Form Editor

A form template is designed using the drawing tools to add the form components. A form ID barcode and a saved segment are the basic components which must be added to each page of the template. Consideration needs to be taken when designing a scannable form which will be captured with Optical Mark Recognition. Recognition Test the template, then published as a PDF file, which is used for printing the pages.

Create a New Form

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  • To create a new form template click "New Form" in the Application toolbar.
  • In the "Create New Form" dialog, type a Name for the form template and "Preset" the paper size and page orientation.

New Form Dialog

  • Click OK and a new blank form page will open in the Form Editor.

Drawing Tools

Form drawing tools

All drawing tools are selected using the mouse. Click on the tool and then on the page to add the form components. Double clicking on a tool will keep it selected until you click on another tool.

Lines and Shapes


Select: Click and drag the mouse across elements that have been added to select them all at once. Alternatively, hold the shift key and click on each element separately.

Lines and Shapes

Add shapes or lines by clicking on the tool and then on the form page.

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Use the Element and Shape panels to modify the position, size and other attributes of the object.


Add text areas for typing, click on the text tool and then on the form template to add the text area, dragging it to size with your mouse.

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Unselected Text areas that don't contain text can't be seen. Use the Select tool and drag across the page to locate them.

Text Area Panel

text area panel

Font Family: The typeface that is applied to the text.

Font Style: The attributes of a font, such as bold, italic and underline.

Font Size: The size of text measured in points.

Select 'Embed Font' to attach a font to a document, so that the font may be used wherever the document is used.

Alignment: The text placement relative to the text area border.

Color the text area forground color using swatches, HSB or RGB.

Background color of the text area using swatches, HSB or RGB.

Edit text area content in a larger text area dialog.


Create an area on the Segment page in which to load an image.

Use images saved as .svg, .png or .jpg image files.

1.) Click on the Image tool and then Click on the page to add an image area.

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2.) Double click in the image area to open 'Image Properties', or click 'Select Image' in the 'Image Area' panel.

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3.) Select Retain Shape to keep the image in proportion.

4.) Click 'Load Image' and browse for the image to open it.

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5.) Click "Retain Shape" to keep the aspect correct. 6.) Drag the image corners to resize the image.

See SVG Support for Image types.


Create an empty segment area to load segments into.

1.) Click 'Segment'
2.) Click on the page and drag to draw an empty segment area, the size doesn't matter as the segment will fill into the form page.

Empty Segment Area

Empty Segment Area

3.) Double click inside the segment area to open "Segment Area Properties"

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4.) Click "Add Segment" and choose the saved segment from your computer's files.

5.) Click OK and the segment will load onto the form template.

To add more pages to the form template use, the Add page button. Note: Add a Form ID barcode to each new page.

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Add form pages.

Embed One or More Segments Into a Segment Area.

If there is more than one segment loaded into the segment area, the segment that is printed on each published form, will be determined by the segment area's segment selector; either a random segment, a pre-selected segment or a segment chosen by matching its segment selector ID to records that come from the database when publishing a form.

Add a segment area to the form template and Double click to open Segment Area Properties.

  1. Click "Add Segment" to open and select a saved segment file, click OK then click "Add Segment" , repeat to select the next segment file and so on.

  2. Link Fieldname: Type the fieldname used in your Source Data table which has the records you want to the segments to be published to. gender table records Example: In this image of records in a data table, the link fieldname is "gender"

  3. Default Segment: When a Link ID has been changed, it will appear in the default segment drop down menu and can be chosen.

  4. Link ID: Type fieldnames as they appear in the source data table.
  5. Identifier Hash is an automatically generated number which identifies this version of the segment in case it is edited in the future. In this example, the Link ID is changed to "male" for the segment called "questions for men" and changed to "female" for the segment file called "questions for women". The fieldnames are exactly as they are typed in the source data table.

load multiple segments


The Barcode tool is used to place barcodes on the template.
1.) Form ID Barcode.
2.) Other Barcode Types
Click on the Barcode tool and click on the page, leaving enough room for the barcode to expand.

Form ID Barcode

A Form ID Barcode must be added to every page of the form template, to be used by the software for:

  • Recognizing each form page.
  • Storing the processed data in Captured Data.
  • Linking the form template to respondent's records in a source data table.
  • Linking multiple form pages together with the template they belong to.

The form ID barcode can be added wherever you want on the page as long as it doesn't overlap the margins or touch any black lines, text or mark areas on the form template, as this would break the barcode detection. Check the detection of the barcode in Recognition preview.
Positioning of Barcodes

form id barcode

The Form ID Barcode Number

The "form page ID" is the first part of the Form ID barcode number. The number is generated in sequence by FormReturn as each form page is published, and is used for recognizing the scanned form pages and connecting them to the template they belong with.

The "Form password" is the second part of the Form ID barcode number, each published form page will have a form password number which makes the page unique.

Barcode Element Panel

barcode element

Adjust the Width and Height in pixels of the barcode element..

X: Y: Adjust the Barcode position on the page.

Barcode Panel

barcode panel

The Height of the barcode can be increased for better detection if the scanned barcode can't be detected.

  1. Uncheck 'Use Default Height'
  2. Change the height of the barcode.
  3. Click 'Apply Settings' to make the changes take effect.

Other Barcode Types

For affixing you own barcode labels see: Adding a Barcode Area

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Add a default barcode with the barcode tool and choose another barcode type from the drop down menu in the 'Barcode' panel.

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Barcode Type

Other barcodes can be created and recognized in FormReturn, as either a static or dynamic barcode of your choice, by selecting a barcode type in the Barcode Panel.

Barcode Value

Modify the barcode value to either a number that appears throughout all forms (static) or a number that is taken from a database query (dynamic).

Form Design Shortcuts / Features


Save your work regularly. Ctrl+S.

Form files save with the extension .frf - Segment files save with the extenstion .frs


Locate save in the file menu


Undo in the 'menu bar' to go back one or more steps. Edit, Undo.

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Recognition Preview

Click 'Recognition Preview' to 'Preview Check' the detection of the Barcodes, Segment and checkbox Fragments. If any of these elements can't be detected by the software, go back to the editor where they were added to make sure they are not touching anything else added to the page.

Preview Check

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Alignment Toolbar

Use the Alignment tools to design a neat form. Select multiple elements on the form and click on an alignment tool too align them.

alignment tools

Hovering the mouse over each icon in the toolbar will highlight what each alignment tool does.

Align Tops alligns the tops of selected areas with each other. Align Bottoms alligns the bottoms of selected areas with each other. Align Lefts alligns the left sides of selected areas with each other. Align Rights alligns the right sides of selected areas with each other. Align Horizontal Centers alligns the center of selected areas horizontally. Align Vertical Centers alligns the center of selected areas vertically. Distribute Horizontal Spacing equalizes the horizontal spacing between selected areas. Distribute Vertical Spacing equalizes the vertical spacing between selected areas.

Tip: Click Edit, Undo if the wrong tool was selected.



Zoom in to focus on an area / Zoom out to see the whole form page at once.

Add Form Pages

Add new form pages, remove form pages + - page icons. Move between pages with the arrows. Don't forget to add a Form ID Barcode to each new form page created.

add form page

Form - Set Properties

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Modify the form template details and general settings.

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Page Properties

page properties

Measurement: Metric or Imperial.
Orientation - portrait or landscape
Preset Size - Set a Preset or custom paper size.
Width and Height - Modify for a custom form paper size.
Margins - Modify margins.
Apply Settings - will cause any changes made to take effect.

Form Identification Components.

There are three ways to add form identification to the form template, so you know who each form belongs to.

1.) Template Variable Replacement is the most straight forward because it prints people's records from your source data table, onto the published form pages, similar to mail merge.

2.) If the resondent's are still not added to a source data table, an ID grid, which is a Key Field, can be added to the segment to capture the id numbers from form pages.

3.) A barcode label of your own choice affixed to a barcode area on the segment.

Form ID - Template Variable Replacement
Key Field - OMR ID Grid
Key Field - Barcode Area
Anonymous Forms

Template Variable Replacement

Similar to mailmerge, Template Variable Replacement (TVR) replaces Source data table fieldnames typed on the form template, with the records in your source data table.

Fieldnames from you source data table are typed into a text area added to the form template and must correspond exactly with the ones in your Source data table. The fieldnames are typed surrounded by the characters less than («) and greater than (») to trigger FormReturn to source these records from the data table.
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When the form template is published the typed fieldnames will be replaced with each person's record in your Source data table. A unique form is published and printed for each person. The fieldnames you type, indicate which records will be used from the data table, so they must be typed exactly as they appear in your source Data table.

When the scanned forms are processed, the captured data from each form page will be stored beside the record it belongs to.

To add records to FormReturn's database see… Full guide to Adding Source Data

Recognition Testing

Click 'Recognition Preview' to 'Test Preview' a scan of the form template.

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Barcodes, Segments and Fragments and Marks detected in the 'Test Preview' screen in 'Recognition Preview'.

Full guide to Form Recognition Testing

Publish and Print

Publishing the form template, stores the template information in FormReturn's database: 1.) The Form ID barcodes on scanned form images from the publication can be recognized by the software. 2.) Captured data is stored with the Template Publication.

  1. Click the Publish Form tab.
  2. Name the Publication
  3. Select a Source Data Table for the Captured Data to link to.
  4. Select the Publication Type
  5. Click Publish & PDF to save the publication as a pdf file which can be printed from at any time.

Full guide to Publishing Form Templates