How to Import Typed Pages into Word

Office Lens IconCongratulations! You have a stack of typewritten pages. Now what? This is where the computer shines. It’s great for editing! Rather than re-typing pages into Word, I’ve had success with a smartphone app from Microsoft called Office Lens. It’s available for iOS, Android and Windows Phone.

Snap a picture of your typed page with Office Lens and it converts the image into editable text and uploads it to your Microsoft OneDrive account as a Word document. So what’s OneDrive? It’s the cloud storage component of Microsoft’s free suite of web-based productivity apps, which includes Outlook, Word, Excel & Powerpoint. You can edit your document in Word Online or download as a Word file. (I like to copy & paste into Scrivener, but that’s another story!)

The downside to Office Lens is that for each typed page that you capture, it creates a separate document, so there’s a bit of file management in order to combine these into a single document. But it’s much easier than re-typing all those pages! Plus, it does a pretty good job of optical character recognition. But hey, if you’ve followed my advice and not worried about spelling and grammar when writing on the typewriter, it’s still going to need lots of editing.

Even if you use Office Lens, it might be a worthwhile experiment to re-type the pages into the computer. I’ve found there’s another round of on-the-fly edit when you re-type. You won’t be entering your text verbatim. Instead, you’ll edit along the way. This flow might better suit your style, rather than having pages of text that you need to get through.


  1. I use a typewriter and to import pages into my computer I use an HP OfficeJet Pro I7580. It has a scan tray on top and after downloading the correct drivers from the HP website it converts my typed pages into PDF form perfectly. Also, when I scan in pages I have the options to adjust the contrast and all that jazz to make sure the pages come out perfectly clear.

    I would suggest to anyone who wants to write on a typewriter, but back up their work to a computer or hard drive investing in a solid printer with the ability to scan large documents all at once. It may be costly up front, but in the long term it will pay off. You will be able to print copies of your work or email them to friends/family/publishers/etc with ease.

    As for correcting mistakes, I wouldn’t be writing with a typewriter if I were worried about that. Plus, I will probably be rewriting it anyway so I just find and underline mistakes for future typing. However to solve this problem I am testing Adobe and my printer on their abilities to convert to Word documents. If this proves to work then misspellings and simple grammar mistakes I overlooked will no longer be an issue.

    I will update you on this progress of this process as it goes.

    • Actually you can get printers with a tray scanner very cheap these days. We have one and it only cost about 60€.

  2. My scanner has O.C.R., and I use a Linux distro in my computer. So, it’s easier for me to scan a typewritten page and transforming it in a text for computer…xD

  3. I wrote a novel about 65,000 words long on my Remington Rand Model 1 and had to retype most of it because the ink ribbon was too far gone, so the words weren’t recognized by the computer. I always save mine as a PDF and then a text file. However, since I don’t have a printer with scanning capabilities right now, this Office Lens sounds like a good idea!

  4. For some reason OneNote works better for me than Lens Office. My daily routine is: Type during the day. Upload and edit in the evening due to early sleepers. OneNote and Lens Office doesn’t convert text all that well but for it being free, I can’t complain and if I do it daily, I only need to upload 3-6 pages. Very manageable and it saves me from retyping everything. I love my typewriter for its distraction free writing but technology certainly helps.

  5. I found that the OCR capabilities of Google Docs works extremely well given that it’s free. I had a bit of trouble getting the same results from Office Lens.

    • The OCR in Google Docs really is very good and, using only my phone, I can upload multipage documents. The OCR I’ve used on documents handed out at conferences and the general scanning I’ve used with handwritten morning pages (no OCR on handwriting alas). I’m thinking of getting a typewriter and doing my morning pages using that. I would then do as Kimberley above suggested: write in the morning, edit in the evening. A lovely work schedule.

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