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FAQ: What is the best format for scanned documents?

The most appropriate format depends on the document being scanned. For example, JPEG is good for colourful images whereas PDF is the best choice for text files and forms. We offer many different file formats, including PDF Searchable which allows you to search documents for words or phrases. Read on to find out more.


To help you decide which file format you would like us to scan your documents to here is a summary of each one we offer: 




Normal PDF: The most common type of PDF, used for storing Word/ text documents. It will show the full text on the page and produce a close copy of the original whilst still being a relatively small file size. 

Image Only PDF: This is a PDF created from scanning in images. These files will not contain any searchable text but still be a true representation of the original, showing images in a PDF 'wrapper'.

Searchable PDF:  If you prefer to have your documents converted into a fully text searchable format, then we can offer OCR Processing. This can be particularly useful when trying to track down specific documents, which once processed will be searchable by both their text and data.




JPG is the most commonly used image file format. Digital cameras and web pages normally use JPG files - because JPG compresses the data into a smaller file- ideal for document storage. However, during the compression process, some of the quality is lost so this may not be the best option if you want to store high quality images. 




TIFF format was designed to stored images and is considered to be the highest quality format for commercial work as the compression stage is 'lossless'. That said, TIFF files are not always compatible with viewers and other software and a PDF format may have more options available, such as indexing. 


In Summary: 

  • JPEG format is good for storage of images in small file sizes, not the best quality available. 
  • PDF format is for text documents; PDF Searchable is the most convenient for businesses as it allows the user to search for text and data. 
  • TIFF is the best option for storing high quality images but it does not include any method for defining document structure such as indexing etc. 


Related Articles: 

Confidential Document Shredding 

FAQ: What is the scanning process? 

FAQ: Can I have my documents back after scanning? 




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