There must be a solution for terrible handwriting.

It would be great if our scribbled notes were instantly transcribed into readable text. Worry not, associates-frantically-deciphering-handwritten-partner-instructions. As New Orleans attorney Jeff Richardson reports, there’s now a handwriting recognition app for the iPad.

Here’s more information about Notes Plus 3.0 ($6.99), which converts handwriting into text.

Over the holidays, a reader who works in a hospital setting asked:

Do you know any apps that allow you to handwrite a note and then convert it to a typed document. Per your suggestions, I have Notability, but that seems to only save it as handwritten. — Christina, Ohio.

Notes Plus 3.0 ($6.99) now provides optical character recognition of handwritten notes. As Jeff Richardson describes:

When you draw a circle around something in Notes Plus, the app selects whatever it is that you have circled, gives it an outline appearance so you understand what was selected and what was not selected, and then gives you the option to do something with the selected writing such as copy it, delete it, or recognize the handwriting.

The handwriting recognition software was developed by VisionObjects, a company that has previously worked with Livescribe Echo Smartpens.

Amazingly, the feature works flawlessly according to Jeff:

Once the purchase is made, the handwriting recognition works very well.  In my tests it was often perfect and otherwise darn close.

After returning home from several depositions today, I was reminded by the volume of paper generated by our profession. It is simply astounding the forms, documents and other notes we create (for good reason) when preparing a case for trial.

During the course of several hours, I generated nearly twenty pages of handwritten notes on my iPad with Notability. It would be very helpful if my writing we instantly transcribed to text so that I can more readily prepare deposition summary memos. This is a useful app whether you are an immigration lawyer in Roanoke Virginia, a Virginia expungement lawyer, a non-compete lawyer in Virginia, or any other practice.

Hopefully, other handwriting apps will add handwriting recognition to future updates. A miscommunication hurriedly scribbled on a legal pad costs time, and converting handwriting to text on the iPad would be a welcome development.


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About The Author

Rob Dean

Rob Dean is an lawyer in Roanoke, Virginia, where he concentrates his practice on employment law and personal injury litigation. For help using the iPad at work, email him at

3 Responses to Q&A: Converting Handwritten Notes into Text with OCR

  1. John Tarley says:

    I think note taking apps are second only to things to do apps on my iPad. I bought Notes + last year and liked it, but then started using Notability for, in my opinion, easier interface. However, after reading this post, I went back to Notes +, opened up a previous note, circled the handwriting and voila! The handwriting was converted to text. With my slopping handwriting, it still was over 90% accurate. I’m going to try to be neater in my writing to see what effect that has.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Just curious, once you do the OCR on text, when you export your hand written notes to PDF, does the OCR go with it?

    • Rob Dean says:

      My understanding is that the OCR text is embedded in the .pdf document, so once you perform the OCR function, everything travels together during export. Let me know how it goes.

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