PDF Forms - why you no boxes?

, posted: 26-Jun-2012 09:04

I recently had a number of claims to make for insurance purposes. Both companies had PDF forms to download, print and send away.

Neither had and online claim system, but I guess that could be forgiven with the number of supporting documents (originals only) that had to be supplied.

But my handwriting is truly doctor-worthy. And upon having Adobe Acrobat Professional on my work laptop I used their form wizard to get 70% of the form fields, and then quickly ran through drawing the form

Now I didn't put in formatting, pretty drop down boxes, just pure text boxes - all that is really available to me if I was using a pen, but honestly it only took me about 20 minutes.  The result was a form that could be easily read by a human or OCR technology upon receipt by the insurance company.

I thought about this as I walked to work. For an extra 30 - 60 minutes on these forms, these companies could supply a forms enabled PDF file for those inclined to fill out via computer. I'm not expecting electronic delivery, as I'm still expecting to print it out to sign it and supply the supporting documents (that is a whole other conversation), but means that the form I fill out is more legible, has had more corrections made to it (rather than crossing out or reprinting), could include descriptions on fields, notes, prompting fields (via drop down boxes, lists, enforced date formats, enforced character limits and more.

Example form - this is from the New Zealand Passport Adult renewal form - PDFs a available readily from www.passports.govt.nz/Downloading-and-printing-forms

The instructions clearly state to write in CAPITAL letters, so "that our computer software can accurately capture your information" - well why not enforce the use of captials by using a form, and use a computer to enter the information?

For those not inclined to fill out via computer, then another version of the PDF, or in fact the same one (the forms text boxes will not print out when empty).
Example 2 - passport form with boxes - these display in Adobe reader - but do not print - what is the harm in having them?

Example 3 - Filled in by hand - being in capitals - my doctor worthy scribbling is not so evident.

Example 4 - which would you rather receive?

Seems like a win-win to me.  Why don't companies do this? Lack of knowledge? Lack of forethought? Antiquated thinking? Or just laziness?  I think it's antiquated thinking. Companies are so used to designing the forms for printing out and later using the same form on a web site for download, they didn't take it that one step further and forms enable the PDF files.

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davidcole Cole
Lower Hutt
New Zealand

Been thinking it would be nice to have a blog but not sure if I have enough to say.

I'm an I.T worker from Wellington New Zealand.

I like my toys so this will probably have posts about my dealings with those.

My Cellphone is an iPhone 5s

I run a NextPVR based PVR at home to replace my video recorder, DVD player and to host all my music. I'm also really big on Plex, for centralising all my music, videos and I've written a plugin or two for it for accessing live TV and for storing recordings with metadata.

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