"Expanding the Lawyers Mind--
New Personal Information Management Software Promises
to Help. Will it Deliver?"
By: Paul D. Supnik
An edited version of this article was originally published in Computer Counselor column of the March 1989 issue of the Los Angeles Lawyer Magazine.
Comments are generalizations and may not apply to every situation. It is advisable to consult with a competent professional before relying on any written commentary. Paul D. Supnik is a member of the State Bar of California and not of any other state or country. The material set forth herein is not for the purpose of soliciting any engagements where to do so would be to offend or violate the professional standards of any other state, country or bar. This web page Copyright 1989, 1996 by Paul D. Supnik
The article reviews PIM's, Personal Information Management software. It traces its origins from outlining programs, shows how category management and other features have been combined with the outlining programs, and shows how the programs may be used in a law office. Specific programs reviewed are Agenda by Lotus, GrandView by Symantec, Info-XL by Valor and IZE by Persoft. Also briefly described are MaxThink and PC-Outline.
Expanding the Lawyers Mind--New Personal Information Management Software Promises to Help. Will it Deliver?
A new type of software program has come into existence primarily during the past year. These programs have been named PIM or Personal Information Management software. Advertising proclaims they will expand your mind and is an extension of "human software". It will give you the big picture and the small details and allow you to view information in ways you never thought were possible. Examples of PIM software currently on the market include Agenda by Lotus Development Corporation ($395), Info-XL by Valor Software ($295), GrandView by Symantec Corporation ($295) and IZE ($445) by Persoft. This month, The Computer Counselor will examine some of the different types of software in this field, what the programs do, how they do it, why they are beneficial and whether they make cost effective use of lawyers time.
First my conclusion -- yes, the software is beneficial, and some type of PIM is probably worth the time spent by most lawyers to learn. However, the programs are markedly different by way of operation, ease of use and results. For more familiar categories of software where the end result is pretty much the same. Thus, most word processors provide a finished document ready to send to the client or court, data bases provide reports or mailing labels and spreadsheets provide a matrix of numbers. However, the end result with PIM software can be a finished document, an outline, or a chart. The end result can depict items of information in rows with adjacent columns highlighting bits of information associated with the items such as people, events and dates and priorities. PIM software can generate perpetual calendars with dates linked to various people.
Why is it worth a lawyers time to learn PIM software? One way to evaluate that question is to examine a lawyers needs by considering what a lawyer does during the course of a month. A litigator will be preparing motions, writing legal briefs, taking and defending depositions, scheduling court appearances, and meeting with clients and witnesses. If a trial is looming in the background, trial preparation will involve preparing witness testimony, preparing outlines of questioning for direct and cross-examination, reviewing depositions, preparing briefs, analyzing issues and preparing jury instructions, identifying issues to prove and evidence available, preparing opening statement and summation, voir dire and exhibit lists, and maintaining witness contact.
A lawyer in the business or transactional area will be preparing and organizing contract clauses and agreement issues lists, maintaining lists of contacts, people and clients, creating lists of issues and rendering legal opinions upon which clients' decisions may depend and preparing reports and opinion letters. Each of the above tasks for the litigation or transactional lawyer can be enhanced or facilitated by PIM software.
With those tasks in mind, consider how the following software might be used. I will begin by discussing predecessor software which has a part in PIM software, and that is the outlining program. The outlining program allows you to figuratively find the forest from the trees, and lets you put ideas into the computer from your mind without need for initial organization. Examples of outlining programs are PC-Outline(1)
, a shareware program, Thinktank, MaxThink(2)
and Ready. In the MacIntosh world, there is a program called More. One of PC-Outline's features was that it could be used as a memory resident program--that is, even if you were working in another program on a document, such as a brief in a word processing program, you could have the program "pop up" over your brief and work on PC-Outline, without otherwise interrupting what you were doing. Ready! was also a memory resident program. Thinktank seemed to be the big popular commercial program. Maxthink and its author took a philosophical approach and emphasized the way in which one thinks, reviews, analyses and solves problems.
As an example of how an outline program is used, consider the expansion and contraction of a simple outline. To see the basic structure of an outline simply press a single key and the entire outline will collapse to the level (e.g. roman numerals) that you are on. If the level you are looking at begins with a capital letter rather than a small letter with parenthesis, the smallest detail seen will be with the topics having capital letters. Another keystroke will expand to enable you to see the details under that topic with the capital letters. The second key feature characteristic of outline programs is the ability to "promote" or "indent" topics. In other words, you can move a topic from being a capital letter topic to a Roman numeral topic in a single keystroke. A third basic characteristic common to outline programs is the ability to move a topic quickly to a different place in the outline while the rest of the outline automatically adjusts its numbering to conform to the move.
There are several basic reasons why outline programs and, in a similar manner, PIM's are beneficial. The programs allow you to put ideas down at the computer while you are thinking about them, without the concern about organization at the time. This frees your mind to think, rather than organize. The programs allow you to analyze information and the structure of information without cluttering your mind with extraneous material by the ability to collapse and expand the outline. The programs allow you to organize material into a logical structure in a free form environment, without the necessity of casting it in stone, or on hard copy until you are ready.
In many ways, the PIM software has taken these initial outline programs steps beyond and have combined them with calendars, databases, and structures or indexing and concordances. PIM's are not all outlining programs and some only have minor aspects which are reminiscent of the outline program. Thus, Grandview is an example of a PIM program in which outlining is one of its major features. Agenda and IZE, while including some outlining functions, are primarily other than outlining programs.
To the extent that the outlining features are significant to a PIM program, consider how the outlining program can be used on your desk to help prepare a brief. Normally you would have various ideas as to what you are trying to convince the court to do. Each one of those thoughts might be an entry in an outline. The problem with outlining as you were taught in school is that once you wrote something down, you had a problem changing it because either the idea was written in the wrong place, it had the wrong indentation or could not be rearranged, without tearing up the paper, erasing or scratching out the offending entry. Here, you can put down all ideas you have for your brief as separate entries. You can put case titles and ideas relating to those titles down as separate entries and either make them subentries or not. Afterwards, or in the process of developing the brief, you can then rearrange the points in a matter of a few keystrokes. Text can be added to the ideas and the outline can be fleshed out. Then you can concentrate on the hierarchy of the outline entries that you have made for your brief. You can move less important issues down. You can delete or bring other ideas to major headings. You can copy cases from one point to another. You can move entries. And when your outline has become too cluttered, you can simply collapse the outline so that the lower priority headlines are all that remains and the subentries are no longer present. That way you can get the overall picture of the brief. Ready to see the details? Another keystroke and the outline beneath the outline entry expands. For another example, consider your to do list in preparing for trial. You take each element of the to do list as a separate outline entry. Under each of those basic entries, create a subheading for what has to be done. For a witness list, each name and phone number might be a separate line entry. On a subentry, consider putting an outline of the testimony that a witness might give, with further entries or subentries for problematic cross-examination.
Now lets expand beyond the outline program to the PIM program. Consider that associated with several outline entries, there are dates to calendar yet not worth the effort to have your secretary put the entry on the master calendar. Info-XL will permit your entry of that information as it has an outline entry linked calendar. Suppose you want to have the name, address and phone number of the witness instantly available? Info-XL will provide one or more database records linked to an outline entry for that purpose. What if you want an outline program that blends into a word processing program and allows you to fully refine a brief while still using the benefits of the outlining program? Then try Grandview. With that introduction, I will now try to individually review several of the new programs out on the market.
Personal Information Managers
One characteristic PIM's share in common is some basic ability to use the concepts of outlining, that is, creating hierarchies of ideas. Thus some ideas become more important than others. A common thread among these programs is supposedly that they are all usable for the purpose of digesting lots of different types of information, without organization, organizing later and then being able to retrieve useful information. The programs range from the simple to the complex and, at present, usable only by the attorney who will invest a considerable amount of time to get to learn the program.
I found Agenda to be a complex, professional, sophisticated and well developed program. My original reaction was that it probably was not for the average attorney without a lot of hand holding. The scenario would be that the attorney would try it for a few hours, maybe a few days, give up and have a bad taste regarding this type of PIM.
However, after using the program a while, I found that it was not as limited as other programs, and that various features could be simplified by creating macros.(3)
My reaction is if you buy it, plan to put in a significant amount of time to learn to use it. What is required is a book showing how to use the program in a lawyers environment. It then will become a valuable addition to the lawyers office.
Who Can Use Agenda?
The program is not designed for the computer programmer, though it may appeal more to the MBA rather than the J.D. It is clearly beneficial for a partner managing several associates in a law firm. The program might be even more beneficial to a senior attorney, though presently it is more likely that the associates are more likely to have a PC on their desk (take note associates). A lawyer will not be pleased with Agenda if one wants it to work instantly. You must spend time with it. Moreover, the benefits may not be immediately apparent until a fairly complex matrix of information is in place. After it has been used for a period of time, the benefits become apparent.
How it Works
How does agenda work? It assigns "categories" of your choice, such as legal issues, priorities, "when" dates, people and case citation. You type in "items" (a term of art in Agenda) typically from a few words to a few sentences or phrases describing an issue, something to be done. An example of items are: "Don't forget to send discovery letter to opposing counsel by the last day of the month", "send Smith a witness list" or "prepare a draft of the licensing agreement, have it reviewed by Richard Jackson" or "Big Corp. was negligent in the design of the table."
You then assign "categories" to items. The first item example may suggest the categories "send", "discovery", "letter", "opposing counsel" and "when". In the "send" column might be the words "discovery letter". Typing "last day of the month" will translate automatically, for example, to 11/31/88.
The second item may suggest the categories "send", "Smith" and "witness list". Under the column "send" might appear both Smith and "witness list".
By pressing the F9 key in Agenda, you can switch instantly from a column view showing information in a column chart, to a "category manager" view which places the categories in hierarchies as in an outline. Here is where the outline concepts relate to Agenda, though they do not become the focus of the program as they do in, for example, Grandview or Info XL. In the "category manager" view, for example, you might see "to" as a category and indented from "to" might be the names "Smith", "Jones", "Opposing Counsel" each on separate lines.
Some information may automatically be assigned to categories already set up by the text in the item. For example, if a "when" column is established, as the date is typed in an item, the corresponding date appears. Thus, if a name is assigned to a category, the name will appear in the category.
The priority of doing a task set out in an item may be important to the user of the program. "Priority" may be set out as a column category, and having the subcategories "low", "medium" and "high". By simply typing in L, M & H, it may be sufficient to allocate that priority to the item.
What are the applications in a lawyers office for Agenda? Information for briefs can be collected and organized in a manner in which key issues are displayed in a column chart format. A database of people and their positions in companies and relationship to a case or your practice can be kept. Agenda can be used for case management to display information about cases in various ways. The "items" can be a brief narrative about a case or case brief. Columns "categories" can be established for dates, people, parties, and counsel. To do lists for specific cases can be prepared in which various types of documents are set forth, along with due dates, people to talk to. Contracts features can be organized by including the elements of a contract, people to contact, individuals having responsibilities under the contract, boilerplate elements. "Items" can be short narratives of a clause, or the clause itself. "Notes" attached to items can be the actual contract language or notations regarding problems and difficulties with the contract clause.(4)
Columns categories can include "when" dates, priority in relation to whether clause is a "deal point" (of course for internal use only), source (from prior version of contract, from form book, or from contract with another company), proposed placement in the contract (beginning, middle, end), source of alternative clauses, and perhaps value benefit to the company.
The reason the program is usable by the lawyer is that not all information has to be typed in to be created. Some is generated in the columns automatically. Much of the information requires only the typing of a few letters to prompt you as to whether you want the computer to complete the statement with a computer generated proposed fill in. And if you are not sure what information to fill in, it will allow you to look at a list, move the cursor to point to the appropriate category and press the enter key to select the category.
Lotus is a big company behind it with lots of money for promotion. For example, in recent publications, Lotus had a 4 page heavy slick paper color advertisement on the use of the product. This size can be a decided advantage, in that it tends to promote third party products produced for it, and is likely to result in a greater readership and user base.
Agenda includes portion of Lotus' memory resident program "Metro" which in itself takes up considerable memory. This allows you to clip information from other programs, or e.g. from LEXIS or Westlaw, and import them into Agenda.
Unlike databases, which require a structure before entering information, or textbase programs, which essentially lack structure, this type of a program creates structure as information is added.
Highly sophisticated structures may be set up using conditions so that if certain text appears, it is automatically assigned to certain categories. The words "brief", "discovery" and "motion" may automatically assign an item containing those words to the category "litigation".
Agenda is not an outline program, despite the ability of agenda to operate as an outline program in the "category manager" view. It can be used as an outline program and has many of the same features, such as quick movement, promotion and indentation of headings, and the expansion and collapse of headings. However, it is best used in the outline mode as a tool developing information to view and categories information placed in "items". More importantly, the organization is free form. You can see the information from different perspectives, with different juxtapositions of various types of information.
Agenda then automatically assigns items to categories based on word text in the items, providing those categories have been previously assigned. It automatically translates word dates to numerical dates; e.g. "next Tuesday" might translate to 12/20/88 or other permitted formats--a very convenient feature.
Agenda allows you to determine text, profile and date conditions upon which features depend. An item becomes assigned to a category if it meets the conditions setup. Thus, if the item contains text of the category name, it is assigned to that category. Profile conditions allow that if certain Boolean combinations(5)
appear in the item, they are assigned to a particular category. "When", "done" and "entry" dates can be used to further refer to a "condition". If the item meets the condition, Agenda will allow various "actions" to occur. Thus, the item can be assigned to one or more categories. The item can be discarded or exported to a special file. A "when" date or calendaring date can be set or an "item" can be marked as "done".
Documents created with other programs, such as with word processing programs, can be imported into agenda with a utility program supplied with Agenda. You can specify how that information is to be divided up. For example, it might be divided up by paragraph or by sentence to create separate items for each. A "clipboard" feature taken from the Lotus "Metro" comes with Agenda and allows material to be pasted and transposed from another document directly into Agenda.
Although the suggested retail price seems high, the documentation is very good and the program works smoothly. This appears to be one of those "big" programs which may warrant specific classes on how to use and benefit from the program. New time management and information management seminars likely to begin--keep your eye on the UCLA extension catalog. The program does take up 1.5 megabytes of your hard disk and requires 640K RAM. The greatest benefits to the average lawyer will probably come as specific templates and examples are available to show lawyer specific uses.
Info-XL is probably the simplest program of the PIM's reviewed here. The concept of the program can be rapidly grasped, and has some of the features of Agenda, but is much more structured.
Info-XL can be used for the ordinary attorney with ordinary applications. Typical applications for Info XL would be collecting information for briefs in outline form. Additional features which Info XL is capable of would include keeping a structured database of people, addresses, phone numbers and their positions in companies. Another might be a database of exhibits, parties, manner of proof, each tied to a particular issue or issues in a case, as developed in outline form in the "manager" portion of the program.
How Info-XL works
The program puts up to five windows on the screen. The first window, called "Manager", is essentially an outline window and operates much like an outlining program. Dates may be attached to outline entries but in a fairly rigid format. Info-XL does not respond to "next Friday" type of dating, which is available in Agenda.
A second window is a "Records" window in which one or more databases, for example, a database of contacts, can be recorded. Each database record is tied to a heading in the "manager" window. As a name, for example, appears in the manager window, a database type entry screen appears with the name, address and telephone, for example, in the "records" window. The "records" window thus allows you to attach a "record" to an outline entry of the "manager". The list of records could be used or "exported" in the form of a database file. For example, if you just spoke to a new client on the phone, you might have taken down name and address information and made a note to call next week at 11:00 AM. The name and address would go in the record file and the time would go in the daily calendar.
A third window is a "comments" window which allows the freeflow unrestricted entry of notes or essentially unlimited comments, again, tied to a specific outline headline in the manager window.
A fourth window is a daily calendar. The daily calendar provides entries when a date is established in the manager window. Thus, if there is an entry in the manager window to attend a hearing on 12/20/88, that entry will also appear in the daily calendar window on that particular day. A fifth window is a small monthly calendar with the numbers of the days of the month appearing. The monthly calendar underlines days for which there are corresponding entries in the "manager" window, and thus in the daily calendar window.
All windows, except the monthly calendar window, can be expanded or "zoomed" to fill the entire screen, rather than simply appear as a small window on the screen.
The program allows "links" permitting the entry of headline items in more than one location. Change of text in one location affects the text in other locations. Thus, if the date of a linked item referring to an appointment is changed, the change appears in all other categories where it appears.
The main benefits to the program are that it is simple to learn, yet provides various views of information in outline format, while tying it to both calendar and database entries. As with outline programs, it allows you to enter information immediately in a free form manner and organize it later. The program is appropriate for a lawyer without much experience using a computer.
The program probably could use more features and flexibility. If a large user base were achieved, this would be more likely. The program is somewhat simplistic and could use more refinement. For example, there is no way to save what is in the program without exiting the database. Its date entry could be simpler for a program so dependent on dates. The program could use on line help screens, and not just pull down menus. The version of the program reviewed has an annoying double beep when an incorrect key is hit. The printer commands are not well developed, and it does not appear that the information in the outline can be easily exported to a word processing format.
GrandView is a program that combines the features of an outlining program, a word processing program, and a database program allowing the linkages of categories to headlines or entries in an outline. The outlining program is fully featured. The word processing component is substantial and includes a spelling checker. The database aspect, which perhaps places this program in the PIM category, appears to be a simpler version of some of what Agenda has to offer.
GrandView is said to provide three separate views of a file. One is an outline view in which an outline appears. A document view isolates an unstructured document, paragraphs, comments or notes, which are associated with an outline headline without the distraction by headlines of the outline. A category view is available showing the relationship of categories to headlines. Each of the views can be seen by simply a few keystrokes. F5 moves from the outline view to a view of a headline associated document. F3 takes one from the outline view to the category view where categories and assignments to categories are shown.
The program is more complicated than the outline programs from which it was developed. Thus, it has similarities in feel to PC-Outline, but takes the program several steps further.
While it has its own word processor, I question whether lawyers will use it to generate final documents, unless the documents are only for internal use. It is less likely to be used as a word processor to generate briefs, for example, though the program is ideally suited to initially generate the outlines for briefs and which can be finally edited on another word processor. For one used to working with PC- Outline, once an outline had been created, it had to be transferred to word processor, if a finished document for other than internal law office use was desired. PC-Outline had limited formatting capability and had no spelling checker. Often an outline would be transferred to the word processor, and more resifting and rearranging would be desired, but by that time, after transferring, it had lost its outline structure and could not be reworked.(6)
Grandview allows more freedom to make those changes, and in fact promotes itself as a perfectly adequate word processor.
I would dispute that characteristic. In generating briefs, GrandView can bring you almost to the last revision before transferring to your regular word processor, such as WordPerfect.(7)
However, the program does not easily export to word processors, and though it can do a better job than other outline programs, several steps are involved. However, some utility programs are available which help transfer Grandview files to those of, for example, WordPerfect.
Law Office Applications for GrandView
GrandView is useful wherever an outline program is useful. But GrandView goes further than the outlining program. Grandview permits one to get closer to the final draft of a document, while retaining the flexibility and the insight to view information readily.
Thus, information can be readily collected for a brief in one location. The information can be sifted by ideas where major case citations are tied to idea categories. The idea categories can be shuffled to create an organized approach. The idea headlines can then be expanded in the form of a document by pressing the F5 key, while shielding your vision from the distraction of other entries in the outline.
In writing a contract, the various issues to cover can be set out in an outline form and again shuffled and prioritized and put in an appropriate hierarchy. Particular clauses can be separately developed in the document view. Ideas can be cross linked to various headlines through the category view. People can also be appropriately linked in the category view. As an elaborate to do list generator, the category view is ideal for creating dates, priority and people categories.
The distributor of GrandView, Symantic Corproation, is a relatively large company which has a number of different popular software packages (Q & A, Timeline). What is also curious is that Symantec now also owns the rights to two other outlining programs, Ready and Thinktank, and the program Grandview was said to be authored by John Friend, who is the writer of PC-Outline. The result is that there are many similarities between PC-Outline and Grandview.
Grandview category assignment features have some similarities to Agenda. Grandview assigns categories of your choice, such as legal issues, priorities, dates, people or case citations. You type in "headlines" which are the entries in an outline. Where certain key words which are established are typed, they are set up in a particular category. Thus, unlike databases which require a structure before entering information, or textbase programs which essentially lack structure, this type of a program creates structure as information is added.
IZE (pronounced "eyes") is probably the most unique of the PIM software previously discussed. There is an outlining feature, and in some ways it is creatable by the user. However, IZE is used more to find structure in an existing group of "texts". The "texts" may be briefs, letters, notes, deposition transcripts or cases imported from Westlaw or LEXIS. For example, suppose you have a number of different briefs on a wide variety of subjects. IZE allows you to establish key words readily. In a brief on evidence, you might want to have as key words, evidence, burden, proof, preponderance, clear and convincing. When the cursor is anywhere in the middle of one of these words in a text, pressing the keyword key adds these as a key word to the textbase.
The unique feature of IZE is then to take all the "texts" in what they call a "textbase", and from the number of occurrences of the key words in the various texts which make up the textbase, generate its own outline without human input. Thus, if a keyword appears many times in various texts, the outline is more likely to have the word as main headline of the outline, and lesser used words as a lower or subheadline of the outline. The outline then is used, not to simply show structure in the overall textbase, but to allow you to quickly find information related to the particular idea which has been indexed in the outline.
IZE then allows you to move by cursor from a location of the outline indexing the key words to various texts themselves. It is similar to looking at an index of a book, pointing to the keyword or subject for which information is desired, and electronically turning to the pages referenced by the index. The texts can have actually been imported into the program in a special format, or they can even remain in many different word processing formats, such as Wordperfect, Word, MultiMate or Wordstar. IZE will then automatically load the word processing program and retrieve the text where the references occur.
As a practical matter, there are some rather important considerations which must be reviewed before deciding to use IZE. A substantial amount of hard disk storage is required to support a meaningful brief bank, though its use in working with a letter bank, or perhaps work for a particular client will not require much storage. A computer with a large hard disk is required. This is a program that has great potential in the future. For example, with the storage capabilities available on CD ROM and variations of this type of storage, large quantities of storage will become available at a reasonable price in a convenient format. IZE can then be used to create significant structure on ones work product.
Another use of the program might be in connection with the use of a scanner. Information from various sources might be input via a scanner and added as separate "texts". Key pages from deposition transcripts might be scanned.(8)
Alternatively, ASCII(9) disks of deposition transcripts might be added, and the pages or the entire deposition might be used as a separate text base in connection with a particular case.
The ability to control the structuring of the outline created is also possible. The program is well documented and fairly simple to use. A primary complaint is that IZE unnecessarily beeps at you when wrong keys are hit.
PIM's can and are usable directly by the lawyer in a law office. The key is to understand what are the needs of the office before deciding to purchase a PIM program. Once that decision has been made, plan to commit a reasonable amount of time to learn and use the program. If the programs are used, they all can greatly benefit the law practice.
1. PC Outline is simple to use and can be learned in an afternoon. This program is a "shareware" program. A copy can be obtained through computer user groups or through advertisements in most computer publications available at the local newstand. A trial copy will cost about $5. If you like it, there is an honor system by which you are to send it a donation to its author. It is currently distributed by Brown Bag Software, Inc., 2155 So. Bascom Avenue, Suite 114, Campbell, CA 95008, 408-559-4545. A new version, PC-Outline Plus has just been released.
2. MaxThink came along at about the same time as Thinktank and PC-Outline. My original thought is that MaxThink is an outliner. However, it has actually more philosophy built into it rather than simply outlining. The author's premise is that structure of writing is based on certain defined concepts of what is required to communicate knowledge most easily. Key features of MaxThink include the ability to sort information into "bins" after it has been generated and to readily prioritize items.
MaxThink comes with an interesting philosophy. The author lists ways of tackling and thinking about a project; thus MaxThink comes with a list of 55 ways of approaching a problem and thinking of how to best organize material. For example, #29 suggests to exaggerate a subject area to test whether the statement exceeds information. That has a familiar ring to those who are used to developing cross-examination. The author has several additional programs as an extension of his philosophy in the realm of hypertext.
3. Macros are shorthand ways of entering information or commands on a computer. Rather than entering twenty keystrokes, a macro may allow you to do the same in three.
4. Agenda allows attachment of "notes" to specific "items". Items hold a limited amount of information. To do otherwise would be cumbersome. However, lengthy "notes" can be attached to each item.
5. e.g. if Smith and Jones, but not Jackson appear in an item entry, assign "high" to the "priority" category associated with that item.
6. There is now a new version of PC-Outline, PC-Outline plus, available from Brown Bag Software at $195, still a shareware program. It is said to include both a speller and synonym finder.
7. The outline can be exported to an ASCII file in which underlining or bold features are lost. The text must then be retrieved by the Text In command in WordPerfect. One problem is that hard carriage returns make editing difficult.
8. Scanning is a process whereby text is passed through an OCR (optical character reader) providing digitized information. A OCR software program translates the digitized information representing the typed or printed page so that it can be read by a word processing program.
9. ASCII is a form of digital information which can be universally read by most computer programs and word processing programs. It generally can communicate textual information, but usually lacks special codes which provide such features as underlining, boldfacing, centering and special margins.