How to Improve Data Collection from Paper Forms

Even though it’s 2021, we still may find ourselves receiving physical forms printed with important information. There are a number of good reasons for doing this, but there is one definitive large downside. Once we get these forms back, there’s going to be a lot of manual data entry in your future unless we use one of the following solutions to help streamline data collection.

Capturing Data From PDF Forms

Why are we mentioning PDF forms in an article about paper forms? Well, There are two methods of optimizing paper form data collection we’re going to talk about, and both data capture solutions include utilizing PDFs in the workflow.

1 Scan Paper Forms into Database Using OCR

The first option requires scanning your documents and transforming them into PDFs. Using an OCR tool (we recommend our own tool, PDF Alchemist) you can extract form data into data formats such as XML or JSON which can then be uploaded to your database.

Optical Character Recognition (OCR) aims to “read” handwritten or printed text of a scanned image or document to collect data.

2 PDF Barcode Form Fields

As opposed to the OCR option, this is something that will need to be set up before any forms get sent out. Using barcodes on forms makes data capture so much easier down the line. The idea is that your user/customer/prospect will fill out their forms on their preferred device, but when they print it out it’ll include a barcode that has captured all their form data.

Setting up 2D dynamic barcode generation may not be possible if your users are using free PDF readers, such as Acrobat Reader. Fortunately, we offer a service that enables such features within the Adobe Reader allowing you to simplify PDF data capture.

Adobe Experience Reader Extensions (AERE) flags your PDFs to enable extra features when opened with Adobe Reader. We offer AERE as a service, so there’s no need for any IT infrastructure or complicated software setup.

Once you get your paper forms back, all that’s needed is to scan the barcodes and you’ll have extracted all the form data from the PDF files!

Try Out The AERE Demo Below

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Optimize Your Forms Data Capture

Save yourself the time and energy of manual data input and automate parts of your forms processing workflow. With proper software, you can extract data from barcode fields relatively quickly and seamlessly, or use OCR to extract data from scanned PDFs. Each method has its pros and cons, but both will save a ton of money in the end.

Try out the PDF Alchemist 7-day evaluation to extract data from PDF using OCR technology.

Alternatively, implement a barcode data entry workflow using Adobe Experience Reader Extensions. Take it for a spin with a 7-day evaluation license today.

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