The growth of digital libraries has yielded a large number of handwritten historical documents in the form of images, often accompanied by a digital transcription of the content. The ability to track the position of the words of the digital transcription in the images can be important both for the study of the document by humanities scholars and for further automatic processing. We propose a learning-free method for automatically aligning the transcription to the document image. The method receives as input the digital image of the document and the transcription of its content and aims at linking the transcription to the corresponding images within the page at the word level. The method comprises two main original contributions: a line-level segmentation algorithm capable of detecting text lines with curved baseline, and a text-to-image alignment algorithm capable of dealing with under- and over-segmentation errors at the word level. Experiments on pages from a 17th-century Italian manuscript have demonstrated that the line segmentation method allows one to segment 92% of the text line correctly. They also demonstrated that it achieves a correct alignment accuracy greater than 68%. Moreover, the performance achieved on widely used data sets compare favourably with the state of the art.
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