How Does Optical Character Recognition (OCR) Work?

OCR is growing in use and applications today. So, how exactly does it work?

Students, writers, and businesses; these are the three most common people with OCR use in their everyday life. Students need it for studying, writers need it for work, and businesses need it for automation and data storage.

But, all of them need it to improve their work efficiency, and that’s why this market is projected to be worth around $70 billion by 2030. Extensive usage and growing requirements push people to use OCR to convert valuable data into editable text formation.

So, how does it all work? What drives OCR? The answer lies within its abbreviation, aka optical character recognition. Then, the added use of AI in recent years has made it even more capable, with the latest tech dubbed as “intelligent character recognition.”

So, let’s find out how it all works:

Defining OCR

Optical character recognition’s early idea was developed by Gustav Tauschek for a device that can read for blind people. Later on, this technology kept evolving until American inventors made some drastic changes to the technology in 1974.

Then finally, in 2000, OCR became a service known as WebOCR, which helped translate and turn the text into readable/editable text. This is the OCR we know today, and since then, it has made its way into computer programs like Adobe & Google Docs and mobile phone apps.

And today, tools like is the primary/go-to tool for writers, businesses, and marketers around the globe.

How Does OCR Work?

The working of OCR isn’t difficult to understand. As the title suggests, Optical Character Recognition recognizes each character present in a paper and then recognizes it accordingly. The job of OCR is to read individual characters present in a paper.

This way, the technology pushes to read through various evolved versions of itself, which we’ll talk about in a bit. Then, the OCR tool turns the text into NLP to help the machine learn the human language(s).

(Also Read: How to Extract Text from Hand-written Images Using OCR)

After that, it scans thoroughly and turns the scanned document into the editable text until you see the result.

5 Main Types Of OCR Used Today

In order to understand just how OCR works, it’s imperative that we understand its various types as well. Therefore, to help your understanding of the latest and evolved OCR like, here are the 5 main types of OCR that tools employ:

1.    Intelligent Word Recognition

Intelligent word recognition or IWR is the primary technology used in today’s OCR tools. It’s a blend of classic OCR and artificial intelligence. Since it thoroughly recognizes even crude text such as handwritten. Moreover, it extracts machine or typewritten text without any hassle.

2.    Intelligent Character Recognition

Intelligent character recognition is more or less the same as IWR, except it reads each character. This is the closest relative to its predecessor OCR, as it recognizes each character with the help of AI. This is viable in reading crude texts, mainly handwritten or unreadable ones.

(Also Read: 7 Reasons You Should Know About OCR To Solve Data Entry Issues)

3.    Optical Word Recognition

Optical word recognition is the usage of technology in its physical form, such as an OCR pen or an OCR document scanner. This technology uses optical lenses to read and then turn text through NLP, which then turns it into editable text on a virtual device.

4.    Optical Character Recognition

Optical character recognition or OCR itself is the primary tech used in all these tools, particularly mobile phone applications. This is mainly because this technology recognizes characters with the help of lenses, i.e., mobile phone cameras.

5.    Optical Mark Recognition

Lastly, optical mark recognition or OMR is the tech that employs lenses to read marks or other shapes and patterns on paper. This is ideal for reading text with math equations or marks of different kinds.

How Does An OCR Online Tool Work?

The basic functionality of an OCR Online tool isn’t complex to understand. So, if you’re wondering how you can use a capable tool like OCROnline, then here’s what you need to do:

·       Image Upload/Capture

The first step you need to take is to upload or capture the image. Once you do, you will have to upload it on OCROnline, like this:

Image Upload/Capture

All you have to do now is drag and drop your image or click on “Select Image” to browse your computer. Once you do, here’s what you will see:

Select Image to extract text

To demonstrate, we have used an image taken from our own homepage, which you can see uploaded here.

·       Image Scan

The next step is to scan your image for the text you wish to extract from it. This is a straightforward affair and doesn’t require any extensive work. All you need to do is click here:

Image Scan

Once you click on the button marked in green, the tool will begin to scan it for text.

·       Text Recognition – Hand Or Typewritten

Once you click the “Get Text” button,’s AI kicks in and begins to recognize your text. This process can recognize both hand and typewritten text, as it presents you the scanned text like this:

Text Recognition Hand Or Typewritten

As you can notice here, the text is converted into text seamlessly.

·       Text Extraction

Now all you need to do is extract the text that you wish to use. This is yet another straightforward process, and all you have to do is select all of the text like this:

Text Extraction

As you can see, the text is all selected and ready to be pasted anywhere. Therefore, this editable text can now be used again, rephrased, rewritten, or used however you deem fit.

·       Editable Text

To demonstrate that did indeed capture the text, here’s the text in MS Word:

Editable Text

As you can see here, the text is now editable, and it can be used for any purpose.


There you have it, folks: the way OCR works and how a capable tool like OCROnline does it. Therefore, all you need to do is capture the text you wish to use and upload it to the website’s drag & drop feature. Then, let OCROnline do the rest.

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