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The title asks it all. I have before me a data entry task that I'm not too enthusiastic about: 50-100 pages of handwritten sign out/sign in logs.

The format of the logs may help. Pages are partitioned into clearly delineated rows and columns (13r x 6c with an extra typed header row). Further helping me out is that three columns are date/time related (date, time out, time in). Also, the data in two of the columns (resource and name) are more or less enumerated, so that, for example, the name "Smith" might appear time and again in the name column, each time with the same handwriting. The last column, "Notes", is free form, but if I could automate the previous 6 columns, I wouldn't mind entering Notes by hand.

Any suggestions? (Besides 'start typing'.)

PS If there's a better SE site to ask this, let me know, I'll ask there.

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Can you post a sample scan of the log? –  Martin Thompson Mar 12 '12 at 14:17
    
Sure thing, though I will want to change names to protect innocent parties... give me a few minutes please. –  psoft Mar 12 '12 at 14:25
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Dont bother with Captricity- they ask for your email, and send u a "link email" with out a link. –  user5224 Aug 14 '13 at 1:07

2 Answers 2

tesseract is probbaly the best and most widespread OCR library.

It has been tested with handwriting and isn't too bad - although handwriting isn't an easy thing to read. http://arxiv.org/ftp/arxiv/papers/1003/1003.5893.pdf

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If you have under 10 pages, Captricity can do it for free.

Out of the box, there are no good open source solutions to what you're looking for. Paid solutions cost a lot to license. This is based our experience building a handwriting OCR service at Captricity. We do use tesseract in production, but only as a vote that is combined with human intelligence (crowdsourcing) to deliver a high level of quality.

Hope that helps!

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