November 12, 2013 by Mitch Taube Categories: Document Scanning

In all of our years of scanning, one of the most difficult types of paper to scan that we’ve encountered is onionskin—a thin, almost translucent form of cotton that looks and feels a bit like the skin of an onion. Because of its lightweight yet surprisingly durable construction, onionskin was commonly used in the past for carbon copies, airmail letters and archiving when a large volume of paper became unwieldy.

Onionskin documents can be very difficult to scan properly to ensure a high quality image because of its delicate nature, especially when mixed in with other paper types like standard copy paper. Regardless, some people need them scanned as part of a larger batch of documents, and some even want to retain their original look particularly when they are historic documents. So, what’s the best way to scan onionskin?

Onionskin Scanners & Paper Handling

Only professional-grade scanners that excel in paper handling can scan onionskin documents without damaging them, especially when scanned intermingled with other paper types. Onionskin can easily become jammed in a lesser quality scanner, which leads to tearing, sometimes an “accordion” effect, and non-repairable damage to the paper.

Onionskin Experience Matters

Onionskin documents are relatively uncommon, so it makes the most sense to send your onionskin scanning projects to a document scanning company. Not all scanning companies can handle this delicate form of paper and output a quality image while retaining the historic look of the document. To find one who can, you’ll want to make sure they:

  • Use professional-grade scanners that excel in handling different types, sizes and weights of paper
  • Have onionskin scanning experience and a direct line to the scanner and scanning software vendor in case specialized support is needed
  • Can scan onionskin in color if you want to maintain each document’s original look
  • Ensure image quality and legibility is optimized with software and quality checks

No More Tears

A document scanning company that is experienced working with onionskin that is intermingled with other types of paper can usually handle just about any type of paper or document, as it’s one of the most challenging scanning projects. Just make sure you find one that has actually done this type of scanning so you can rest assured the image quality matches your expectations.