How to Transcribe Handwritten Notes to Text

How to Transcribe Handwritten Notes to Text
Beth Worthy

Beth Worthy


With handwriting recognition (HWR) poised to grow at 15% from 2020 to 2028, it’s clear that many corporate organizations and government agencies are seeking out cheaper ways to digitize documents for filing purposes and to minimize data input errors.

If you wish to quickly digitize the notes you wrote on paper or want to transcribe written historical documents, there are two popular ways to do it: handwriting transcription services or optical character recognition (OCR) technology. Here’s a detailed look at both options.

6 Ways to Transcribe Handwritten Notes to Text:

1. Professional Document Transcription Services

If you need to transcribe your handwritten notes to text, then the best way is to use a professional human transcription service. Whether it’s a case of hard-to-read handwriting or a large number of handwritten documents, a professional document transcription service can solve all your problems.

Contrary to AI tools, professional handwriting transcription services with human transcriptionists can provide 98-99% accuracy and also proofread text documents helping you achieve the greatest precision for your document.

However, if you are really short on time and are confident about the clarity of your handwritten note, then you can use the below-mentioned automated services.

2. Microsoft OneNote

MS OneNote allows you to write notes on digital touch screens. It also includes OCR functionality that you can use to transcribe handwritten notes to text. The app is available on all main digital platforms, including Windows, Android, iOS, and the web. Follow these steps to convert your manual notes with the app:

  • Choose “Lasso Select” on the Draw tab
  • Drag the Lasso tool around your handwritten notes on the page
  • Click “Ink to Text” on the Draw tab  

If you captured your notes as an image on your device, start by importing the picture to OneNote. Right-click on the imported image and choose “Copy to Text From Picture.” In under a minute, the tool will recognize the characters on the image and convert them to text that you can edit and share digitally.

See Also: The Multiple Benefits of Handwriting Transcription 

3. Simple OCR

Without paying a dime, you can use Simple OCR to convert handwritten notes to a legible digital format. The tool is capable of deciphering about 120,000 words, and users can add more to the database.

Whether you’re working with a whole document, multiple documents, or just a small section, you can easily get your notes conversions with the original formatting intact.  

The app is super-fast and can convert notes with an accuracy of up to 99%, although it’s usually this effective with printed text on images. Still, it has a “noisy document” feature that you may use to generate more accurate transcriptions if you’re working with messy handwriting. This tool is only available on desktops, however.

4. Online OCR

One outstanding feature of Online OCR is that it can recognize symbols/letters from multiple languages. It has a pretty straightforward interface where you can upload your image or document with handwritten notes.

It won’t take you more than a minute to get your converted text ready for download in your preferred format, including MS Word. While Online OCR isn’t always accurate, it’s worth checking out if you aren’t converting too many documents. Plus, it’s freeware and requires no registration. 

5. Google Drive and Docs

When you don’t have the budget for professional document transcription services, Google has some incredibly accurate tools for your consideration. Start by accessing Google Drive on your device, be it a smartphone, tablet, PC, or iPhone.

If you’re scanning the notes with your smartphone, tap the plus sign (+) in the bottom corner of the app and choose “Scan.” You’ll get a PDF version of your notes, which you can’t edit inside Drive yet, that you can index or search.

You need your desktop to obtain editable text from the PDF you created earlier. Next, locate the file in Drive, right-click on it, click “Open with,” and select “Google Docs.” This step allows you to convert your notes to text that can be processed in Docs or copied to any other word processor.

You May Like: 8 Ways Transcribing Journals Can Make You Super Productive

6. TopOCR

TopOCR offers one of the most efficient ways to transcribe handwritten notes to text and supports 11 languages. You can accomplish a lot with the free version of the app, provided that you have a Windows PC and digital scanning of your notes.

To get a high-quality auto-transcription, make sure your scanned content appears from left to right.

The platform is easy to use and features a two-pane interface. Your original notes will appear on the left, and the converted text on the right. It has a paid version with more features.  

Get 99% Accurate Handwritten Note Transcriptions

Do you regularly scribble down notes that you need to be preserved, or have old handwritten notes you want to be digitized? GMR Transcription Services, Inc. can help you. AI bots and algorithms can only do so much, which is why we don’t use them.

Instead, all our transcriptionists are human and native English speakers based in the U.S. They can convert handwritten notes to texts with industry-leading accuracy of 99%. We have extensive experience producing high-quality, editable text from academic essays, century-old writings, historical papers, and more, including the most difficult handwriting. 

With GMR Transcription Services, Inc., you can get your texts in your desired format and within a day or two if needed. With our handwriting transcription services, you can quickly convert your old or everyday handwritten notes into digital text for easy storage, editing, and sharing. Contact us to get started today!

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Beth Worthy

Beth Worthy

Beth Worthy is the Cofounder & President of GMR Transcription Services, Inc., a California-based company that has been providing accurate and fast transcription services since 2004. She has enjoyed nearly ten years of success at GMR, playing a pivotal role in the company's growth. Under Beth's leadership, GMR Transcription doubled its sales within two years, earning recognition as one of the OC Business Journal's fastest-growing private companies. Outside of work, she enjoys spending time with her husband and two kids.