How to scan documents into pdf files

Take home exams should be submitted as ONE PDF file by email. To save me some time, please name your file: Lastname-Firstname.pdf using your First and Last name.

DO NOT JUST TAKE PHOTOGRAPHS OF YOUR PAPERS WITH A PHONE!!!!! DON'T SEND ME IMAGE FILES!!! I need a PDF document that can be printed, and just taking pictures will not work.

WRITE WITH A DARK PEN. DO NOT USE A PENCIL, ESPECIALLY A LIGHT ONE. Your document may be barely readable on screen but not print well.

I won't be able to grade an exam that looks unreadable on paper.

Run a drill

Whatever solution you come up with to scan documents, try the following drill:

  1. Print the course syllabus on paper
  2. Scan the printed course syllabus back to a pdf file.
  3. Print the pdf file again
  4. Check the quality of your scan and repeat, if improvement is necessary

Also, handwrite the solution to a math problem on paper. Then repeat the drill.

Scanning with printer/scanner

To scan with a printer/scanner, please use the following settings:

  • 400 dpi
  • Black and White
  • Scan as PDF file

The printer/scanner will then create a pdf file.

Note that the latest printers try to be clever. If you scan as pdf, they use image processing algorithms for documents. If you try to scan as images, then it will assume you are scanning pictures and use different algorithms. If you then try to make a pdf with images, the result will look fine on the screen, but not when you print.

You can save money on printer toner by buying third-party toner rather than the original. However, third party toner may need a little bit of shaking to get it going and to keep it going.

Scanning with a phone app

To scan with a phone YOU MUST USE A SCANNING APP. For Android phones, I recommend Mobile Doc Scan. For iphones, you can try CamScanner. In both apps, you take a photograph of the paper and then adjust the bounding box to the four corners of your paper. Image processing algorithms then produce an image that looks as if you fed the document through a real scanner. You need to do this for each page, so this is less convenient than an actual scanner. However, one interesting thing the phone app can do that a regular scanner can't is to scan a whiteboard.

The apps can be used to generate a PDF file, which you can then transfer to a computer and submit by email. Try scanning some document into PDF and email it to yourself.