ICR vs. OCR: The evolution of OCR to IDP and why you need a modern solution

ICR vs. OCR – what is the right solution for you? ICR and IDP have come a long way from their origins in template-based OCR — and today’s cloud-based technology is taking this even further.


OCR and AI: How modern automated processing works

AI is changing the game for ICR vs. OCR solutions. Here’s how modern automated processing works.


Optical character recognition (OCR) and intelligent character recognition (ICR) are two of the most common types of technologies used for character recognition. They are both used to extract text from images so that users don’t have to input data by hand. 

Understanding ICR vs. OCR, as well as when to use ICR vs. OCR, is crucial to achieving greater efficiency in your workflow. While both technologies are incredibly useful for automating text entry and conversion, there are some key differences between the two to be aware of. 

OCR compares letters from a processed image to a large database of characters, identifying each character and converting it to text form. It is well-suited for typewritten documents. ICR is a more advanced version of OCR that yields better results when working with handwritten documents. 

It uses context, previously-defined user inputs, and other data in order to recognize and convert handwritten characters. In other words, OCR is great for clearer, more straightforward documents, while ICR is often required for complex, handwritten documents. It’s also important to understand the difference between scanner and OCR technology. Scanners copy documents as image files, while OCR converts files to editable formats.

There are many different types of ICR and OCR handwriting recognition tools. This technology can be extremely helpful for automating text conversion, but it still has a long way to go; there are still several ways in which these tools, especially those for OCR, fall short. The Rossum platform goes a step beyond traditional OCR to extract data, even as your algorithms change. 

Unlike OCR, which relies heavily on pre-set rules and databases, Rossum processes documents in much the same way that humans do, viewing text in context. With Rossum, you can minimize the amount of time you spend manually processing documents. This can ultimately lead to improved business outcomes all around.


OMR stands for optical mark recognition and refers to an electronic method to collect data through markings. OMR deals primarily with test and survey forms and works by reading fill-in-the-bubble-type responses and other forms of multiple-choice responses. 

Unlike OCR and ICR, OMR doesn’t look at specific words and characters, but markings. It inputs data based on where forms have been shaded in with pens, pencils, or otherwise. To better understand OCR vs ICR vs OMR, or OCR vs OMR, it can be helpful to view specific examples of each.

Each of these technologies is extremely useful when it comes to data extraction, but some are better suited for certain businesses and industries than others. For instance, OCR may be best utilized by schools that offer multiple-choice tests or polling organizations that regularly deploy surveys. 

OCR can benefit accounts payable teams that need help processing invoices. ICR is valuable for companies that require advanced tools to read and convert complex documents. Learning the differences between these technologies and how they are used can help you to choose the most appropriate tools or software for your business.

Best ICR software for handwriting recognition

When looking for the best ICR software for handwriting recognition, it’s important to consider your unique business needs. Outlining your needs and desired outcomes can help you filter your options and narrow in on the solutions that are most aligned with your business objectives. 

With the growing demand for OCR and ICR technologies, new and improved tools are entering the market each day, but this can make choosing between platforms tricky. By doing a little bit of research ahead of time, you can more easily understand how each of them differs. 

Usually, however, the best handwriting recognition software is that which can read multiple types of handwriting. For example, you want something that’s compatible with both pen and pencil and that can distinguish between printed and cursive handwriting. 

Tools that can recognize several different types of handwriting are more advanced and can do more for your business. Still, each company has different needs, and so if you primarily work with one specific type of handwriting, you can still benefit from more simple software. This is also true for those that work with relatively few documents or manage otherwise uncomplicated workflows.

Best ICR software

Finding the best ICR software for your organization can be difficult, but by viewing examples and case studies, you can get a better idea of what each platform brings to the table. This can allow you to choose the software that’s best suited for your workflow. If you want to automate data capture, you should look for a platform with automation capabilities. 

Likewise, if you require something that can read multiple types of handwriting, you should look for a platform that’s designed to do so. Different platforms are built for different aspects of ICR, so it’s important to do your research on different types of software before implementing a new solution.

The best handwriting recognition ICR software for one business isn’t necessarily the best software for another. As such, while reviews can be useful in determining which platforms have been most valuable to other companies, you shouldn’t rely on ratings alone. Look at each ICR algorithm and what types of handwriting different platforms are compatible with. Advanced tools are capable of reading and converting even the sloppiest of handwriting. You may require software like this, depending on the types of documents you work with.


OMR and OCR are similar, but they look at different things when scanning documents. OCR stands for optical character recognition and reads documents by comparing characters to pre-set templates and databases. 

Optical mark recognition, or OMR, uses an optical scanner to detect marks on the paper. Then, based on where and at what position the marks are made, the OMR determines the fed data results. Understanding OMR vs OCR is critical for those that work in document processing. Knowing when and how to use each can help to simplify your workflow and ease the burden of manual processing.

Magnetic ink character recognition (MICR) is another type of technology for recognition. It is most often used to identify and process checks. So how does MICR work? MICR works by matching magnetic ink with the magnetic information of the algorithm. 

Rather than having to process each check by hand, banks can automate this process using magnetic ink and scanning technology. MICR isn’t typically used by most businesses, but can be extremely valuable for banks and other financial institutions that regularly process large volumes of checks. It can save them time and help to prevent and catch errors.

Advantages of OCR

The advantages of OCR are extensive and far-reaching. Knowing how to define OCR and explain its benefits can help get the rest of your team on board with the technology. 

Demonstrating how it can improve the efficiency of their workflow while aiding in your wider business operations is critical to getting the most out of the software. In order to leverage it to the greatest extent possible, you need to go in with a thorough understanding of how it works. You need to know how it’s going to integrate with your existing systems.

While the functions of OCR vary slightly from platform to platform, its ultimate purpose is to automate and simplify data extraction. OCR extracts data automatically and converts it to an editable format. This prevents users from having to input data by hand. Needless to say, this can be extremely beneficial for organizations that process large volumes of documents. 

OCR can also help catch errors that users would have otherwise missed with the naked eye. While the upfront costs associated with OCR software can be high, these tools yield a massive ROI. Organizations that spend less time on manual data extraction have more time to spend on business-critical tasks. This can help to increase revenue. 

Functions of OMR

To define OMR — and understand the functions of this technology — it’s important to note the difference between barcode reader and optical mark reader technology. Simply put, barcode readers look specifically at barcodes, while OMR looks at markings made by humans, usually with a pen or pencil. 

One of the primary functions of OMR is test grading. This technology is extremely beneficial for teachers and others within the educational system as they go about grading standardized tests. When grading fill-in-the-bubble quizzes, it can be easy to lose track of the row you’re working on, which can lead to catastrophic errors. 

Grading can also be time-consuming, and so by utilizing OMR tools, educators can achieve greater efficiency in their workflows. Time saved grading can result in more time spent teaching. 

OMR can also be useful for those that manage surveys. For example, if you work for a political organization and use fill-in-the-bubble-type polls, you can get through forms faster with automated OMR tools. 

These are just a few of the most useful functions of OMR, but you may find there are others that benefit your business equally. You can experiment with different tools and solutions to see what’s most helpful for your workflow. Some tools can even integrate with other systems, giving you the best of both worlds.

ICR vs. OCR: Choose document processing powered by AI

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