Google Docs Features OCR Reader

Good news for those of us who frequently have to struggle with converting locked PDFs into editable documents. While we really like ABBYY FineReader, at $399, it is an expensive program (try the free 15-day trial). Our friends at Google have integrated similar functionalities into their powerful and popular Google Docs, which supports several languages, including English, Spanish, German, and French. We haven't tested that functionality yet, but with all things Google, you can expect it to be quite solid. Best of all: it's free. Read all about it on the Google Apps blog. Yet another solution: charge a PDF conversion surcharge. Your clients will understand that your expertise is not primarily in the document conversion area, and that having a professional linguist spend time on converting documents is neither the best use of the linguist's time nor the best use of the client's money. You would be surprised how quickly an editable document is found at your client's office once they realize they can save money by looking for it! Truly a win-win situation, isn't it?


bonnjill on July 7, 2010 at 2:46 PM said...

I suggest buying a used copy of ABBYY or buying it from an overseas vendor. My copy only cost me €100 from a vendor on

Thomas Gruber on July 8, 2010 at 12:34 PM said...

I've just tried it with a 4 page scanned image pdf and Google has extracted the text pretty good.

Buying used software on eBay especially from overseas vendors could lead to buying stolen or not working software (because the cds are copied a hundred times and the serials or keys are not working anymore). But it can work fine though.

Tess Whitty on July 9, 2010 at 10:11 AM said...

Thanks for the tip! I do not have enough business from PDF-documents to justify ABBYY so I will definitely try this out next time.

Thomas Gruber on July 11, 2010 at 9:39 AM said...

As some wrote in Twitter Posts, Google OCR is probably not the best in class as its based on pretty old OCR routines but for simpler documents or to make the word count it should be good enough.

Join the conversation! Commenting is a great way to become part of the translation and interpretation community. Your comments don’t have to be overly academic to get published. We usually publish all comments that aren't spam, self-promotional or offensive to others. Agreeing or not agreeing with the issue at hand and stating why is a good way to start. Social media is all about interaction, so don’t limit yourself to reading and start commenting! We very much look forward to your comments and insight. Let's learn from each other and continue these important conversations.

Subscribe by email:


Twitter update

Site Info

The entrepreneurial linguists and translating twins blog about the business of translation from Las Vegas and Vienna.

Translation Times