June 24, 2024

ICR OCR technologies – A simple guide to picking the software you need

ICR OCR technologies – A simple guide to picking the software you need

 DMS systems for document management are catching pace. However, do you really need the whole DMS software? Let’s look at ICR OCR and how they are different. Adding a slideshow-like functionality through a lightbox feature is necessary for any serious WordPress gallery plugin.

The document management process requires the utilization of a range of computer technologies to execute tasks effectively. 

The two most actively used technologies for document management are OCR or optical character recognition and ICR or intelligent character recognition. Both ICR OCR systems are important for the uploading of physical documents into digital databases. These documents convert text on physical documents into digital text that is readable by a computer.

While both are important, it is important to understand the way these two technologies work and differ to access maximum benefits.

First, let’s define each of the technologies separately.

Optical character recognition (OCR)

Optical character recognition was developed in the late 19th century. It was developed primarily to find methods to scan written text and help the disabled.

Over time, optical character recognition absorbed technological advancements and finesse to effectively read text written in hard copy format. This was always typewritten text. Thus, optical character recognition became the technology responsible for reading computer-written fonts. 

Intelligent character recognition (ICR)

As optical character recognition grew, the idea for intelligent character recognition came into being. OCR could only read typewritten content due to its standardized nature. There was no technology for reading handwritten content which holds significant ambiguities and diversity. Thus, intelligent character recognition is both a subset and a further advancement within OCR. ICR technology allows the conversion of handwritten text into computer-readable format.

Both ICR OCR systems are closely related yet the two are different and have very different applications on their own. When used together both ICR OCR can produce great results for document management.

Highlighting the differences between ICR and OCR with regard to applications

As mentioned, ICR OCR are both very similar techniques having base in similar computer technologies. Optical character recognition allows users to scan computer-written text. This can be documents, books, or there any other printed text. On the other hand, with intelligent character recognition, we scan handwritten text. This makes ICR have massive applications within industries with increased handwritten content. For example, in classrooms, ICR technology can allow unlocking great educational benefits. Similarly, ICR can also be used for research purposes where there is a lot of handwritten data that needs to be transferred into digital format.

ICR OCR systems are very different and have vastly different applications. However, when used together the applications of the two are never-ending.  

Opening doors to endless applications – Pairing OCR ICR software together

Pairing ICR OCR programs, a new system of document management software can be produced. When working in conjunction, the two technologies each perform their own tasks, and the idea of “ICR vs OCR” is lost.

Document management software or DMS utilizes ICR OCR technology to offer services to businesses and other entities that require dealing with documents that have both written and typed content. This leads us to endless applications of ICR OCR systems.

 Some examples of documents that require the OCR and ICR software include:

  • Cheques – Banking checks have a lot of both computer and handwritten text. The cheque comes with printed pre-written content and then when customers want, they can fill in with their hands whatever they need to write.
  • Exam papers – Some exam papers, particularly at the college level, have questions pre-typed with spaces left for students to write answers. ICR OCR solutions can help greatly with such papers. Moreover, certain exam papers can require typing out answers alongside hand drawing and labeling diagrams. For these, too, using ICR OCR solutions together can be a great benefit.
  • Receipts and invoices – Receipts and invoices of wholesale or other traditional businesses almost always have both types of writing. There is a set of information on the forms, typically as labels. Traditionally, the business acquires these pre-printed invoices, and later managers or cashiers fill in details by hand.

OCR vs ICR – Whom to pick

The ICR OCR debate can be confusing for businesses that are looking for systems related to document management or verification. However, the answer to your perfect solution lies in your particular needs rather than in the pros and cons of ICR OCR software.

If you have a business that is based 100% online it is likely that you will not require handwritten content in your management processes which will have a simple optical character recognition software suffice for you. On the other hand, sites such as classrooms of K-12 schools primarily only have handwritten content. This means that ICR technology can work for these schools.

However, if you run a bank or a research institution, you would probably require a document management system that makes use of both ICR OCR programs.


There are a lot of uses of ICR OCR programs in all kinds of industries. For some industries, ICR suffices, for others simply OCR is essential. For most industries, however, a mix of both ICR OCR services is important.

It is important for businesses to understand their particular needs before moving on to implementing any form of computer technology or service. For technologies such as ICR OCR, which are very similar yet also, very different, this self-awareness becomes even more important.

By utilizing the two effectively, businesses can ensure that their data management processes are efficient, smart, and without any errors.

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