Best Practices to Scan Large-format Documents

by | Published on Jul 18, 2023 | Document Conversion / Scanning Services

In today’s digital age, scanning large-format documents has become increasingly important due to the need for easy access to information and limited storage space. Whether you’re dealing with architectural blueprints, engineering drawings, maps, or historical records, these large documents contain valuable information that needs to be preserved and made readily available. Document scanning services offer a practical and efficient solution for digitizing large documents, ensuring their long-term preservation and accessibility.

Storing large-sized documents takes up a lot of space. These documents are delicate and are often stored in large storage boxes or cupboards. This leads to deterioration of these documents. Organizing and accessing them becomes a hassle. Converting these large documents into digital format allows for storage in the cloud or other storage devices. It also simplifies organization, access, and sharing of these documents.

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What Are Large Format Documents?

Any document larger than A4 (8.3″ x 11.7″) is typically considered a large format document when it comes to scanning. Digitizing these materials often requires specialized scanning equipment. While there are several widely accepted paper size standards, in the US, ANSI and ARCH (architectural drawing sizes) are the most common formats for large print publications.

The most typical types of large format documents include:

  • Architectural layouts
  • Masterplans and building blueprints
  • Engineering diagrams
  • Large non- standard book pages
  • Maps
  • Newspapers
  • Paintings and posters
  • Certificates or Awards
  • CAD files
  • Medical images such as X Rays, CT-Scans, MRIs

Industries That Need Large Document Scanning

  • Construction and engineering: These industries regularly work with complex documents such as architectural drawings, site plans, maps, or blueprints. Scanning these documents is essential for providing remote teams, surveyors, and the vendor ecosystem with access to the most recent authorized project documentation. It also facilitates quick workflows, helps construction teams complete projects on time, avoid costly errors, and reduces the expenses associated with producing and transporting paper documents between locations.
  • Government agencies and public sector agencies: Digitizing citizen records is crucial for local government organizations to adapt to changing needs. Scanning government records, including old land records, maps, legal papers, city master plans, and drawings for infrastructure projects, ensures compliance with long-term record retention policies and regulations. Specialized large format scanning services are necessary to adhere to strict data security and compliance guidelines for government projects.
  • Legal industry: Document scanning helps the legal and justice industries maintain confidence, security, and confidentiality. Large format legal documents, such as contracts, agreements, property records, and antique birth records of peculiar sizes, require specialized scanning equipment and careful handling. Cloud storage made possible by digitization allows law firms and justice department offices to save money on office space, as well as paper and printing costs.
  • Architectural firms and departments of urban planning: Architects and city planners work with large-sized maps, building blueprints, layouts, schematics, and drawings, requiring specialized scanning equipment, similar to the engineering and construction industry. Digitizing these documents enables architects and planners to work more quickly and securely with digital copies.

Different Methods to Scan Large format Documents

  • Scanning with the help of scanning services: When it comes to reliable, high-quality document conversion, scanning services are the preferred option. These services use high-end scanning hardware and have extensive scanning expertise to provide an exact copy of your paper documents. Scanning services can assist in organizing and indexing your digital files, making it easy to find the documents you need. They also ensure compliance with data privacy laws and guidelines to protect your documents’ confidentiality.
  • Large format scanners: Consumer scanners typically handle A4 or letter-sized papers, with some capable of scanning slightly larger legal-size pages (8.5 x 14″). Larger flatbed scanners are available, but they are expensive and not practical unless you have a significant volume of large format scanning to do. Renting a wide format scanner for a specific project might be a more cost-effective choice if you don’t plan on using it frequently.
  • Scanning apps: Various apps are available for scanning large documents on iPhone and Android smartphones. Scanner Pro for iPhone or iPad and Microsoft Lens for Android are popular options. These apps allow you to create PDF files that are easy to view, share, and store. The quality of the scanned images can vary based on your device’s camera and the size of the document.
  • Regular scanners:

If you have a regular scanner, you can still scan large documents by following these steps:

  • Scan your document multiple times, ensuring the highest resolution (DPI) your scanner can handle. A resolution of 300 dpi is typically sufficient for high-quality digital images.
  • Start scanning from one corner, taking pictures of each portion of the paper. If the document is larger, you may need to flip it over and scan the bottom half in the same manner, using the creases as a reference grid if it’s a map or folded document. Allow for some overlap to align the components later.
  • Use an image editing program like Adobe Photoshop or Gimp to import and edit the scanned images. Rotate the photos 180 degrees if you flipped the page to scan the bottom half.
  • Combine all the photos into one file using tools like Photomerge in Photoshop or the free plugin Stich Panorama for Gimp, ensuring proper alignment and orientation.

Regardless of the scanning method you choose, the final product will be a digital image. Large format documents are typically converted into PDF or TIF files or other compatible formats that can be viewed without additional software or hardware. This ease of editing, sharing, and storing ensures that your large format documents remain accessible for years to come.

Schedule a consultation with us to discuss your specific document scanning needs.

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Large-scale document scanning is crucial for protecting valuable data, optimizing storage space, and enabling easy access. Document scanning services offer a reliable option with several advantages, including preservation, space efficiency, accessibility, collaboration, and enhanced security.

Leveraging the expertise of experienced scanning services allows organizations to fully unlock the potential of their large format documents in the digital age.

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