June 6, 2018 · Hot Tips

Quick fix for scanning letters or documents written on that translucent "onion skin" or thin tissue paper stationery

Do you remember "Air Mail," and those handwritten letters that were written on the thinnest, lightest paper possible, to save on postage costs?

Well, they were hard to read back then, and they are even harder to read with a scanner nowadays. Why? Because the sender usually wrote on both sides of the paper, so the ink on the back side bleeds through to the front.

I was digitizing a lot of old family correspondence and I ran into this problem a lot. Yes, I know some scanners have a setting that lets you ignore "bleed-through," but mine doesn't seem to have that feature. So a typical scanned letter looks like this:


Luckily there is a simple solution. All you need to do is find something black, like a sheet of black paper, a book with a black cover, a teflon oven liner, anything. I am using a black rubber mousepad on this example. Lay your document on the scanner then lay the black object on top of it. Ta da! The "front" text will be much easier to read.


Now that I think of it, it would work even better if the backing sheet was the exact same color as the pen ink, but not having any navy blue mousepads laying around, I haven't tested that theory.

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