So, you need to encourage a group of people to respond to your list of questions. Electronic fillable forms are a simple way to reach everyone concerned and gather their responses. Let me tell you more!

Fillable forms are ideal if you need to ask multiple people the same questions. This could be part of a recruitment process, gathering customer insight or arranging the work’s Christmas do! You might use these electronic documents as part of the process of onboarding new clients or surveying employee satisfaction.

“The wise man doesn’t give the right answers, he poses the right questions.” Claude Levi-Strauss

With fillable forms, the design and layout are fixed and can be created following your branding guidelines.  As a result, everyone receives the same professional format and can’t alter it. However, specific fields allow responses to be entered. These might include selecting options from a list, checkboxes or typing in information.

When you receive the completed forms, they will also follow a standard format. As a result, it’s easier to collate and compare the information shared. It is also possible for forms to be integrated into some CRM systems, so data can be imported and exported.

How do you create fillable forms?

There are three main ways to create fillable forms, these are by using:

Word or Excel

Adobe Acrobat

Survey Apps

Word document & Excel spreadsheet fillable forms

You could design a simple questionnaire in Microsoft Word or Excel with spaces for people to respond. However, there is a better way. Make use of the Developer Tab. This allows you to select specific controls, such as checkboxes, date pickers, drop downs and free text fields, to insert into the form. Once you have added all the editable fields, the branded document can be locked. Locking ensures that users can only edit the fields and not make changes to any other parts of the form. Take a look at an example in my document gallery.

To access the Developer tab right click on the main menu area, click ‘Customize the Ribbon’, then find and add ‘Developer’ to the ‘Main tabs’ list.

Adobe Acrobat fillable forms

Adobe Acrobat allows you to create a PDF document from scratch or convert an existing document into a PDF format. Using the Prepare Forms tab (within Tools), form fields will automatically be added and you can edit and adjust these to create your desired fillable form.

The branded document is saved and can be shared as a PDF, with just the fillable fields able to be completed by the user.

Fillable forms with survey Apps

There are several tools to make it easy to create online questionnaires. These include MS Forms, Survey Monkey and Typeform. With these tools, you create a New Form and then add the required sections and questions. These usually focus on a fixed number of options, such as picking from a drop down list or giving a 1-5 rating (strongly agree, agree, neutral, disagree, strongly disagree).

Once created, you save and share. When submitted, the responses from the completed forms are collated and can also be exported to an excel spreadsheet, making viewing and analysis straightforward.

10 tips on creating fillable forms

To make creating and sending fillable forms worthwhile, you need a good percentage of responses. To increase the chances, you need to consider the user experience.

1. What’s essential?

My first tip is to consider what data is of value and how you will use it to inform decision-making, change and other business decisions. What do you really need to know? You are requesting people’s time, so don’t take too much of it! Limit the form to the essential information that you wish to capture.

2. Types of questions

Next, in terms of question types, I generally recommend using a range of questions which gather both quantitative and qualitative data. The majority should be easy for respondents to complete with a tick box or pick list. Free text sections can also be valuable in allowing people to express opinions.

3. Keep it simple

Let’s be honest, few of us enjoy completing a complex form. As soon as something isn’t clear, we switch off and are unlikely to continue. So, always keep your questions simple and jargon-free.

4. Accessibility

Consider readability in terms of font size and colour, is there enough contrast between the font and background? There is no point in having stylishly branded documents if the recipient can’t read the questions! MS Forms has an immersive reader, which provides an audio version of your questions, which some recipients may find easier to use.

5. Other options

It is good to provide a list for people to choose from but sometimes readers will need to give an answer you haven’t included. Add ‘Other’ as an option and give them a space to leave details, explain or clarify the answer they give.

6. Data protection

If your form requests any personal information, including email addresses, you need to request the recipients’ permission to store that data for GDPR compliance.

7. Group questions

Gather questions together logically to help the user. If the form is quite long you can break it into sections under different topics. You can also consider using grids of Likert scales to rate several statements at once e.g. ‘do you….. strongly agree, Somewhat agree, Neither agree or disagree, somewhat disagree, Strongly disagree.’

8. Set expectations

Be clear on what the questions will be about and what the responses will be used for. Give an idea of the time it should take to complete the form and if it’s quite lengthy consider including a progress bar or page numbers, e.g. page 1 of 3.

9. Mobile friendly

Many forms will be viewed/completed on a phone or tablet so make sure that it is easy to read and respond on all devices.

10. Test before sending

Once you have completed and saved your form, test it before you email it out! This way you can check spelling, that all fields work as intended and ensure the send, submit and receipt process works. I suggest asking a colleague to complete it.

Branded document specialist

As an example see my Brand questionnaire

If you can see the benefits of fillable forms, but haven’t the time, leave them to me. As a branded document specialist, I can transform your questions into a professional form. If required, I can send the form out to your mailing list and collate responses. It’s all part of my document support service.

Please contact me to discuss your requirements.

Fillable forms: What are they & why use them?