PDF - A Green Technology for Paperless Office

>> Sunday, June 27, 2010

Author: Ricky Wong

Why Does Paperless Office Become So Significant

In several years ago, paperless office is still a new concept to most of us. As the increasing pressure from environment and resources brought by the rapid economic development, more and more environmentalists are advocating energy saving and environment protection. Consequently, the concept of paperless office came into being and becoming an irreversible trend. Paperless office envisions an office with no paper but digital documents. Every work by everyone in every office will not be done on paper but computers. Besides getting rid of a lot of clutter and saving storage space, an additional benefit of a paperless office would be a reduction in environmental impact - since no trees will be cut to make paper and no carbon dioxide emissions when printing paper.

PDF – the Ideal File Format for Paperless Office

In such a paperless environment, a good universal digital format is needed to save all the documents in. This is where Portable Document Format (PDF) comes in. PDF format have a variety of features like security, compact size, accessibility, and usage restrictions. It can save all kinds of formats in it – Word, Excel, or just about any other format. With only a free PDF Reader, PDF files can be used on any system and all platforms with no exceptions. Moreover, PDF files are considerably smaller than other formats, which make them easier for files storage and sending over the Internet for exchanging. With numerous advantages, PDF is electronic equivalent of paper and comes as the best format to be used in a paperless office.

How to Establish Paperless Office

With help of computers and scanners, paperless office is not hard to establish. People could use scanners to import paper documents like government reports, contracts, invoices, quotations into computer for long-term storage. The scanner takes a snap-shot of the image then turned to a scanned PDF. The problem with the scanned PDF files created by using a scanner
is that they are not electronic character-based files but unsearchable images of document. As is known to us, character-based PDF files saved from Word, Excel or other formats cannot be edit directly, leave alone the image-based scanned PDF. There are some professional PDF editors like Adobe Acrobat can scan paper documents to character-based and searchable PDF documents and edit them directly, but most of them are extremely expensive and far from cost-saving. Following shows you two ways to deal with scanned PDF files and un-scanned PDF files when need to edit them.

OCR Technology – for Scanned PDF

In order to convert a scanned document into an electronic character-based file, OCR technology (Optical Character Recognition) is required. According to Wikipedia, OCR is "the mechanical or electronic translation of images of handwritten, typewritten or printed text (usually captured by a scanner) into machine-editable text". OCR technology can interpret each character image of scanned PDF, thus makes it possible to convert these scanned images into editable and searchable formats like Text or Microsoft Word. There is plenty of OCR software on the market like Adobe Acrobat that can scan paper documents to searchable PDF documents and edit them directly. But they are all expensive. Actually, there are some free alternative services available online. OCR Terminal is one of them that can let people convert scanned images into searchable text. People could register an account then gain the chance to convert 20 pages every month for free and it is enough for most of us.

PDF to Word Converter – for Normal PDF

The free PDF Readers are only designed for viewing PDF files. People may turn to PDF editors when need to edit or modify PDF files. However, PDF to Word Converter is more cost-saving and can let users convert PDF back to Word format for easier editing. It preserves text, layouts, images and hyperlinks well. After editing, users can easily save Word back to PDF if necessary with free PDF creators.

Based on PDF technology, paperless office is an environmentally-friendly and cost-saving green room indeed. There are many reasons to concentrate on paperless office. Even for those unpersuaded by ocean acidification, global climate change, desertification, topsoil erosion, pollution, or wars over resource depletion, a sense of "greenliness" is growing. Consequently, it is our common responsibility to develop paperless office with great efforts.


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