2005-DECEMBER: Proofing of Scanned-Imaged Documentation of all sizes

A hypothetical question:

Do we need to Quality Assure – QA every document scanned in a scanning / imaging process?

And the answer is –it depends!


It depends on what? Quality Assurance – QA of the process but not necessarily the individual document!

As an internal or external scanning/imaging provider, do we carry out the Standards for the Quality Assurance – QA of our scanners as defined in Recommended Practice for Quality Control of Image Scanners Document Number: ANSI/AIIM MS44-1988 ( Revised in 1993 )?

If we follow this standard to the word then the QA required for the checking of each and every document scanned may be minimised to 50% of documents or 10% or 5% or 1% or event less.


Because the standard provides us with a degree of a blanket QA process for all documents scanned.

The USA Standard ANSI/AIIM MS44-1988 titled “Recommended Practice for Quality Control of Image Scanners” states the following, along with many other important criteria in nine sections. 4.2;

Why do we need Quality Control?

In the typical digital image management system, all incoming documents are scanned, indexing information is entered, and the original paper documents are eventually destroyed. In some systems the scanned image of the document may never be examined until it is needed. Strict quality control is required to assure that the images stored are of acceptable quality and are locatable by way of the index.

If a scanner is not operating properly, a large number of useless images may be stored on the system. When the problem is discovered and corrected, the original documents will have to be scanned again ( if in fact they still exist ). Procedures should be established so that any problems are discovered while the original documents are still available.

The quality control procedures described in this document ( USA Standard ANSI/AIIM MS44-1988 ) allow the user to make sure that the system is performing today as well as it was when originally adjusted by the manufacturer. Used on a regular basis, these procedures can assure the user that the scanner will produce digital images of sufficient quality for their intended use.

Enough said:

I cannot, for ethical and copyright reasons provide you with the whole of the Standard. Full details on the ANSI-AIIM Standard MS44-1988 [ REVISED 1993 ] is available online and available for purchase to download @ Recommended Practice for Quality Control of Image Scanners Document Number: ANSI/AIIM MS44-1988 ( R1993 ) titled – Recommended Practice for Quality Control of Image Scanners for $39.00 USD.

An Australian case study:

In the early 1990’s a large engineering organisation in Australia needed to digitize all of its hundreds of thousands of engineering drawings dating back to the turn of the century to a .TIFF file format due to a reorganisation of its operations and the need to have the data available online. The only full holding of the drawings were held in 35 mm microfilm aperture cards.


To scan the total holding of drawings held in 35 mm format to digital images in a .TIFF file format and to make the data available online 24 / 7 – ( 24 hours per day – 7 days per week ).

Major Issues:

Due to the variable nature of the hand drawn ( most drawings were produced manually prior to the introduction of CAD – Computer Aided Drafting) engineering drawings ( and you think that the scanning/imaging and QA process involved with general hand written documentation is a challenge ) a 100% Quality Assurance – QA process was implemented.


Initially FIVE HUNDRED – 500 aperture cards were scanned ( without operator involvement ) overnight. In the morning FIVE 5 QA personnel loaded the resultant .TIFF file images onto their fully featured CAD stations and viewed each drawing for clarity and ease of use by the end user. Over a period of time it was found that the number of rejected images requiring re-scanning was less that half of one 1% or less than FIVE – 5 drawings per 500 scanned each night.

Outcome or Result:

The team of five QA personnel were disbanded and the five fully featured CAD stations were reallocated to other duties. The scanning/imaging group then advised its online clients that if they found a drawing image that was less then the quality they required then the scanning/imaging group would rescan the offending 35 mm aperture card on a one off basis ( with that ability to try various settings of Dots Per Inch – DPI, contrast and brightness etc ) and to provide the highest possible quality digital image from what was usually a poor quality original paper copy rather than a fault of the 35 mm aperture card filming or scanning/imaging process.

It depends:

In this particular situation they applied the exception rule and as all aperture cards were retained in that format and with a number of copies available for rescanning on an as needed basis this solution was a desirable, acceptable and a highly cost saving process. Five personnel were allocated other related duties and five high cost CAD workstations were made available for other drafting tasks.

A WIN – WIN situation for all!

Could this QA environment as detailed above be replicated in a general A4 = A and A3 = B size USA general document scanning/imaging environment?


As they SAY: It is a matter of horses for courses.

Laurie Varendorff ARMA

The Author

Laurie Varendorff, ARMA, a former RMAA Western Australia Branch president & national director, has been involved in records management and the micrographic industry for 40 years.

Laurie has his own microfilm equipment sales & support organisation – Digital Microfilm Equipment – DME – and a – records & information management – RIM – consulting & training business – The Varendorff Consultancy – TVC – located near Perth, Western Australia, & has tutored & written course material in recordkeeping & archival storage & preservation for Perth’s Edith Cowan University – ECU.

You can contact Laurie Varendorff @ email @ Laurie Varendorff ARMA; or Phone: Australia @ 0417 094 147 – International @ +61 417 094 147; Fax : Australia @ 08 9417 5981 – International @ +618 9417 5981 at Digital Microfilm Equipment – DME.

The author, Laurie Varendorff gives permission for the redistribution or republishing of this article by individuals and non-profit professional organisations without cost based on the condition that he as well as the URL of the article are recognised at the introduction of the article when redistributed or republished.

SPECIAL NOTE: Use of this article by publishers, commercial, government, or educational organisations requires a financial agreement to be negotiated with Laurie as the copyright holder for this work.