Having a scanner in the office simplifies record keeping, but with so many types of scanners available, you'll need to pick which model best fits your needs. Flatbed scanners and production scanners offer versatility but take up a large space. Handheld scanners allow scanning any size item with just a compact device, but produce low quality images. Sheetfed scanners scan from loose papers, making them ideal for digitizing stacks of records, receipts or business cards.

Flatbed Scanners

The most common type of scanner, flatbed scanners have a large glass surface and a lid. These scanners work best with flat objects, such as photos and papers, but you can also place larger items such as open books onto the scanner bed. Some models of flatbed scanner come built in to all-in-one devices, which function as printers, scanners, copy machines and fax machines.

Production Scanners

Production scanners operate similarly to flatbed scanners, but offer far faster operation and the durability to last through high-volume work. These machines also feature a feed device for scanning multiple documents quickly. Unlike regular flatbed scanners, which are often priced at the consumer level, production scanners sell for thousands of dollars and are targeted to publishing companies and other businesses that need to scan numerous documents daily.

Hand Scanners

Hand scanners or handheld scanners are small wand-shaped devices. You use a hand scanner by slowly dragging it over the entire surface area of the document you want to scan. Unlike flatbed scanners, hand scanners allow you to scan items of any size. Because they rely on a steady hand and due to their small size, however, they often offer lower quality output than a flatbed.

Sheetfed Scanner

Sheetfed scanners scan loose papers placed in a tray by pulling them across a static scanning lens. These devices make it easier to scan a large stack of papers than a flatbed scanner, where you would have to insert and remove each page. Due to their design, however, they won't work to scan books or large papers that don't fit in the tray. Some sheetfed scanners feature additional trays designed for smaller items such as business cards.