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Information Technology InfoGuide: Scanning


A scanner is available in the SLC Research Commons. The scanner has a document feeder for scanning several pages at a time, and it is also a flatbed scanner. It can scan up to legal (8.5” x 14”) size pages.

Some of the multifunction printers around campus can also scan. The large printer/scanner in the Prothro Building, 2nd floor can scan up to tabloid/ledger (11”x17”) size pages to your Southwestern email address. There is no fee for scanning but you will need your Pirate Card to swipe to gain access to the scanning features. You will need your Pirate Card to gain access to the building after hours.

A flatbed scanner with a document feeder and a photographic slide scanner are also available in the the SLC Sandbox (former 24-hour Print Lab space).  Reservations to use the equipment and software are not required but are highly recommended, especially if you are working with large PDF documents or scanning and editing a large number of photos/slides.

There is no fee associated with scanning.

Scanning to PDF

PDF, or portable document format, is the preferred file type for many professors and students for creating documents to be placed on Moodle and other sites. Not only are PDFs compatible with more programs on both Macs and Windows computer than .DOC files, they are more easily read on many different types of “computers” including mobile/tablet devices [e.g. iPad, iPod, iPhone, Android]. The PDF format is not recommended for pictures, for which image formats yield higher resolution, but is more than adequate for text and the graphics that might go with it. If you are using a Mac, the Preview application that comes with the Mac has many features for working with PDF documents - reordering pages, rotating pages, cropping, combining PDF documents, deleting pages to name a few. On a Windows computer, you will need to use Adobe Acrobat Professional/Standard; Adobe Reader does not have these editing capabilities.

Scanning to an Image File

Scanners can scan graphics to several image file formats including .BMP, .JPG, .TIF, and a compressed .TIF. If your ideal image type is not one of these, you may open the file in an imaging program after the scan and save it with a different format. Different image file formats have different attributes useful for different purposes.

The three most common image file formats are .TIF (TIFF), .JPG (JPEG) and .GIF. The TIFF file format is the leader in the best quality and is very commonly used in commercial printing and professional environments. JPEG and GIF file formats are preferred for web pages – JPEG is the best choice for photo images and GIF is most common for graphic images.

Photographic Images

Graphics, including Logos and Line Art


Continuous tones, 24 bit color or 8 bit gray, no text, few lines and edges

Solid colors, up to 256 colors with text or lines and sharp edges

Best Quality for Archived Master

TIF or PNG (no JPEG artifacts)

PNG, GIF, or TIF (no JPEG artifacts)

Smallest File Size

JPEG with a higher quality factor can be decent (JPEG is questionable quality for archiving master copies)

TIF, LZW, GIF, or PNG (graphics/logos usually permit reducing to 2 to 16 colors for smallest file size)

Maximum Compatibility (PC, Mac, Linux/Unix)

TIF or JPEG (the simplest programs may not read TIF or LZW)

TIF without LZW or GIF

Copyright Information

Scanned (digitized) reproductions of copyrighted materials are particularly susceptible to infringing copyright law of the United States (Title 17, U. S. Code).

The individual is wholly responsible for ensuring that use of materials being scanned fully complies with copyright law and with other possible restrictions on use.

For information on determining what work may be considered as “Fair Use” under the current copyright act, consult with Carol Fonken in Smith Library Center or visit U.S. Copyright Office - Fair Use.



SLC Research Commons