How To Scan Legal Size Papers and Documents

Despite their longer length, legal size documents don’t have to be hard to scan.

Whether you truly use legal size paper for legal purposes or for record keeping, you may be left with the common question of how to scan legal size paper. Though it’s handy for storing as much info as possible on a single page, the extra length can present an additional hurdle if you typically only scan letter-sized documents.

This article will run down how to scan a legal size document, what types of scanners are best suited for the task, and the scanner we recommend for tackling legal size papers. Before we get into the specifics, let’s quickly define some common terms we’ll use throughout the rest of this article.

  • Legal size paper is defined as measuring 8.5” wide and 14” high.
  • Letter size paper is defined as measuring 8.5” wide and 11” high.

Now let’s get started digitizing your legal size documents.

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How to scan legal size paper with your current scanner

The answer to how to scan legal size paper is the same as how to scan a document from a printer to a computer in many cases. Many modern scanners are able to intelligently scan legal size documents just as quickly and easily as they can scan letter size documents, often requiring no more special input than a single press of a button. Since both types of documents are the same width, it only takes a little bit longer for the scanner to process the additional length.

If your scanner uses an automated document feeder, consult its manual to ensure that it can handle documents up to 14” in length (if you do not have the manual, check for the model number on a sticker on the rear of the device and punch it into your search engine of choice). If your scanner uses a flatbed, place the document on the flatbed and ensure that it fits on the glass digitizing surface without overlapping the edges.

In the event that your scanner does not natively support legal size documents, you still have some options. If you have a duplex scanner, your scanner software may include a function that allows you to fold a larger document in half, run it through the machine, and then automatically merge the images obtained from both sides. Even if you don’t have a duplex scanner, you could fold the document, manually scan both sides, then use free image editing software such as Paint.NET to reassemble the two images into one.

Did You Know? You don’t need to leave easy and effective scanning behind when you’re traveling. Check out our guide to portable document scanners to find the best model for you.

What to look for in a legal size paper scanner

Now that you know how to scan legal size paper, whether you have a scanner purpose-built for the task or not, here are some qualities that will give you the best possible experience the next time you’re shopping for a document digitization device.

Suitable maximum document size

The make-or-break feature for a legal size scanner is the maximum size of document it can process. You can reasonably expect any general-purpose scanner to tackle letter size documents, given their common usage, but you’ll want to find a scanner with a maximum document size of at least 14” long to ensure the same device can digitize legal size papers too.

High-quality scans

If you’re using legal paper for legal purposes, you know how essential it is for each letter and image to be reproduced perfectly. A blurry or distorted image could have a real impact on business proceedings, so make sure your scanner can handle scans the right way the first time, with an optical resolution of at least 300 dpi and included image-enhancing features.


You probably don’t only use legal size paper in your day-to-day business, and your scanner should have no problems keeping up with the rest of your documents. Look for a scanning device that can easily auto crop receipts, brochures, and business cards to keep your working hours spent on more important tasks.

Did You Know? We offer a full assortment of accessories and replaceable parts to make sure your scanner is functioning at its best for years to come. Click here to learn more

Our recommendation: ScanSnap iX1600

We know you have no shortage of options when it comes to choosing a home document scanner. We pride ourselves on having spent the last 50+ years designing and developing some of the most beloved electronics in the world, including our line of award-winning, easy to use, one touch ScanSnap scanners.

The ScanSnap iX1600 is, in our opinion, the best answer for those asking how to scan legal size paper. Its maximum document size is 8.5” by 14” in normal scan mode, while its manual scan mode can tackle anything up to 11” by 17” sheets. The iX1600’s optical 600 DPI rating ensures it can accurately digitize each letter and image, and its adjustable guides allow it to capture papers, cards, and more with ease and reliability. Those are just some of the many reasons we’re proud to call it the flagship of the ScanSnap family. Click here to learn more and shop the full line of ScanSnap scanners.