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Electronic Forms

Although electronic forms may not be as glamorous as eBooks, they represent a practical, hands-on application for electronic PDF publishing—and one that's already in wide use in businesses and governments everywhere. The IRS, for example, purports to be the largest distributor of PDF documents in the world, with more than 8,000 PDF documents available on its intranet, including more than 3,000 forms. Of these, roughly 900 are available to the public and 500 can be completed online.

Although most businesses don't need to publish electronic forms in the same volume as the IRS, this example demonstrates the incredible potential of electronic forms. When tied to databases, PDF forms can save hours of manual labor in re-keying information. Picture, for example, completing a form to request that your health insurance company reimburse you for a doctor's prescription: You locate the PDF form on your company intranet and open it in your browser to complete it online. Type your social security number into the first field, and the form draws all of your relevant personal information from a database—name, address, policy and group number, and so on. Even the date is filled in automatically. All you have to do is fill in the specifics of your request and click Submit. Now extend that vision to all of the other forms you encounter in business and design—travel reimbursement forms, requisitions, purchase orders, catalog order forms, even print procurement forms—and you begin to see the promise of electronic forms.


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