How to Scan Receipts: Keeping Your Financials in Order

Whether your expense report is due or tax time is around the corner, a good receipt scanner will help keep you on the right track.

A single receipt is more than just a flimsy piece of paper cluttering up your wallet, but for many people, receipts are critical documents at least once a year. Many accounting departments require receipts along with expense reports, for example. And come tax time, deductible expenses require proof in the form of, you guessed it, receipts. That’s why scanning receipts is so important; not only is it an excellent method of safeguarding the financial paper trail, it also makes it easier to crunch the numbers when the time comes. If you’re ready to learn how to scan receipts with the best tech tools out there, let’s get started.

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How to scan receipts: What’s the best way?

There are many ways to scan receipts these days. With nothing but your phone, you can snap a picture of each receipt you collect and sort through your camera roll later. Upgrading slightly, you can download a scanner app to your smartphone or tablet for quick scanning on the go. But the most reliable option when it comes to scanning receipts is to use a dedicated scanner device. Whether you opt for a stationary desk option you can keep in your workspace or choose a small, portable model you pull out when necessary, using a high-powered scanner will ensure you get accurate and high-quality scans that you can read clearly and process appropriately every single time.

What to look for in a receipt scanner

Here are the main components and features you should look for in a dedicated receipt scanner:

Paper size flexibility

Most scanners are built with a primary focus on letter-size sheets of paper, but don’t let that fool you. With the right functionality in place, your full-size scanner should still be able to recognize and scan small receipts like those from a convenience store and long receipts such as from a grocery store. Look for automatic document detection, which will ensure that your scanner adjusts appropriately to process the smaller (and often thinner) paper that receipts are printed on without jamming, skewing, or skipping pages.

Automatic feed capabilities

Unless you’re scanning receipts one at a time as you receive them or every day before you leave the office, chances are you’re staring down a large backlog of tiny slips of paper when it comes time to arrange your finances. Look for a scanner that offers automatic document feeding options or dual scan functionality; moving two or more receipts through your scanner at a time will significantly reduce the time you have to spend processing paperwork.

Did You Know? ScanSnap scanners specialize in versatility and ease-of-use at an affordable price. Click here to learn more.

Device connectivity

Your connectivity needs will largely depend on whether you use your receipt scanner at home, at the office, or while you’re on the road. You may prefer a device that can connect directly to your desktop computer, laptop, or mobile device over a Wi-Fi connection, or you may need a scanner that can act as its own access point if you can’t always count on having Wi-Fi access. Some scanners even offer direct-to-cloud scanning, meaning you don’t need a device at all to safely save a digital image of your receipts. Make sure to check that your receipt scanner has all the connectivity options that make the most sense for your setup.

Image quality

Because receipts are really about accounting and finances, it’s absolutely critical that the scanned version of each one is as crisp and legible as its hard copy. Using a high resolution scanner with text detection capabilities and automatic image enhancements will ensure that your receipt scans are perfectly legible and satisfactory for your accountant, bookkeeper, or boss (even if the boss is you).

Receipt scanning software

Receipts are one document type that make great use of scanning software capabilities. Look for software that can organize your scanned receipts and capture numerical information and classification data from each receipt in editable tables. Optical character recognition (OCR) will ensure that each number is accurate and precise, without missing a zero or misplacing a decimal point. Depending where in the world your receipts are from, you may also need a currency detection or conversion option to make sure you’re tracking and reporting your expenses in the correct amounts. And lastly, make sure your receipt scanning software gives you the option of exporting a spreadsheet as either a .JPG, .PDF, or .CSV file so you can crunch the numbers or submit your final figures wherever you need to.

Did You Know? PC Magazine described the ScanSnap iX100 as "an exceptional-value portable scanner." Click here to read the full review and learn why it earned an "excellent" 4 out of 5 rating.  

Our recommendation: ScanSnap iX100 and ScanSnap iX1600 Receipt Edition

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.

We recommend the ScanSnap iX100 for anyone who needs a reliable and easy way to scan receipts on the go. The ScanSnap iX100 is a completely wireless and dramatically compact scanner that you can easily stash away to scan receipts from anywhere. It’s battery powered and weighs less than a pound, making it perfectly portable, and dual scan capabilities allow you to work twice as fast by scanning receipts in pairs. The ScanSnap iX100 also comes with ScanSnap Receipt, a powerful suite of software that allows you to organize, split, and join receipt scans, capture, process, and edit numerical data, export information in CSV format, and so much more.  

For anyone prioritizing receipts first and foremost, we recommend the ScanSnap iX1600 Receipt Edition. The ScanSnap iX1600 Receipt Edition is optimized for those who use QuickBooks® Online in the home or the office and offers even more with exclusive Invoice and Receipt OCR processing features for the ultimate in productivity when scanning, not just the scanned file, but the important data they contain directly into an existing QuickBooks Online* account. With a dedicated Receipt Guide providing stability for irregular paper sizes, the iX1600 is a receipt scanning workhorse. Quickly scan up to 40 pages per minute with a 50-sheet Automatic Document Feeder and count on blemish-free images with Streak Reduction technology. The iX1600 also comes with the ScanSnap suite of scanning software so it’s easy and convenient to manage and organize everything scan-related straight from your device. Click here to learn more and shop the full line of ScanSnap scanners.