DATA DOCTORS

Here’s how to bypass your printer when filling out forms

Sep 9, 2023, 5:45 AM

woman at printer...

(Pexels Photo)

(Pexels Photo)

Q: We live full-time in our RV and need to print forms so we can fill them out and scan them to send back. We won’t use it much, so what do you recommend?

A: One of the challenges of living full-time in an RV is space, so you’ll want to choose one of the many portable options that are much smaller from trusted brands like HP, Brother, Canon and Epson.

A major issue with having a printer in harsh environments (dust, heat, etc.) is that printer jets can become clogged when they are rarely used, so I’d suggest an alternative.

Save your money
Based on the description of your needs, there’s an option that won’t require you to spend any money that will be more efficient.

Most every form you’ll work with will come to your email as a PDF (Portable Document Format) file, so a software program that allows you to manipulate them is what I’d suggest.

This will eliminate the need to print the form, fill it out, and then scan it so you can send it back as it will stay on your computer the whole time.

PDF editing software
There are numerous options that will allow you to edit any PDF form including the ability to add your signature where needed.

A simple and free online tool called PDF Escape will work if you have Internet access.

You simply upload the form file to their site and click the ‘Edit’ button at the top to get started. There are three sets of editing tools: Insert, Annotate and Page.

You’ll primarily be using the tools under the Insert menu as the Annotate and Page tools are for structurally changing the form.

To place an ‘x’ in a checkbox on a form, use the Text tool from the Insert menu or click the down arrow at the bottom of the menu to get more options that include a checkmark.

Place your cursor over the box to be checked to insert either character. Don’t worry if it isn’t perfectly in place as you can move or resize the character afterwards.

If you need the option to edit forms without Internet access or feel uncomfortable uploading your files to their online tool, you can opt to pay for their premium tool that includes a downloadable program for Windows users (no MacOS option currently) so everything stays on your computer.

Creating and inserting signatures
Placing a signature on the form is one of the most important options you’ll need; you have a couple of ways to make it happen.

The Freehand tool will allow you to use your mouse like it’s a pen to create a signature, but most people find this too difficult or feel the signature is far too crude to use on an official document.

Another way to add your signature is to take a picture of it with your phone, preferably on a blank white piece of paper, and then email it to yourself so you can download it to your computer.

Once it’s saved to your computer, go back to the Insert menu and click on the Image tool to upload and place the signature in the appropriate location in the form.

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Here’s how to bypass your printer when filling out forms