Is Scanning the Same as Digitizing?

Scanning and Digitizing Documents

If you're interested in turning all your physical files into neat, well-organized digital documents, congratulations--you're on a path that's sure to deliver all kinds of benefits. However, as you do your research, you're likely to come across two terms: scanning and digitizing. The truth is that, while often used interchangeably, these terms mean separate things--and knowing the difference is key.


Scanning has been around for a while now. It's not exactly old news, but neither is it the biggest, most exciting advancement in the world of office documents.

Maybe that's because, as a solution, scanning is a little simplistic. It requires the use of a scanner or multifunction device to get the job done, and from there, it's just what the name suggests: You put a document or photograph on the machine, and it essentially takes a picture, saving this image to your device.

Unfortunately, just like any other image, scanned files are a little disappointing. They can't be edited, searched, or manipulated, and they're far less functional than many companies need. However, if it's static images you're looking for, scanning nonetheless represents an important step forward from physical files.


Digitizing is where the real magic happens. It still requires the use of a scanner or multifunction device, but this time, there's a bit of extra work behind the scenes.

The machine uses more advanced technology--often, OCR or optical character recognition--to read the text or handwriting on the document. Then, by comparing the figures to a database of shapes, the machine translates the content on the physical file into a digital format--and voila, you have a digitized document that can be edited, searched, and shared to your heart's content.

The benefits of digitizing are almost countless and can include:

  • Increased efficiency: When documents are digitized, they're much easier to access and update as necessary, minimizing wasted time.

  • Better communication: Need a file ASAP? Digitized documents can be shared from just about anywhere, making them the modern worker's best friend.

  • Reliable security: Physical files are tricky to protect. Once digitized, they can live comfortably behind firewalls, passwords, and other security solutions.

In conclusion, while scanning and digitizing are both useful solutions, digitizing is often the best path for business needs. However, both require the help of a scanner--so your first step is clear.

Contact us today to kick off your digitizing (or scanning) journey!