Creating Text-Based PDFs

A variety of accessible formats of text options are available to students with disabilities, including audio, large print, and braille. Most students at CC who are approved for this accommodation use text-to-speech software to create an audio version of the text materials. To do this, students need access to PDF documents that are text-based rather than image-based. Individual words and letters can be highlighted on a text-based document. Image-based text appears as a square block when the text is highlighted. Faculty can help to support an inclusive academic experience by providing students with text-based PDFs that offer immediate access to course materials for all students. Accessible PDFs can be created easily by scanning documents on one of the college’s Xerox brand copier/scanners or by using Read&Write software. Instructions for both are provided below.

What is a high-quality scanned PDF? 

  • The text is not cut off.
  • The pages are straight, not crooked or curved.
  • No shadows are covering the print.
  • Handwriting, highlighting, annotations, circles, or underlining is limited and do not cover any text.
  • There is good color contrast throughout the page.
  • The scan is clear with no blurry text.

Tips & Tricks

  • When scanning a book with a spine, push the spine of the book down while scanning to ensure the text will copy clearly.
  • Scan one page at a time, and do not combine pages. This improves reading on mobile platforms and speeds up the conversion process for optical character recognition (OCR) software.
  • Avoid scanned documents that need to be rotated when viewed on a screen.
  • Document names should correspond to how documents are named on the syllabus and in Canvas.

Xerox brand machines on campus should automatically create a text-based format when selecting the "scan to email" option. Advanced setting options allow manual adjustments if the quality of the original scan is not optimal.

  • “Image Options” allows the user to adjust the light/dark contrast & sharpness.
  • Selecting a higher “Quality/File Size” will create a larger file.              
  • Avoid the “Book Scanning Option” as this will scan two pages at a time.
  • “Resolution” should be set to 300 dots per inch (DPI) or higher.
  • Use black & white or 24-bit coloring.

Example of a high-quality scan: This example shows a high quality scan from a page in a book that is clear and easy to read

There are two images showing examples of a scan that is too faded and the contrast is too light

The text is faded and the contrast is very light in both examples.


The image shows an example of a scanned page from a book with a black margin that blocks out any text making it impossible to read

This scan has a darkened margin and shadows the text making it illegible. 

The image shows a scan of a book with two pages, but one page is cut off.

Part of a cut-off page has been included in the scan which can slow down the conversion process.

This image shows a scanned book with a crooked page, making it difficult to use text-to-speech software

The page is crooked.

This image shows a scanned page from a book with lots of handwritten underlines and notes making it hard to read the text

There is too much underlining and it goes over some of the text.

This image shows a scanned book with 2 pages side-by-side and rotated 90%

The scan has 2 side-by-side pages and is rotated.


Read&Write is a software program that provides tools to assist with reading and writing. It has many features, including an optical character recognition tool to convert image-based documents to text-based documents. The scan feature in Read&Write works best to convert documents that are shorter and scanned clearly. Anyone with a Colorado College email address can download this software at no cost. 

Below are the links to instructions on how to install and use Read&Write. Please reach out to if we can assist you in any way.

Read&Write Install Instructions

Read&Write Toolbar Instructions

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Report an issue - Last updated: 08/16/2022