Tech@Work: Hey, Look—No Paper!

8 ways to lose the clutter and keep your hands ink free

December 1, 1999

Computers have engendered so much more paperwork than existed before them that few remember the promise of the paperless office. But today’s technologies offer ways to reduce the paper that clutters your desk and files.

The paperless equation consists of two parts: inputting documents into your computer and then transmitting them.

PART I: Store it

1. You own a scanner, but have you explored the document management software that comes with it? Products like Visoneer's PaperPort Deluxelet you quickly scan, sort, and store documents to your hard drive.

I use this program to scan and store my business documents, purchase receipts, banking statements, contracts, and magazine clippings. Not only has this nearly eliminated my paper storage, but I can find any document in a matter of seconds—and print a copy if I like.

Electronic storage is particularly handy for notebook users, who can view a document or contract anywhere. Need a printout but don’t have a portable printer? Fax yourself a hard copy.

2. Sometimes you may not want the image of a document but the words it contains. The optical character recognition (OCR) software that came with your scanner can scan and translate words into text that’s readable in your word processor.

3. The latest generation of speech recognition software is fasterand more accuratein translating your voice to text. This is also a quick way to input statistics. REALTOR®Magazine will focus on speech recognition software in its January 1999 “Buyer's Guide.”

4. With the real estate industry extolling the virtues of digital cameras for taking property photos, many have overlooked the camera's document management capability. Many cameras have modes for close-up shots—perfect for instant scanning of your seller's deed, mortgage, and survey documents during a listing interview.

5. If you don’t have a scanner, just fax documents to your computer, provided that you have a fax modem. The quality won't be the same as a scanned image, but it’s convenient and simple.

PART II: Send it

1. Fax documents, such as property highlight sheets, to your clients or customers directly from your computer.

2. If a client uses the same software as you, send a document file by E-mail. That eliminates the need for paper entirely and offers instant delivery, postage free.

3. If a consumer doesn’t use the same software, Adobe Acrobat will let you “print” a document from any program by converting it into a PDF (portable document format) file that you can send by E-mail or floppy disk.The PDF retains the look of your flyer, CMA, or contract when a recipient views it in Adobe Reader, a program that comes loaded on many computers and can also be downloaded gratis from Adobe's Web site,

The latest versions of Netscape and Internet Explorer come with plug-ins that let you view PDF files from your browser.

So, you see, “paperless” isn’t a utopian concept. By following these tips, you can control how much paper you generate.

In addition to instructing GRI programs, Stephen Canale has spoken at hundreds of seminars in 45 states, covering subjects relating to real estate sales and technology. For more information on his products, newsletter, and seminars, visit

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