• A volunteer scans a book into a computer using a scanner that runs optical character recognition software (OCR) to convert the scan into a Rich Text Format (RTF) digital file.  A first review of the book determines whether the scan has successfully included all pages and established proper recognition of page breaks and chapters.  The book is then submitted for proofreading.
  • Some scanners come with OCR software built in. If your scanner does not include OCR software, you will need to buy the software and install it on your computer.
  • Using OCR software is important because it allows us to offer text-to-speech reading for our members. Based on the analysis of sequential lines and curves, OCR makes 'best guesses' at characters using database look-up tables to closely associate or match the strings of characters that form words. Naturally, this is not always perfect and similar looking letters or groups of letters can get mixed up (such as d and cl). This is why it helps to check your scans as they go and fix basic errors. This is also why we have a different person proofread the scan after it has been submitted.


How to Scan:


1. First, make sure that the book is not already in our collection. For more details about this, please see our FAQs page. If the book is in the collection but not in excellent condition, you may submit a better scan—a BSO—or “Better Scan Of.” If you wish to do this, please indicate that it is a BSO by adding “BSO” in front of the title before submitting the scan.

2. Make sure you take into account all details below (copyright info, page numbers, etc.) when selecting your book.

3. Check your scanner or OCR software settings to ensure that they are set to preserve page breaks and paragraph breaks. Please note that we do not want to preserve line breaks, so uncheck that option.

4. Check your work as you go to make sure that words and letters are scanning correctly, pages aren’t all bolded or italicized (this can happen from shifting during scanning or pressing too hard), and that page and paragraph breaks are preserved. Once you’ve completed scanning the book, do a quick, initial proof of the book (including the title page) to check that no pages are missing, there aren’t lines or sentences of garbled text, and that any other large, obvious errors that would be difficult for a proofreader without the actual text are fixed.

5. Once you have scanned the entire book, completed each item on the Scanning Checklist below, and saved it in RTF format, go to the Volunteer Home page on and click the “Submit a Book” tab on the left.

6. Select the file from your computer and upload it. Make sure the book is in one file!

7. Set the language to the book’s main language (generally, this will be English US).

8. Fill in the ISBN and any fields that have not been auto-filled.

9. Categorize the book as best you can, choosing no more than four categories.

10. In the “Comments” box, please provide your email address for the proofreader. Should the proofreader have any questions, he or she can contact you, which can potentially save a book from rejection.

11. Your scan should now appear on the “Checkout a Book” page—you’ve successfully scanned a book!


The Details:


  • Click here to check out the Scanning and Proofreading Manual.
  • All scans must contain complete copyright information, including the copyright holder and copyright date, even if the book is in the public domain. Copyright law does not permit Bookshare® to distribute copyrighted dramatic literary works (plays or screenplays). However, Bookshare can accept dramatic works which are no longer copyrighted (although you must be able to prove that they are in the Public Domain).
  • Bookshare cannot accept any materials that are proprietary, or that were obtained in breach of any contract, or illegally (this includes accessible digital books received by schools directly from a publisher and digital books from other accessible book providers, such as an RFB&D digital book, or a Library of Congress (NLS) Web-Braille book).
  • Bookshare cannot accept commercially available e-books (even legally-purchased ones) due to agreements with publishers. Bookshare is also not authorized to distribute standardized, secure, or norm-referenced tests and related testing material.  Similarly, Bookshare cannot accept teachers editions of textbooks.
  • Bookshare does not accept books which are already in the library, unless the new copy is of higher quality than the copy already available for download.
  • Scans should be kept as close to the original as possible. This includes keeping italics, bolding, paragraph breaks, and page breaks identical to the print copy to preserve the author's intent. Additionally be sure to keep the text on the page on which it was originally printed.
  • Books without page breaks are not accepted. Please make sure that your scanner settings are set to preserve page breaks.
  • Scans of books should also contain the same pagination as the original books.  In classrooms, neither teachers nor pupils with print disabilities should need to worry that their copy of a book has a different set of page numbers.  Correct pagination will also facilitate reader discussions, searches, and indexing. Page numbers are not required for books that do not have page numbers in the original text, which often is the case with children's books, for example. 
  • For practical and legal reasons, Bookshare does not accept books that are not complete.
  • In order to best allow for all types of navigation (such as in DAISY), the font size and bolding should follow the table below:

         20 point + BOLDING = Book title

         18 point + BOLDING = Larger section headings (such as "Part I", or "Section 2") 

         16 point + BOLDING = Headings for each section in the Front Matter, & Back Matter 

         16 point + BOLDING = Chapter headings

         14 point + BOLDING = Chapter subheadings

         12 point                    = Text in the body of the book


Scanning Checklist:


A.  The file contains the title page, with the book title and the author's name.

B.  The file contains the copyright page (or if not, indicates that it is freely distributable, e.g. public domain or Creative Commons licensed).

C.  The file has no missing pages and no duplicate pages.

D.  Missing or garbled text has been replaced with the correct sentences or words from the original text.

E.  The file has page breaks or section breaks that correspond to the original (1 per page).

F.  The file is in the format:  RTF.

G.  The entire book is submitted in one file.


Some volunteers scan books, some volunteers proofread books, and some do both.  The choice is yours!  The only restriction is that you can't proofread a book that you have scanned.