Designing printed forms on a budget in a WinXP environment
March 11, 2006 5:04 PM   Subscribe

DesigningPrintedFormsOnABudgetFilter: I'd like to design some forms to be printed to standard laser printer paper to assist capturing information taken from telephone calls at work (WinXP SP2 environment).

I realize you can spend a lot of money setting up an appropriate environment for high-quality design of printed forms, but this is something I'm doing in my own time to increase my efficiency and I don't have any money to put towards buying software like Adobe Illustrator and In-Design etc.

So, I'm wondering what the designing-forms-on-a-budget-for-printing savvy MeFites would recommend? For want of any other direction, I've designed a basic form in the latest version of Inkscape. This went reasonably well, and I'm happy with the results. However, the destination format has to be something I can open and print at work.

We have a very restrictive Standard Operating Environment, so this would be limited to MS Publisher 2003, MS Word 2003 or PDF. I'm not aware of any app that we have that, for example, would open and print SVG format files in a double-sided format that would accomodate aligning the pages on each side, etc.

I've tried 'printing' from Inkscape to PDF using the free PDFCreator printer driver, but the printed result is very blurry.

So, I'm wondering if any MeFites have advice on how I can design forms at home (any WinXP software is fine, as long as it's free or very cheap) to go into a suitable format (preferrably PDF) for printing at work?
posted by planetthoughtful to Computers & Internet (5 answers total)
How elaborate are these forms?

If it were me, I'd just open up Word and make some tables and/or text boxes. Is there some reason that wouldn't suffice?
posted by Artifice_Eternity at 5:26 PM on March 11, 2006

I agree - I've designed dozens of forms for personal and professional use in MSWORD that are everything I needed them to be. with tables and form elements and positioning tricks, if you can imagine it on paper, you can make it in WORD.

I'd even be happy to help get you started, if you like. (no charge, of course - I'm bored.)
posted by chudmonkey at 10:34 PM on March 11, 2006

.doc sucks as a distribution format, though, especially if you want your form to have nice (i.e. not installed by default) fonts.

If it were me, I'd install 2.0, design my forms with its Writer and possibly Draw apps, and use its inbuilt PDF export function.

You can import chudmonkey's .docs into it too.
posted by flabdablet at 11:46 PM on March 11, 2006

HTML out of the question? I love making complex tables by hand.
posted by vanoakenfold at 6:38 AM on March 12, 2006

Open Office Calc or Excel can make simple forms. To make box for handwritten entries, select a cell or a range of cells, then Format it with Borders. Change the row height to make the box high enough to write into.

Print the page with row and column headings and grid lines turned off.
posted by jjj606 at 10:10 AM on March 12, 2006

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