Today’s scanning software helps to make the scanning process easier than it was few years ago, but here are a number of tried-and-true guidelines that you should follow for the best results from your hardware. Here’s a cheat sheet of rules that every scanner owner should follow: Don’t place heavy objects on your scanner’s glass. Besides the possibility of a cracked or a broken scanner glass, rough or pointed objects can cause scratches that will show up in your images. Don’t forget that paper clips and staples are public enemy number one for your scanner. Please remove them before you place your original! Do work with the largest possible original. The larger the original, the better quality image that you’re likely to get. (Sure, you can scan a postage stamp, but use a higher dpi setting so that you have enough pixels to enlarge the image later.) Do clean your scanner glass with the right material. Never spray glass cleaner directly on the glass: Too much liquid on the glass can leak under the surface, causing condensation later. Instead, use a soft photographer’s lens cloth or a monitor wipe premoistened with alcohol, which evaporates quickly. We clean my scanner glass at least once a week. Do add as much RAM to your PC as you can afford. The more memory that you add, the easier and faster your PC can handle larger scans. Remember that some of those scanned images might end up being 40 or 50MB in size. Also, any image editor will perform much better with additional memory. If you’re using Photoshop or Paint Shop Pro on a regular basis, we recommend a minimum of 256MB of RAM. Don’t overwrite your original scan. If you’re experimenting with a scanned image, for example, if you’re applying filters or changing the color balance for an artistic effect, keep the original as is and save a copy with your changes. After you’ve applied changes in an image editor and saved those changes, you usually can’t backtrack to the quality of the original image. Do keep your scanner drivers up-to-date. Like other hardware devices that I mention throughout this book, check your scanner manufacturer’s Web site often for updates to your scanning software and for Windows drivers. Don’t use outdated or specialized image formats. PC owners should avoid Microsoft Paint (MSP) images. By using one of the major image formats (TIFF, JPEG, BMP, or GIF), you give others a better chance to load and work with your scanned images.