Using a Google Drive App to Convert Handwriting into Text

Today I experimented with using Google Docs (a Google Drive app) to convert handwritten documents into text. After running 6 trials, I found that the app:

  • Prefers smaller to larger print (My “small” handwriting is actually medium-sized. I tend to write large.)
  • Can handle lined paper as long as the lines are lighter than the ink.
  • Doesn’t recognize formatting, so it’s best to write everything as one long paragraph, and then insert line-breaks manually.
  • Is terrible at deciphering cursive writing.
  • Tries to interpret mistakes. If you cross out a word, Google Docs will insert what it believes the word to be.
  • Doesn’t like circled numbers, so try to format your numbers as you’d like them to appear in the document.

So how did Google Docs do overall? Once I learned its preferences, it transcribed my document fairly well. Here and there it misinterpreted punctuation, and it misspelled one word.

Some transcribed words were in different colors and fonts. This was easily remedied by selecting all text and then changing the color and font for the entire document.

It only took me 3 minutes and 18 seconds to change the converted document into something readable and presentable (see comparative photos below.)

To use the Google Docs app:

  1. Upload the scanned or photographed document (pdf or jpeg) to Google Drive.
  2. Right-click on the file.
  3. Choose Open with…
  4. Choose Google Docs.

The handwritten text opens as a text file. Note that, with jpegs, the picture opens first. The text is printed beneath it.

Handwritten document
The upper portion of the document was transcribed by Google Docs.
The notes were added later.
It took roughly 3 minutes to format the document transcribed by Google Docs.

Published by cafsamsel

Carol Fullerton-Samsel is a nearly-native Floridian who lives with her husband of 25 years and three rescue animals. She is a [mostly] vegan, alcohol-free, [relatively] caffeine-free, Buddhist writer and day-hiker. Her novel, The Clones of Langston, was a Reader’s Favorite medalist and a New Century Writer Awards finalist. It tells the story of cloned workers who are abandoned to form their own society. As the facility housing them erodes, they discover a challenging new world—our own.

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