Sending forms has been a real problem for small businesses who need to get information back from customers and want to retain the branding and professional identity of documents sent out on behalf of their company. Here is a technique from Applause that will enable you to achieve this.
Until recently if you wanted to send a simple form for a client or potential customer to complete and return to you there have been four broad options
1. send a word document – pretty much works but difficult to design and layout properly; and your carefully crafted fonts will disappear on receipt, usually screwing up the layout at the same time.
2. send a printable pdf - this works, design and layout are retained but can’t be electronically completed and returned thus taking you back to fax or post.
3. create a web based form – works well but a lot more work, requires technical staff to manage or outsourcing to developers. Either way it is expensive.
4. create an xml coded pdf – again this works well but as in 3. above needs qualified people to administer.
For large businesses or systems using standard forms on a mass scale clearly the web route works best, but for SME’s the cost of this route can be prohibitive. For smaller operations MS Word or resorting to print and fax has been the answer, and anyone who has ever tried to creatively brand and format a Word document will be aching for a better way . . .
. . . and so here it is.
With the latest upgrade to Adobe Acrobat the age old problem of not being able to save edited pdf has now been removed. It is now possible to create forms in a design programmes such as Quark, Illustrator, InDesign using creative design, images, logos, brand fonts and typographical design export these to pdf and then add all the data fields you want the recipient to complete and return to you. The finished pdf can be easily managed by non technical staff who simply email to the recipient who complete the form and email by return.
Hey presto, clear, well designed forms that retain brand identity and professionalism managed simply.
Adobe haven’t exactly made this crystal clear but here is the method to produce editable AND saveable documents
1. Create your branded form in your preferred software package and export to pdf
2. Using Acrobat Professional ( you can’t do this in the Reader sadly) open the pdf
3. In the menu bar below the main menu find and select ‘Forms’ and ‘Start from Wizard’. Go through the wizard process Acrobat will create a new version of your pdf and will have tried to insert all the forms fields guessing where they should be. If you’ve made your form field areas pretty obvious the wizard is pretty good and will have sorted it all for you.
4. Now you can fix the fields where the wizard has got it wrong, adjust and edit to suit or add more as required.
5. Save the form using a different name and reopen. Youl will now see all your field areas, check boxes etc. (important to Save as a different file name as you can’t go back to the original)
5. The final step is to make the form editable and savable in Reader. Go to the ‘Advanced’ menu and select ‘Enable Useage Rights in Adobe Reader. Now you have a form that can be emailed completed and returned
Send a test email to a colleague, get them to complete and return to check all is OK.
If you need any help with this process please don’t hesitate to get in touch. Call 0117 933 4416 or 07770 750327