Companies using data capture technology don’t always have the option to modify the design of their forms or create new forms. When the opportunity is there, take advantage of it. A form that is well designed helps the success of the form being automated. Several things can be done to ensure form is machine-readable. Let’s review these important points when considering forms design.
- Corner Stones: Make sure your form has cornerstones in each corner of the page. The cornerstones should be at 90-degree angles to each neighbor one and the ideal type is black 5 mm squares.
- Form Title: A clear title in 24 pt. or higher print and no stylized font.
- Completion Guide: This is optional but sometimes is useful at the top of the form to print a guide on how best to fill in the fields of the type you use.
- Mono-Spaced Fields: For the fields to be completed, it’s best to use field types that are a character by character separation. Each character block should be 4 mm x 5 mm and should be separated by 2 mm or more distance. The best types of fields to use in order are letters separated by dotted frame, letters separated by drop-out color frame, letters separated by complete square frames.
- Segmented Fields by Data Type: For certain fields, it will be important to segment the field in portions to enhance ICR accuracy. The best example is date instead of having one field for the complete data split it into 3 separate parts first being a month field, next a day field, and finally a year field. Same is often done for numbers, codes, and phone numbers.
- Separate Fields: Separate each field by 3 mm or more.
- Consistent Fields: Make sure the form uses consistent field types stated in 4.
- Form Breaks: It’s OK to break the form up into sections and separate those sections with solid lines. This often helps template matching.
- Placement of Field Text: For the text that indicates what a field is “first name”, “last name”. It is best to add these left-justified to the left of the field and at a distance of 5 mm or more. DO NOT add the field descriptor in drop-out in the field itself.
- Barcode: Barcode form identifiers are useful in form identification. Use a unique id per page and place the barcode at the bottom of the page at least 10 mm from any field.
Ilya Evdokimov is a long-term practitioner and expert in leading Optical Character Recognition (OCR), Data Capture and Document Processing techniques, technologies and solutions. With over 15 years of experience spanning enterprise software implementations, mobile applications development, cloud-based systems integration and desktop-level automation, Ilya Evdokimov uses through industry knowledge and experience to achieve high efficiency and workflow optimization in most challenging paper-dependent and digital image capture environments.