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Forms: Why Bother?

Nobody knows who invented the first form (he or she must have been a bureaucrat), but forms have been proliferating like weeds ever since. There's a good reason for this—they're useful. In a society like ours, which depends so heavily on the processing of information, they're essential for organizing both the way the information is gathered and how it's presented. If a census-taker merely asks a person to "tell me all about your household," she'll probably get some of the data she's after, but she'll miss some and receive other, unwanted information. In this disorganized state, the information is almost useless. Give the same census-taker a form with which to guide the data collection, and life suddenly becomes much easier.

Designing Effective Forms

Because you intend for your forms to gather information, you have to persuade people to fill them out. People dislike forms almost on principle, and if the form is badly organized, too long, and filled with irrelevant questions, nobody will touch it. Here are a few things you can do to create user-friendly forms:


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