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Digitize Your Sources (DIY)

A library guide to DIY tools and resources for digitizing sources in preparation for digital scholarship.

OCR and Adobe Acrobat Pro DC

Adobe Acrobat Pro DC uses OCR software to to convert scanned documents into editable/searchable documents. All login computers in Howard-Tilton Memorial Library have Adobe Acrobat Pro DC installed.

Below are instructions for:

  • Turning your scanned PDFs to searchable documents while maintaining original image fidelity. 
  • Creating PDFs from other file formats such as Word docs or JPEG and TIFF image files. 
  • Converting your PDFs to editable text. You can use this automatic OCR function if you want to manipulate text and images in your document. This function does decrease the number of pixels in your image so it's best to have a backup copy of your original high-quality scan.

How to Make Your PDF Files Searchable

How to create a PDF from text and image files:

  1. Click Tools and then click the Create PDF tool to easily convert your file to PDF.
  2. Select the file and click Open. Acrobat will display a preview of your file.
  3. Click Create. Acrobat creates and opens the PDF file, saving it in the same location and with the same name as the original file but with a .pdf extension.
How to convert scanned PDFs to instantly editable text using automatic OCR software in Acrobat:


  1. Open a PDF file containing a scanned image in Acrobat.
  2. Click on the Edit PDF tool in the right pane. Acrobat automatically applies optical character recognition (OCR) to your document and converts it to a fully editable copy of your PDF. Note: this process can take anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes, depending on the size of your document.
  3. Click the text element you wish to edit and start typing. New text matches the look of the original fonts in your scanned image.
  4. Choose File > Save As and type a new name for your editable document.
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