Let's say you have a lot of written notes that you want to transfer into a computer file and edit from time to time. You could take the time to type the data in by hand, but there's a much quicker method. You can scan the document in and have the words automatically converted into computerized letters and words that can be edited. In order to do this you need Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software.
Using OCR Software With Your Scanner
Open your OCR software program so that it is ready to accept newly scanned files.
Scan your document into your computer. Be sure that the page that you want to scan is as clear as possible, with dark ink so that the scanner can pick up every word. If the piece is handwritten instead of typed, the words should be printed (written in separate, unconnected letters) if at all possible, as many OCR programs have a hard time deciphering script (cursive) handwriting.
Choose your desired output option (such as RTF, Word, PowerPoint, Excel, Text or PDF), allow the OCR program to perform the conversion and then save the converted file to your hard drive.
Start the word processing program for the file that you just converted. Open the file and edit your document. Depending on the quality of the scan and OCR software, you may have to do extensive editing (for example, "ri" may have been erroneously translated as "n"). Keep your spell-checker on as you edit to catch all mistakes.
The Google Way
Google also has a built in OCR system. Whenever you find a website in the Google search engine that is directly linked to a PDF file, you have the option to read it either as a PDF or in HTML (text). So to start off, scan in your document.
Convert the document to a PDF. You can do this by simply saving the image as a PDF file in your image editing software (like Adobe Photoshop). Or, on a Mac with OSX, clicking "Print" and hitting "Save as PDF."
Upload the PDF file to your website hosting account (or you can use a free website hosting service such as Geocities) and make the file public. Take note of the exact web address to the PDF file.
Submit the link address to Google Submit (see Resources) so that it will be indexed and show up in Google search results (this could take a couple of days).
Find your PDF file on the Google search engine by typing in the exact web link to the PDF file. Click the option to download it as an HTML file.
Copy and paste the text from your HTML file into Microsoft Word or another word processing program for editing.
Things You'll Need
Image editing software
Web hosting account
Some scanners come built in with OCR software to automatically convert your scanned image into an editable text file.
If you will need to convert a lot of scanned pages to text, invest in a scanner that has an automatic feeder (similar to a printer). See Resources for an example of one of these devices.