What is Optical Mark Recognition (OMR)?

14 September, 2019

Optical mark recognition (OMR) is the process of reading and storing human-handled data (dots, dashes, circles, etc.) into the computer system. It is working based on a "Law of reflection" principle - OMR scanners use its sensors to detect marked areas on the paper surveys - marked areas will reflect less light than the blank pages. For its 99% accuracy and ability to handle thousands of paper documents per hour (depending on the quality of the scanner) OMR is being widely used in offices, schools and universities since the 1960s to this day.

Other types of recognition often confused with OMR includes OCR (Optical Character Recognition) and ICR (Intelligent Character Recognition). OCR reads machine-printed characters and is widely used in finance, health care sectors, and government agencies. On the other hand, ICR reads handwritten characters using digital signal processing software which compares the text with data stored in the database. Most of the ICR systems have a self-learning system-neutral network that automatically updates the database when new characters or handwriting styles are introduced. It has a great accuracy exceeding 98% and does not require manual data entry.

Optical Mark Recognition Pros

  • Eliminated human error mistakes
  • High accuracy
  • Decreased investment costs
  • Simple to read
  • Saves time and effort

Optical Mark Recognition Cons

  • OMR sheets cannot be folded or torn
  • Mark has to be dark enough to be readable
  • Not suitable for text input


  • Exam Sheets
  • Lottery Tickets
  • Inventory Count
  • Election Poll Results
  • Census Data Processing
  • Feedback Forms
Page last updated: 23 December, 2019

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