If you don't have a scanner readily available, CamScanner is an excellent free app that will let you create a clear PDF file using your phone. It's available for both Apple and Android products-- here's a download link. Despite having a fantastic dedicated scanner myself (ScanSnap, if you're looking to invest in one), I often use CamScanner for personal purposes because it's so convenient. Scans are also full color, so I've used it to scan my passport, driver license, etc.
CamScanner is very easy and intuitive to use, but here's a step-by-step tutorial if you need a little handholding.
- Download CamScanner to your phone. I use an (old) iPhone, so my screenshots will be on that platform, but I trust the Android app is similar. Here it is on the App Store.
- When you open the app, there should be a camera button on the bottom of the screen. Tap that.
- Right over the camera, there are some choices-- I'm showing you how to make a single page scan here so make sure that's the one selected in green. The "Batch" option will let you scan multiple pages into one file, which is helpful too. For our purposes, it's just as easy (probably easier) if you send multiple files, so if you don't want to experiment with Batch, that's ok-- leave it on single and just repeat this process as needed. Make sure you're in a decently lighted spot and snap a picture. Make sure you have the whole page and don't worry about having extra stuff in the margins or framing your picture perfectly-- you will fix that in the next step.
- When you take the picture, CamScanner will automatically guess at where the edges of your document are. If it guessed right (as in this picture), cool-- leave it as is. If not, pull each of the circles to the corners or edges of your document. This is neat, because even if you took the pic at a little bit of an angle, the app will straighten it out for you. If your picture is just super wonky and you can't get the edges right, go back and take a new one-- sometimes that's easier. When the document is accurately outlined, tap the check mark in the bottom right corner.
- On the next screen, you can choose a filter. I usually like the auto filter-- on this image, it looks great. Every now and then, it will be too bright and I have to fiddle with it, which you could do with the adjustment button next to the check mark in the corner. Or just pick a different filter that looks better to you. When it looks good, tap the check mark.
- On this screen, you can rename your document by tapping on the "new doc..." title at the top. You don't have to, but you can.
- Like this! Then click Done.
- Now you're ready to send me your file. I personally use the Share option at the bottom, because I like to keep a copy of all of my documents on a cloud drive.
- Be sure to select PDF file (you may not have those top two options-- don't worry about it).
- You'll have different options on this screen, depending on what systems you're using on your phone. I personally use OneDrive, but Google Drive and Dropbox are other popular option here. Whatever you select, it will open the app and let you save your new PDF file to the cloud. Then you can access it there when you need to email it to me, just like you would any other file.
- If you don't want to use a cloud drive, Email is another option, if you use the email client on your phone (I do not use Apple mail, so this option does not work for me).
- Again, please choose the PDF option.
This app is super simple-- don't be fooled by my wordy instructions. It takes about a minute to create a nice quality scan that makes our judges much happier than a shaky phone pic.