How to Scan and Submit Your Cards

Method #2, for Card Reading over Internet only

We no longer give free trials. Please see our Method 2 page for current procedures.

Before you commit to scanning all your cards, first scan just 5 cards and e-mail the TIFF images to us, as a trial run. We’ll convert them to text and e-mail the results to you, at no charge, so you can see how well they come out.

To avoid extra charges, please follow all instructions carefully.

Animation of punch cards being scanned   

Step 1: Scan Your Cards.

Required scanner settings:

  • black-and-white only (also called B/W, bi-level, line art) (not grayscale)
  • 100 dpi
  • TIFF with compression (G3 and G4 compression are best)

TIFF files prepared in this way should be no bigger than 20k bytes per card.
Our software does not read other image formats; if your scanner does not have these settings, you will have to use Method 1 instead.

Scan the cards with either (a) a black piece of paper behind them, or (b) in a dimly lit room with the scanner lid open, and then adjust your scanner’s brightness controls so that all holes scan as black rectangles.

Scan only the back side of each card, not the printed side (for better accuracy, our software reads cards from the back).
After scanning, your card(s) should look like this, and not like these bad examples.

Be sure to write your scanner settings down -- you will need them again later.

Step 2: Zip Your Cards.

Zip your cards and e-mail them together as a single attachment. A single compressed archive file (ZIP, .gzip, or .sit) is the preferred e-mail format.
Uncompressed images and e-mails containing multiple attachments will not be accepted.

Step 3: E-mail Your Cards.

NEW: The EASY way to ship us your punch cards

Write a short cover letter, asking for a "Card Reader Free Trial."
Attach the card images, and e-mail us:

Sample letter:

Dear Sir, 

I’ve attached a Zip/.Gzip/.sit file containing 1-5 punch cards. 

Could you please read the cards and tell me what they say, 
under the rules of your Card Reader Free Trial plan? 

I have a total of ____ cards to read (including these ones). 



We’ll prove that we can read the cards and send you the text.

Last-Minute Issues

After reading your Free Trial cards, we can discuss any special formatting issues that may need to be worked out before you spend time scanning or mailing all your cards. Then the paid work can begin.

Due to the variety of scanners available, we cannot provide step-by-step assistance.
If you are not an experienced scanner user, or if you cannot find your scanner manual, you should use Method 1 instead.


The purpose of the Free Trial Run is:

  1. to tweak your scanner settings to perfection before we commit to doing business;
  2. to find out if the customer can follow directions. (Customers who show symptoms of selective compliance will be required to submit their cards by mail.)

Please do not switch scanners or scanner settings after your Free Trial Run nor in the middle of your order.
If you disregard or alter any of the above instructions, or
if you switch scanners or settings for any reason, this could cause our software to stop reading your cards smoothly,
and you would need to re-do the Trial Run phase.
Additional Trial Runs are $2 each.
To avoid these extra charges, please follow all instructions carefully.


Copyright © 2005-2010  J. E. Brown   all rights reserved.

Card Reader Service for 80-Column IBM Punch Cards 

Los Alamos, NM USA