Scanning converts your paper documents into digital files. Before scanning create a folder structure to create an archive to organize your digital files. Scan your documents and move them to your digital archive. Mark the paper documents as “scanned” and verify that each was digitized properly. This verification step may seem tedious but scanning problems can occur, such as: (1) document was not readable, (2) original document misfed during the scanner, (3) document was skipped because it stuck to a previous page, etc. Do NOT discard ANY scanned document unless it resides on both the primary and the archive backup.

You probably have lots of documents that you would like to preserve including:

  • Tax records, forms, receipts, home/business records
  • Photos and videos
  • Birth certificates, passports, social security cards
  • Home documents including deed, mortgage papers, plat
  • Receipts for appliances and general purchases
  • Certificates and other records
  • Drawings, school work, and other memorabilia

A digital scanner converts printed material into digital files. Chose a good scanner that is compatible with your computer. You can use a flatbed scanner or one with a document feeder. Here are requirements when choosing a scanner:

  • MUST be able to scan multiple pages to a single document
  • MUST have a way to adjust the contrast settings
  • MUST be able to output data in multiple formats
  • GOOD TO HAVE Optical Character Recognition (OCR) to convert a scanned document to text
  • If you have many standard documents to scan an automatic sheet feeder can save lots of time. Consider using a duplex (two-sided) scanner if you have lots of two-sided documets.

Your first step is scanning documents to digital files. Use filenames that make the document easy to identify and easy to organize. Photos can use the sequenced number for the filename since they will be organized in directories that easy to find and identify. Scan multiple pages into a single file when it makes sense. For example, if you are scanning your 1040 tax forms scan all of the 1040 pages into a single file.

Shred Documents

After paper documents are scanned, backed-up, and archived you may want to discard them. If you keep original papers mark them as SCANNED in pencil. If you need to use the original you can ease the pencil marks. Be sure to shred old documents and NEVER recycle or discard intact papers.