Not too often to companies using Data Capture technology have the chance to change their forms design or even create new ones. If you have this ability, USE IT! A properly designed form is the fist step to success in automating that form. There are many things you can do to make sure your form is as machine readable as possible. Typically the forms we are talking about are hand-written but occasional also machine filled. I will highlight the major points.
1. Corner stones. Make sure your form has corner stones in each corner of the page. The corner stones should be at 90 degree angles to each neighbor one and the ideal type is black 5 mm squares.
2. Form title. A clear title in 24 pt or higher print and no stylized font.
3. 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.
4. Mono-Spaced fields. For the fields to be completed it’s best to use field types that are 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.
5. 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.
6. Separate fields. Separate each field by 3 mm or more.
7. Consistent fields. Make sure the form uses consistent field types stated in 4.
8. Form breaks. It’s OK to break the form up into sections and separate those sections with solid lines. This often helps template matching.
9. Placement of field text. For the text that indicates what a field is “first name”, “last name”. It is best to put these left justified to the left of the field at a distance of 5mm or more. DO NOT put the field descriptor in drop-out in the field itself.
10. Barcode. Barcode form identifiers are useful in form identification. Use a unique id per form page and place the barcode at the bottom of the page at lease 10 mm from any field.
Chris Riley – Sr. Solutions Architect
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.