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PDFs and OCR in NVivo 9.2

PDF OCR Lit Review

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#1 danorooney


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Posted 03 April 2012 - 05:37 PM

Hi folks,

I have been using NVivo for textual data analysis for a short time now, but I am having difficulty with the new PDF functionality. I am trying to use NVivo to organize my lit review, which means that I'd like it to accept PDFs scanned from books (i.e., PDFs in landscape mode). I saved a PDF in adobe acrobat in landscape mode and expected to find it in NVivo in this format, but it doesn't appear to be able to do this. Is this true or is there an effective work around?

Second, I am running Win7 with Office 2010 (word, excel, publisher, access, onenote, powerpoint, and outlook). The directions in the NVivo manual refer to OCR software available in Office 2007, not 2010. Do I have OCR capabilities with my existing software for large batches of text (e.g., book chapters)? If not, what software, preferably freeware, would you recommend for OCR? A google search produces a list of software options with dubious credentials. I have seen that some rely on OCR software that came with their scanner/printers, but I am using library scanners and do not have this as an option.

Thank you for any help you might be able to give!

#2 Christyne



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Posted 03 April 2012 - 11:54 PM

Hi danorooney

So, Ialso encountered this problem just now, with the documents of mymonograph.Some eBooks is saved in PDF format, but like picture.NVivoThis format does not read, because it sees a pictureand not text.

I tried to convert using a wide variety of sources,but to no avail.If the book was originally saved as a picture, no matter how you change the format, it will continue to bea photo.

If the bookhas been saved as PDFtext in the"protected mode", you can't copy passages to quote -in my case- butcan readthe document inNVivo.

From what you said, these documents were saved as images.You need to scan them again in OCRand save themas text.
Christyne Rodrigues

#3 canarik


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Posted 04 April 2012 - 12:33 AM

Hi Danorooney and Christyne,

Nvivo does not make any modifications for your PDF. Thus, if your PDF file(s) is created from scanning, which many of the academic databases use, Nvivo can not recognize text in it and there is no work around for that.

In order to able to make Nvivo recognize the text in such files you should an OCR.

You can find hundereds of web sites recommending different OCR software. I have tested most of them, and realized that Acrobat software (Acrobat Pro) itself gives the best outcome with providing you many other useful tools. For that reason, I strongly suggest it for anyone working extensively with the PDFs.

Although Actobat Pro is quite expensive, if you are a student or a faculty member with an edu mail they give you nearly %80 down.

Can ARIK, Ph.D.

#4 QSR Support

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Posted 10 April 2012 - 02:46 PM


The PDF should look in NVivo 9 the same as it looks in Adobe Reader. If the file appears in landscape mode in Adobe Reader but not in NVivo, please contact us directly via email at support@qsrinternational.com mentioning this forum post. Also provide us the PDF file for investigation.

NVivo 9 does not have OCR capabilities. QSR has done no testing on OCR software and as such we are unable to recommend any OCR software.

I hope this helps.


Mohammad Shakeb

QSR Support

QSR International Pty Ltd
2nd Floor, 651 Doncaster Road | Doncaster Victoria 3108 Australia

Find answers to your support questions or raise new support requests online at:


#5 Totoro



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Posted 13 April 2012 - 05:48 AM

Although Actobat Pro is quite expensive, if you are a student or a faculty member with an edu mail they give you nearly %80 down.

I used Adobe Acrobat X Pro and it can OCR your entire folder with one click. It did hundreds of documents in one swoop. Well worth it to me.

I also use it to organize email archives. It is really a great software. I don't know how I did without it for so long.

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