Book scanning for dummies, part five

09 Apr

2. Post-scan processing with Acrobat

You should now have a PDF file containing  your scanned page images. These will have the page image on the left side of a landscape-oriented A4 sheet, and all the odd pages will be upside down. Open the PDF file in Adobe Acrobat. (If you just have images, or if you don’t have Acrobat, see ‘3. Post-scan processing without Acrobat’).

Use the Document/Crop options to crop away the blank right side and the top and bottom margins of each page. I use a setting of 7 inches at the right and 0.5 inches at the top and bottom.

Use the Document/Rotate options to invert all the odd pages.

Open the page thumbnail display panel at the left.

Right-click on the page thumbnails and resize them to the smallest size. Drag the divider between the thumbnail panel and the page display panel so exactly 20 thumbnails fit horizontally across.

Click on the nineteenth page and check that the orientation and page number is correct. Repeat for the twentieth page.

Repeat for each row, i.e. checking pages 39, 40, 59, 60, etc. If you find a discrepancy (e.g. if page 60 is numbered ’58’) then work back along the row until you find the location of the missing pages. You can ‘mark the spot’ by rotating the pages before and after the gap. If you have scanned some pages the wrong way up, select them all and use Document/Rotate/Selection to flip them over.

Find the missing pages in the book, scan them in, save them as a PDF file and use Document/Insert to append the missing pages at the end of your document. Crop and rotate them as necessary and drag them into the correct location in the book. Save the file.


Acrobat is really really stupid. It doesn’t remember settings from your page operations, so even when you do exactly the same things fifty times over, you still have to reset the same settings every time. There is a ‘batch processing’ mode but this is pretty hopeless too. If you are scanning a lot of books you can speed up the Acrobat side of things by installing the keyboard macro program AutoHotKey, and writing macros for the things you do in Acrobat over  and over again. Here are my AutoKotKey macros for cropping, rotating and shrinking page thumbnails.

3. Post-scan processing without Acrobat

This is an older method I used to use which doesn’t need Acrobat, but requires a Bash script and some Linux utilities.

  1. Scan to PDF files, using the same settings and method as above. If you scan to a memory stick the scanner will automatically name the files sequentially as something like SCN_0001.pdf, SCN_002.pdf, etc. If not, you will have to manually rename them or tinker with the script described below.
  2. If your scanner won’t output to PDF, scan to JPG images, save the odds and evens in separate directories and run the bash command convert -compress jpeg *.jpg SCN_01.pdf separately in each directory. Change the output file name to SCN_02.pdf for the evens directory. Move the resulting PDF files back into the same directory.
  3. Run the bash script provided. It will re-order and rotate the pages and collate them into sequence in a large PDF file for you. You will still need to find a way to crop the pages.
  4. If the rotation is not working correctly you may need to tinker with or edit out the rotation lines in the bash script.

Of course, if you have made errors in scanning, they will be reflected in the resulting file.

<– Part four

1 Comment

Posted by on April 9, 2011 in eBooks, Scanners, Windows Applications


One response to “Book scanning for dummies, part five

  1. Ronald Duncan

    May 27, 2014 at 9:44 pm

    Wow, I will just keep reading the physical books or getting ebooks!


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