematic.

But if you're thinking of publishing it, it would be nice also to include copies of some of the original pages to show the context.

06-21-2010, 01:06 PM
You could try to "teach" an OCR program like ABBYY Finereader to read your granddads diaries. You can get it to be reasonably accurate (it is supplied with the Zpen and other electronic handwriting devices, so recognizing and converting handwriting is what it's for), but there will always tidying up to do.

06-21-2010, 01:06 PM
If you don't mind making the content public (and probably waiting a long time), you could pass the scans to Distributed Proofreaders (, and let them do the typing/proofreading/formatting.

06-21-2010, 01:07 PM
Why save as a pdf? I'd save as rtf, or just about anything else that Word (or OpenOffice, or whatever else you prefer) and calibre can agree on.

Point taken. I don't use Word often. I knew it could save as .pdf from posts read here at MR. I didn't know it could save as .rtf, also.

I just checked Word and see that you can also save as .txt. You could do that then use Book Designer or some such program to make chapters and links, add photo's, add a cover, etc.. With a little work, Nikkers could end up with a nice eBook to share with relatives. :)

06-22-2010, 04:02 AM
Hey thanks for all the help. I thought that as my pda has hand writing recognition there might have been a program to do it as I scanned. So TGS idea is the closest other than getting it typed.

06-23-2010, 03:22 PM
nikkers, you're forgetting that your PDA forces you to handwrite in one style, and it bases a lot of the recognition on how it's drawn (line drawn from bottom up, as opposed to top down)... These are lost with a copied document.

My great grandmother's bible is copied, scanned, etc. and we just leave it like that. It's much more personal. I sometimes type transcriptions of more jumbled bits in the margins, for clarity's sake. Original documents/copies of the original are much better than typed versions. So much more to be gained!