The 11 Types of Scanners Every Pro Needs To Know - Top Scanner Categories and Products for Professionals

Scanner Guide

The 11 Types of Scanners Every Pro Needs to Know

Learn more about key scanner types for professional settings and which may be right for you.


Keeping pace in the professional world means having all the right data when and where you need it. As businesses move further into the cloud, it’s become more important to have document digitization tools you can rely on to connect your work on paper with your business online.

But how do you know which of the many types of specialized scanners will be right for your business? This guide will help you become familiar with the 11 types of scanners best suited for professionals across industries and office sizes. It will also bring you up to speed on key features to keep in mind for each kind of scanner and leave you with one handy, recommended product to get started across each category.

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Desktop scanners: Find the right fit for your workspace

Choose a desktop scanner if...

  • You want an affordable option
  • You want a compact size suited to individual workspaces
  • You still want high-performance scanning

Desktop scanners are built to fit seamlessly into all types of common working spaces, rather than cluttering them. They offer utility and versatility in a compact footprint and are well suited for use by individuals or small teams.

ScanSnap® iX1600

Designed for everyday use, the ScanSnap® iX1600 gets documents digitized, organized and sent anywhere—anytime—with minimal effort.

Features to look for in desktop scanners

Document feeder

For scanning larger batches, an automated document feeder (ADF) is ideal. However, a secondary manual feed option is also handy for digitizing thicker documents such as ID cards or pamphlets.

Fast, uninterrupted scans

Look for a desktop scanner that can digitize anywhere from 40 to 80 pages per minute, depending on your needs, with reliable hardware that requires minimal human intervention.

Multi-feed sheet detection

Multi-feed errors result when an automated document feeder erroneously pulls in two sheets at once, potentially spoiling the scan or damaging the document. An effective scanner should use sensors to prevent these problems.

Document scanning software

Bundled software should make naming, sorting, and storing digitized documents just as quick and easy as scanning them in the first place.

Did You Know? If you’re looking for a wireless scanning solution, your choices have never been better. Learn More.

Flatbed scanners: Find the best versatility and precision

Choose a flatbed scanner if…

  • You need to scan fragile or bound materials
  • You want a versatile digitization device
  • Speedy processing is a secondary concern

Flatbed scanners were the norm for many years, and their flexible scanning capabilities still make them a great choice for many applications. You can even get the best of both worlds with scanners that combine automated document feeding with flatbed hardware.


Made for demanding workflows, the fi-8270 employs innovative feeding and Clear Image Capture technology to deliver industry-leading reliability. The flatbed provides even more utility, making it possible to scan very thick documents and bound periodicals.

Features to look for in flatbed scanners

Scan resolution

Image quality is a foremost concern for all types of scanners, but it’s especially important for digitizing old or fragile documents which may have faded print.

Color quality

While monochrome scans are fine for most business documents, good color quality is essential for accurately digitizing documents such as magazines.

Size of the flatbed

Depending on the type of documents you need to scan, a standard letter-sized flatbed may suffice, but larger models can offer more versatile scanning options.

Automated document feeder

A flatbed scanner with an attached ADF allows you to quickly work through stacks of documents that don’t require the precision or flexibility of a flatbed.

Speed of flatbed

While flatbed scanning will always require a certain amount of manual intervention, picking a model capable of speedier scans will cut down on overall time investment.

Coverless scanning

Being able to run the scanner without its cover down allows you to scan large quantities of documents faster and also digitize the surfaces of more irregularly shaped objects.

Read more about flatbed scanners in our blog post, Choosing a Flatbed Scanner: What Features Matter Most?

Legal Size Scanners: Great results for specialized documents

Choose a legal size scanner if…

  • Your business regularly uses documents longer than the standard letter format
  • You want extra flexibility in the types of documents you can digitize at speed

Legal size scanners support documents measuring 8.5 inches wide by 14 inches high. This is a common size for writing pads and other paper intended for legal use, as well as any other profession that uses long documents.


Made for demanding workflows, the compact fi-8170 employs innovative feeding technologies and proprietary Clear Image Capture (CIC) technology to deliver industry-leading reliability.

Features to look for in legal size scanners

Easy paper feeding

The extra length of legal-size paper means you should look for a scanner with additional support on its feeding chute, to prevent pages from falling out of place while processing.

Batch and volume scanning

The papers may be larger, but that doesn’t mean there’s any fewer of them: look for a scanner that can effectively process large numbers of documents in a single batch.

Clear image quality

Legible text and accurate capture can make the difference between a legal document being useful or useless, so clear scans of relatively high resolution are essential.

Document Protection

It’s essential to keep legal documents in good condition both before and after digitization, and built-in jam detecting features can head off issues before problems arise.

Did You Know? The fi-8000 series of scanners offers new levels of image clarity and OCR accuracy via Clear Image Capture. Click here to learn more.

Read more about legal size scanners in our blog post, Legal Size Scanners: What to Know Before You Buy.

Sheetfed Document Scanners: Tackle high volumes daily

Choose a sheetfed scanner if…

  • You need to process large quantities of documents at a time
  • You want to free up employees to focus on other tasks as the digitization process continues

Sheetfed document scanners are also known as automatic document feed (ADF) scanners. These document digitization devices are purpose-built for digitizing up to hundreds of documents in a single batch, and tens of thousands in a day.


With a large, 300-page hopper and advanced engineering, the fi-7600 is a popular mid-office scanner can handle wide and normal-size documents at high speeds.

Features to look for in sheetfed document scanners

Speed and batch size

The most essential metric for any sheetfed scanner is how many pages it can work through in a day — after that, larger batch sizes mean less human intervention is required.

Image quality

Speed and time efficiency is only worthwhile if the end result meets your needs. A sheetfed document scanner should reliably produce accurate, clear scans for every single page.


As a device with numerous moving parts that may operate for hours at a time, reliability and durability are also essential concerns. Look for devices with strong urethane rollers and easily replaceable consumable parts.

Did You Know? The fi-8170 has a color LCD panel for easy operation from the front of the scanner.  Learn More.

Read more about sheetfed document scanners in our dedicated article.  Sheetfed Document Scanners: How to Find the Model That Moves at the Speed of Your Business. 

Printer Scanners: Weigh the pros and cons of all-in-one

Choose a printer scanner if…

  • You only infrequently need to print or scan documents
  • You want to save space or money
  • You don’t already own a printer or scanner

If you’re looking to both print and scan documents but don’t have the space or budget for dedicated hardware, you may wish to consider an integrated printer scanner. However, there are some potential drawbacks to keep in mind.

Pros and Cons of all-in-one printer scanners

Pro - Convenience

There’s no doubt that it’s easier to fit a single device into a working environment that may already be crowded, and it’s also one less device to keep synced with your productivity setup.

Con - Quality

Being jacks-of-all-trades, printer scanners typically lack the quality and feature sets present in dedicated scanners — if you scan documents regularly, it may not be worth the tradeoff.

11x17 Scanners: Find the ideal large format scanner

Choose an 11x17 scanner if…

  • Your business regularly needs to process letter or ledger sized documents
  • You want more versatility in the sizes of documents a single scanner can tackle

Not every important document is letter-sized, or even legal-sized. If your business will regularly need to digitize documents up to ANSI B (double letter 11x17 inches) in size, it needs a scanner that’s up to the task.


With a large, 300-page hopper and advanced engineering, the fi-7700 is a popular mid-office scanner can handle wide and normal-size documents at high speeds. The fast, double-letter size flatbed can capture large, delicate, and bound documents.

Features to look for in 11x17 scanners

Fast feeding and orderly stacking

Larger documents can be a headache to keep in order. Your scanner should help, not aggravate, this issue by feeding in documents reliably and stacking them up when it’s done.

Versatile and high-res scanning

Larger documents tend to vary in more dimensions than just width and height. A manual scan mode should allow for easily scanning a range of document types, making the most of that greater size.

Duplex scanning

Your scanner should be able to process both sides of a document at once, whether it’s letter sized or double letter or anything in between.

Paper protection features

It’s essential to keep your documents in good condition both before and after digitization, and built-in jam detecting features can head off issues before problems arise.

Compact footprint

Naturally, an 11x17 scanner will be bigger than a counterpart made for letter sheets. However, practical design considerations can minimize this impact on your office space.

Fast maintenance

As a versatile piece of office equipment, your 11x17 scanner will likely see a lot of use. Consumable parts should be easy to replace to make sure any downtime is minimized.

Duplex Scanners: Digitize both sides at once

Choose a duplex scanner if…

  • You need to digitize double-sided documents
  • You want to eliminate time spent flipping pages in the middle of a scan

Business documents often have printing on both sides which introduces some extra logistical concerns. A duplex scanner skips the hassle by digitizing both sides of a document at once, speeding up your process and making sure nothing is missed.


Made for demanding workflows, the compact fi-8170 employs innovative feeding technologies and proprietary Clear Image Capture (CIC) technology to deliver industry-leading reliability.

How to choose the best duplex scanner

Types of documents

If you need to scan irregularly shaped, two-sided documents such as ID cards, passports, and brochures, make sure your scanner supports an adaptable manual mode.

Daily volume

For settings where you may need to scan hundreds or even thousands of pages in a day, prioritize a duplex scan with an automated document feeder to speed up the process.


Your duplex scanner should fit in with your working space, so make sure you start by measuring where you intend to place it then compare that to the manufacturer’s specifications.

Large-Format Scanners: Digitize your oversized documents

Choose a large format scanner if...

  • You frequently need to scan documents larger than the standard letter size
  • You want more flexibility and versatility in what kinds of documents you can digitize

If you need to digitize documents that regularly exceed the dimensions of letter sized paper, you need a large-format scanner. These devices are purpose built to scan newspapers, blueprints, maps, and any number of other large, detailed documents.


With a large, 300-page hopper and advanced engineering, the fi-7700 is a popular mid-office scanner can handle wide and normal-size documents at high speeds. The fast, double-letter size flatbed can capture large, delicate, and bound documents.

How to choose a large-format scanner

 Document size standards

Make sure your scanner supports the size of documents frequently used by your business — the American National Standards Institute maintains a list of document sizes which will be helpful here.

Space requirements

By their nature, large-format scanners will take up more space than scanners made for smaller documents. Make sure you choose a model that fits in your workspace.

Flatbed or ADF capabilities

If you need to scan unique and potentially fragile documents, you’ll likely be best served by a flatbed scanner. Otherwise, an automated document feeder will speed up your workflow.

Read more about large-format scanners in Choosing a Large Format Scanner: How to Handle Oversized Document Imaging.

Receipt Scanners: Digitize and track your expenses

Choose a receipt scanner if...

  • You need to track expenses digitally
  • You want fast and efficient record keeping
  • You also need to scan a mix of document types

Receipt scanners are an essential tool for businesses that want to keep centralized and efficient expenditure records, whether their employees work from an office or remotely. They include special features to handle the range of shapes and paper quality represented across receipts.

ScanSnap® iX1400

The ScanSnap® iX1400 provides a hassle-free experience with one-touch scanning and fast, reliable performance day after day.

Features to look for in receipt scanners

High-res scanning made for receipts

Receipts are often made with thermal paper or other thin paper, and they don’t have a single standardized size. Your scanner should be well equipped to handle any kind of receipt in its normal workload.

Speed and versatility

Adjustable guides allow scanners to handle a range of receipt sizes along with standard documents, leading to a more efficient workflow.

Helpful software

Digitizing a receipt is just half the battle: you also need to categorize and store the records, and a useful scanner should come with software that makes this second half of the task just as quick and easy as the first.

Read more about receipt scanners in Receipt Scanners: Make Expense Tracking a Cinch.

ID Card Scanners and Insurance Card Scanners: Digitize small but essential documents

Features of the best ID card and insurance card scanners 

  • Speed, to keep queues moving fast
  • Reliability, to cut down on troublesome mis-scans

Identification cards are essential in the modern day world, whether they are proof of identity or provide insurance billing information. The smaller and thicker dimensions of these cards necessitate some special consideration before scanner purchase.


With its ultra-compact footprint and versatility, this scanner saves valuable desktop space and makes it easy to scan a variety of documents, including envelopes, passports, and IDs, all without a carrier sheet.

How to choose ID card and insurance card scanners

Form factor

Given the booths and windows many ID card and insurance card scanners will likely be used in, it’s important to keep a compact and ergonomic form factor in mind.

Scanning software

Included scanning software should make it easy to sort and even extract relevant text from cards, cutting down on time spent organizing and transcribing.

Document versatility

If ID cards aren’t the only form of document you need to digitize, choose a scanner that offers ADF for batch scanning and a manual mode for digitizing thicker documents.

Shop Scanners Now

Digital imaging solutions built with your business in mind.

Shop Now
For even more professional-ready digitization solutions, be sure to check out our entire range of scanners.