Anyone who does research – for fiction or non-fiction writing or any other reason – might not be aware of how useful Google Docs can be these days.
I don’t use it as a wordprocessing program, but I do often use it for a specific purpose when I’m doing research that involves having to extract information from printed books. In the old days it was a question of either copying stuff out by hand or photocopying the relevant pages. But even when photocopying, if you wanted to get things into an editable text document on your computer you still had to manually input everything into say a Word document.
There have long been some decent free OCR programs around. These recognise text from an image – eg from scanned or photographed pages of a book – and try to convert the picture of the text into an actual text document.
But now there’s an even more convenient way. When uploading an image of some text to Google Docs (you will obviously need a Google account) the program can automatically convert the image into an editable text document, which in turn can be converted into a Word document if that’s your weapon of choice.
I’m currently working on something about the Battle of Waterloo and scanning pages from books. I’ve discovered that my printer’s scanning program actually has an option to send the images directly to Google Docs with one click!
All OCR programs regularly struggle to recognise some characters, so there is often still work to be done to tidy things up. It’s all a question of time and effort. If you have a good quality image and Goole Docs or some other OCR program works well, you can save yourself an awful lot of time and RSI symptoms!