Data capture is the retrieval of information from a document using methods other than data entry. The utility of data capture is the ability to automate this information retrieval where data entry would be inefficient, costly or inapplicable.
For example, barcode scanners at supermarkets and hospitals qualify as data capture tools. It is inefficient and costly for a human operator to enter every single item in the checkout line into a computer manually. Manual recording of data is only applicable when the volume of data is small and data entry is not costly. For example, logging an entire warehouse inventory is best done using data capture methods.