Document Imaging and Barcodes

Document Imaging and Barcoding Together Can Make Big Changes

The document imaging process converts paper documents into a digital format. These digital documents need to be indexed to make them an integral part of the electronic workflow. Using barcodes that identify a document and the category under which it should be classified can speed up indexing.

The barcodes are attached to or printed on the paper documents. During scanning, the barcode will be captured by the document imaging process. The information in the barcode would then be read and used by the indexing program.

For example, paper forms can be barcoded with information identifying the particular form and the class to which it belongs. When the form is imaged, the barcode information will be captured.

When the digital form is filled in and saved, it would have the date information attached to it. The indexing program would thus have information about the particular form, its category, and the date it was filled in. It might also have document author information. With this information it would be possible to create an index entry for that document.

Barcodes can be used even for facilitating the retrieval of paper documents. Where large numbers of original paper documents have to be stored, and retrieved quickly when needed, barcode stickers can be affixed to the documents, identifying each document by relevant information.

Using a barcode reader, selected documents (say, in a particular storage location) can be quickly scanned and the needed document can be identified. There would be no need to go into the contents of each document to identify the needed document.

Legal firms use this facility because they have to preserve original paper documents in large numbers. When a document is needed, they can take out the folder related to the particular case and identify the particular document quickly.

New Kinds of Barcodes

Barcodes come in a traditional linear form and a newer matrix form.

Traditional barcodes represent each character by a vertical line. The lines are arranged horizontally across the paper. These linear barcodes become impractical when the number of characters exceeds 30.

The matrix, 2D, barcodes represent characters by small cells, arranged both vertically and horizontally. They can accommodate several times the number of characters that the linear barcode can.

It would be possible to code complete information about a document using 2D bar codes. Not only indexing, but also other document related tasks, can be facilitated with this kind of coded information on each document.

Use of Barcodes in Document Management

Barcodes can be pre-printed on paper documents as an identifier, facilitating subsequent retrieval. The legal office example used earlier is an example.

Barcodes can also be pre-printed on separator pages to indicate the start and end of documents. This becomes useful when documents come in batches of sheets, as in a mailroom scenario.

Indexing of documents is facilitated by the barcode images and the identifying information they contain. A lot of information can be made available by 2D barcodes.

There are barcode generators that can speed up barcoding. With some input from the operator and from the application, generators can create relevant barcodes to be attached to the document.

Conclusion

Document imaging software and barcodes together can speed up such document management tasks as indexing. Even paper documents can use barcodes for quick identification where needed. Barcodes these days come in both traditional linear formats and newer matrix formats. The matrix 2D barcodes can accommodate much more information, including full document identification and description.