Document Scanner Jargon Busting


Document scanners convert physical documents into a digital format. Some of the terminology used, when describing document scanners and their attributes, can be confusing. The Scanner Shop have collated a list of common document scanning terms with simple explanations. We hope this helps inform your decision when choosing the best document scanner for your needs.

Large Format Scanner

Large format scanners, or wide format scanners, are specialised scanners used to scan and digitise documents and images that are larger than standard A4 or A3 size. Large format scanners can digitise oversized documents, such as blueprints, engineering drawings, architectural plans, posters, maps and artwork. A1 scanners and A0 scanners are commonly used in various industries, including architecture, engineering, construction, graphic design, and art reproduction.

Production Scanner

Production scanners are A4 or A3 document scanners with the capacity to process large daily outputs. Production scanners have large ADFs (automatic document feeders), usually over 100 sheets and scan documents at rapid speeds.

Shoebox Scanner

A shoebox scanner is an A4 scanner designed for quickly digitising or archiving the contents of a shoebox full of documents, photos, or other small items. The chassis is based on an A4 desktop scanner but bundled with software that is more adept at processing small 6x4” photographs.

Small Office Home Office (SOHO)

The term small office/home office refers to a small business that is often run out of small office spaces, homes, or even virtually. SOHO workspaces are becoming more popular as an increasing number of people convert to hybrid workstyles.

Batch Scanning

Batch scanning involves scanning multiple documents in one session. This is especially useful for processing large quantities of documents quickly.

Bureau Scanning

Bureau scanning & document management refers to the process of digitising physical documents using large production scanners and managing the digital copies in a systematic and efficient manner. This practice is common in businesses, organisations and government agencies that deal with large volumes of paperwork and need to streamline their document handling processes.

Automatic Document Feeder (ADF)

ADF is a feature on scanners that allows you to place multiple documents in a tray for automatic feeding and scanning, saving time compared to manually placing each document.

Pages Per Minute (PPM)

PPM is the number of pages a document scanner can process per minute. Compact, portable scanners range between 15 - 40 ppm whereas larger production scanners can handle up-to 210 ppm.

Images per minute (IPM) 

IPM represents the number of images (usually referring to pages, but it could also mean sides of a page) that a scanner can process in one minute. IPM considers both the scanning of a page's front side (or recto) and its back side (or verso) in duplex scanners. For example, if a scanner has an IPM rating of 30, it can scan 30 images (15 pages if duplex) in one minute.

Dots Per Inch (DPI)

DPI refers to the resolution or quality of a scanned image. It indicates the number of dots (pixels) per inch in the scanned image. Higher DPI values result in sharper and more detailed scans.

Optical Character Recognition (OCR)

OCR is technology that converts scanned images of printed or handwritten text into editable and searchable text. It enables the computer to recognise and process the content of the scanned document.

Portable Document Format (PDF)

PDF is a popular file format for scanned documents. It retains the original formatting, fonts, images, and layout of the document, making it universally accessible on various devices and platforms. 

Joint Photographic Experts Group (JPEG)

JPEG is a commonly used image format for scanned documents. It uses compression to reduce file size but may result in some loss of image quality. 

Tagged Image File Format (TIFF)

TIFF is another image format often used for scanned documents. It's known for its high-quality and lossless compression, making it suitable for archiving and professional applications.

Simplex and Duplex Scanning

Simplex scanning refers to scanning only one side of a document, while duplex scanning involves scanning both sides of a document in a single pass.

Colour Depth

Colour depth refers to the number of colours a scanner can capture, or a display can show. Higher colour depth allows for more accurate reproduction of colours in scanned images.

Bit Depth

Bit depth is the number of bits used to represent each pixel in an image. It determines the range of colours or shades of grey that can be captured in a scanned image. Common bit depths are 1-bit (black and white), 8-bit (256 shades of grey), and 24-bit (true colour).


A technique used to simulate continuous-tone images (such as photographs) using dots of varying size or spacing. It's commonly used in newspapers and magazines.


De-skewing is the process of correcting the alignment of skewed or tilted scanned images to make them appear straight.


De-speckling is the process of removing small dots or specks from scanned images, which can result from dust or imperfections on the original document.


Compression reduces the file size of scanned images, making them easier to store and share. A JPEG would be a common compression file format.


Resolution refers to the clarity and detail of a scanned image. It's often measured in DPI. Higher resolution scans are suitable for documents with fine text or intricate details.

Intelligent Document Processing (IDP)

A workflow automation technology that scans, reads, extracts, categorises, and organises meaningful information into accessible formats from large streams of data. The technology can process many different types of documents: papers, PDFs, Word docs, spreadsheets, and a multitude of other formats. The primary function of IDP is to extract valuable information in large sets of data without human input.


Scanning drivers are a software component that facilitates communication between a computer and a scanner. The primary purpose of a scanning driver is to enable the computer to control and interact with the scanner, allowing users to scan documents, images, or other content and then process or save the scanned results.

Image Capture Architecture (ICA)

A framework developed by Apple for macOS to provide a standardised way for applications to communicate with imaging devices, including document scanners.

Image and Scanner Interface Specification (ISIS)

ISIS drivers are generally preferred when dealing with high-speed, high-volume document scanning applications, where accuracy and speed are crucial.

Scanner Access Now Easy (SANE)

SANE is an open-source software suite that provides standardised access to various image scanners. It allows applications to communicate with and control scanning devices across different operating systems like Linux, macOS, and various Unix-like systems.

Technology Without an Interesting Name (TWAIN)

TWAIN drivers are more common for general-purpose and consumer-level document scanners.

Windows Image Acquisition (WIA)

WIA is a Microsoft designed driver to streamline the acquisition of images and documents from scanners. WIA is especially useful for users who prefer a straightforward scanning experience.

If you have any further questions or would like to discuss which document scanner is suitable for your business, please contact us.

Published 23/08/2023