If you receive a picture of data, don’t panic: You don’t have to enter it by hand. Microsoft Word can convert the image into text for you.
Image: Sai/Adobe Stock
If you’re putting together a Microsoft Office document and receive textual content in the form of an image file, you might panic, especially if you’re staring down a fast-approaching deadline. Manually entering all that data eats into your time and opens the document up to typos and other errors. The good news is that you don’t have to do this. Instead, you can use Microsoft Word to convert the image into text. The results won’t be perfect, but it will be better than working from scratch.
In this tutorial, I’ll show you how to convert an image file into text that you can then use in Word or copy into Microsoft Excel or Microsoft PowerPoint. Word for the web will let you copy an image into a document and then download the file as a .pdf file, so you’ll still need the desktop version to complete the technique.
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I’m using Microsoft 365 on a Windows 10 64-bit system, but you can use earlier versions of Word.
How to copy an image into Word
You can’t open an image file in Word, but you can copy it into a Word document. Let’s suppose that you took a screenshot of a web page at TechRepublic.com and saved it to your local system. To copy that image into a Word document, you’d do the following:
- Use File Explorer to locate the image.
- Select the image and press Ctrl + C to copy the image to the Clipboard. If the image is available online, in an email or PowerPoint presentation file, right-click it and choose Copy Image.
- Open a blank Word document and press Ctrl + V to copy the image into the document (Figure A). With the image selected, you can clearly see that it’s an image and not text.
You can tell this is an image, not text, by the border.
If you’re working with an older version of Word and you can control the image format, save the image as a .png file. Doing so will eliminate many conversion issues in older versions of Word.
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Once the image is inside Word, you’re ready to start converting it to text.
How to convert an image in Word
There’s no conversion feature or option in Word, but that isn’t a problem. By saving the .docx file as a .pdf file and then opening the .pdf file in Word, Word converts the image into text. To begin, save the Word file with the copied image by clicking the File tab, choosing Save As or Save a Copy (OneDrive), and then doing the following:
- Enter a name for the file, ImageWordSaveAsPDF.
- Choose PDF (*.pdf) from the Save dropdown (Figure B).
- Click Save.
Save the Word file with the image as a .pdf file.
By default, your Adobe viewing app should open the new .pdf file. The content is still an image. Save the .pdf file by clicking the File menu and choosing Save As, as shown in Figure C. You can change the name, or not, but note the location of the saved .pdf.
Save the .pdf file.
Return to Word. Click the File tab and choose Open. Locate the .pdf file, as shown in Figure D, and click Open. When Word prompts you to convert the file to text, as shown in Figure E, click OK.
Use Word to open the .pdf file.
Word warns you that it will convert the image to text if you continue.
You can now edit the text.
As you can see in Figure F, the converted image is now editable text. As I mentioned earlier, the results won’t always be perfect. You might lose formatting and the file might contain text that you don’t want to keep.
In the example file, you might want to do the following:
- Straighten up the right margin a bit by removing unnecessary hard returns.
- Apply the style Normal or some other style, so everything is the same.
- Run the Editor just in case: Interestingly, the conversion turned the y in the word “you” into a v.
- Delete the marketing text at the bottom.
I think most would agree that tweaking the converted text is much easier than entering it manually from the keyboard. Once the text is in shape, you can save it as a Word document or copy the text to an Excel sheet or PowerPoint slide.
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