How do I Choose the Best Data Entry Software?

A. Rohlandt

The first step to choosing the best data entry software is determining the specific information-processing requirements you have for the software. The amount of data that you will be working with will be the best gauge of whether simple spreadsheet or word processing programs will be sufficient or whether you will need database entry software or imaging software. The source of your data will affect your decision, because questionnaires will have different requirements than text searches or cataloging of terms or values.

A data entry software program for making spreadsheets.
A data entry software program for making spreadsheets.

If your intended use will be for limited questionnaires with small sample sizes, a simple spreadsheet program probably will be sufficient. A survey with 10 questions or less submitted by less than 200 people can be entered and calculated manually. Most computers have a spreadsheet program already built in that can handle data entry applications of this size. If not, there are free programs available through the Internet that include a spreadsheet or word processing application. A word processing program could be used for light transcription or translation.

Most computers come with a spreadsheet creation program.
Most computers come with a spreadsheet creation program.

More complex surveys or information sources will require database capability in the data entry software suite chosen. Again, with fewer than 200 respondents, the information can be entered manually, and the database program can sort the information for you. If you are going to be taking your information from paper forms, you should employ imaging software that will scan and display them so that you can enter the answers into the database. If your needs include a text search, optical character recognition (OCR) software might be required in your data entry software.

For the most complex surveys or largest sample sizes, there are data entry software suites called statistical programs that can provide and coordinate the differing components. These data entry applications are usually quite expensive, but because they perform multiple functions and can reduce the amount of human labor required, they can be cost effective in the long run. They are very complicated and will require knowledge of statistics and attention to detail in the development of the survey technique.

Your choice of data entry software depends a great deal on how deeply involved you are in the project. For the occasional or single instance, you might want to consider outsourcing. If you are seeking to start a service or run large, complicated and continuing information-processing tasks, then statistical or package programming could be a better option.

A person’s choice of data entry software depends on how deeply involved he is in the project.
A person’s choice of data entry software depends on how deeply involved he is in the project.

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Discussion Comments


I think if you are going to have long term work you might be better off outsourcing. There are so many data entry services available which can give good quality for money, and it provides jobs to people who might otherwise not be employed.

If it's a one off kind of job, I would also look at shareware software that you can download from online. Often they give you a free 30 day trial and if you only need it for one thing, you can just use it for that and then uninstall it.


@anon165235 - I think most of the time any data entry program that you are thinking about purchasing will have a free trial available online.

So, you can go to a reputable downloading site, one that guarantees that you won't be downloading viruses along with your software, and give it a try to determine quality before you purchase it.

You can also check out the reviews that people leave online for most different options.

Usually there will be a good range of reviews so you can see if the program does everything it says it does, and if people have been having any trouble with it.

Try to check reviews that say the person has been using it for a while, to get a really good overview on it.


how do i check quality?

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