Friday, July 20, 2012

Forming Up Your Genealogy--Part 1

This set of posts is going to involve using MS Word to create forms. During the course of your information collecting, you might need to collect data from others or you might want to fill out some or all of a form to deploy data and/or get information back. Any repetitive task you do is probably a good candidate for a form.

A form is similar to a template in that you have boilerplate text that you do not want to have changed. For example, in the form above, I have a logo, project title, and contact information in a header. The body of my form includes fields that identify the information I want to collect. All the recipient has to do is fill in the blanks. 

An example of when I would consider developing a form is for census pages. I have older relatives who can't see the bad PDFs of census pages. If I were to create a form for each census year, I could easily transcribe census data so that my relatives could see what I'm seeing on that blurry PDF that they can barely decipher. 

Your task over the next few days is to examine your methods and see where a form might be helpful to you. Are you a pro? Do you produce invoices? Do you want to create a fancy tree layout that allows you to fill in the blanks and know that you can't mess it up because it's a form? 

These sorts of documents are all over the Web. They are usually PDFs that you can't do much with except download and write on them. With this series of post, you'll learn to create your own forms and make them more useful than just about anything you can download for free. 

Also, you might want to brush up on your table creating skills. Tables play a big role in the creation of forms. They make layout and placement easier. 

A Toy to Toy With
While cruising the Net and looking at available forms (I needed to know what you might like to learn to do), I came across an interesting little site. You can upload any Word document or PDF, type directly in the form, and then download the completed form to your system. One of my pet peeves with society membership forms is that everything ends up on paper. This site lets you create an electronic version of your completed membership form. 

You can do lots of other tasks too. It's a slick little toy as things go. 
If you're interested in taking a look, click here to visit FillanyPDF ( When you get there, they have a movie on their home page that walks you through lots of what is available. It's pretty easy to hack your way through it too. 

It's limited because you are forced to register for a trial. After you try it once, they make you either quit or sign up. It's free but I didn't notice if they said how long it lasts. I'll try to remember to tell you when I get cut off. If you have to do this task all the time, the basic service is pretty cheap. 

No comments:

Post a Comment