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Can I scan itemised bills to spreadsheets so I can analyse their contents on my Mac?
Howard Oakley solves your Mac and iOS issues
QI received 30 printed pages of itemised billing, which I want to enter into an Excel spreadsheet for analysis. Asking for this to be sent in electronic form would incur further and substantial charges. Do I have to type all the figures in myself, or is there some way of scanning them in?
by Henry Strage
AYou can use optical character recognition (OCR) software on scanned images, which should save you a lot of time, but must be checked meticulously against the original documents.
Several different apps in the Mac App Store and elsewhere could do this well, but a sound choice would be FineReader OCR Pro (£79, abbyyeu.com). Although this app is not cheap, it will save you a lot of time in the long run, and it’s able to export directly to Microsoft Excel’s XSLX file format, or to CSV if you prefer that.
OCR can be quite accurate these days, but to get the best from it, make sure you get the best quality scans possible, ensuring every page is straight. Experiment with one page to begin with, optimising resolution and format to minimise errors, then use those settings for the rest of the pages.
When you come to checking and correcting the spreadsheet files, set aside plenty of time and do not rush it and miss errors. If possible, perform a second pass of corrections, as there are usually one or two which escape the first.
It’s crucial to check there are no mistakes in scanned docs that would affect analysis.