3 paper forms you can get rid of right this second

Some offices can feel like forests, and it’s not just because you can get lost in a sea of cubicles while looking for someone.

At a time when technology is gradually changing how people work, why are desks still cluttered with paper?

Imagine all of the trees — not to mention time and money — that could be saved if many common forms were replaced with online, paperless alternatives.

That would certainly cut back on the amount of high-quality printer paper — and costly toner — that’s used.

Consider these findings from a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency report that analyzed nationwide recycling and refuse figures from 2015 (the most recent period for which compiled data is available):

  • Of the 21.4 million tons of nondurable paper goods that were tossed out, close to 21 percent, or 4.5 million tons, was high-grade, office-type paper from homes and businesses.
  • More office-type paper was thrown away than other nondurable paper goods, including magazines, books, mail, tissue paper, and paper plates and cups.

That’s a lot of paper.

We’ll show you how to go paperless by converting several common paper forms into online forms that you can build, share, and customize with ease

1. Registration Forms

Let’s be honest: Using paper forms to collect information from attendees and participants can be a hassle.

Even after you print the signup sheets or forms, you still have to organize them all, send them out, try to read registrants’ handwriting, and type the collected information into your computer.

No one wants to deal with that. Making the switch to online forms will eliminate your pesky paper woes.

With JotForm’s Form Builder, you can create a customized online form from scratch. Once you create an account, all you need to do is drag fillable form elements, such as name, address, or phone number, from a menu of options and place them on your form.

You can even control the look of your form by adding a background image, changing the font, or modifying the line spacing — if you have some coding skills, you can write CSS code into the Form Builder’s design tool to control every aspect of your form.

For more complex forms, you can use JotForm’s conditional logic feature, which can either hide or show questions based on a person’s previous answers.

If you need to collect a deposit or fee, you can connect your registration form to any one of JotForm’s integrations with popular payment processors, including Square, Stripe, PayPal, Worldpay, and Authorize.Net.

JotForm also offers a number of ways to share your forms so you can decide what works best. You can, for instance, embed your form on your website, share a direct link to your form, send out a fillable PDF, or publish your form on third-party platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and WordPress.

These options allow you to collect signup information securely for an upcoming conference, a rewards program, a sports camp, or just about any other program or event without having to print a single sheet of paper and deal with snail mail.

But the information you collect doesn’t have to live only in your JotForm account.

JotForm’s integrations can send incoming form responses to dozens of third-party apps that you already use, including Box, Constant Contact, Dropbox, Egnyte, Google Sheets, Google Calendar, Google Drive, HubSpot, Mailchimp, Salesforce, and Zapier.

If you need a place to start, check out the thousands of registration form templates created either by our talented designers or real JotForm users.

2. Contracts

Apart from being a pain to draw up and fill out, contracts can burn through paper — and printer ink — very quickly.

Online forms can streamline your workflow and save some trees without compromising the legal integrity of your document.

You can use the long text entry field in JotForm’s drag-and-drop Form Builder to outline all of the legal text that you need. You can also include JotForm’s initials widget, which requires people to add their initials at the bottom of your form. The terms and conditions widget contains a link to your legal text and requires form respondents to select the checkbox next to a statement affirming that they have read your terms and conditions.

JotForm’s e-signature widget allows you to place a blank signature area on your form. Respondents can fill it in with a computer mouse or trackpad.

Online forms make it easier for you to create and share legal documents, such as liability waivers, offer letters, model release forms, and lease agreements.

Once you’ve built and sent out your form, JotForm’s autoresponder feature can send an automated email to you or anyone who fills out your form. For example, you could send respondents a copy of their completed form, or send reminder emails after they’ve filled out your form and submitted their responses.

If you want people to automatically receive a copy of their form responses, you can use JotForm PDF Editor to give the document a polished look.

Much like JotForm’s Form Builder, just scroll through a menu of options to select the specific fields from your form that you want to include in the PDF. You can even use JotForm PDF Editor’s design features to add a business logo, modify the background, change the font, adjust the line spacing, tweak the page margins, protect the document with a password, or include page numbers.
If you need a little inspiration, check out the thousands of PDF templates created by fellow JotForm users and our design team.

3. Application Forms

Applications are great assessment tools, but they can be a headache to manage and organize.

With so many tasks that must be balanced on any given day, it’s easy for paper forms to get damaged or lost.

Online forms, meanwhile, can keep your workflow simple, organized, and secure, regardless of whether you’re creating a job, loan, or vendor application.

JotForm’s Form Builder gives you the options and leeway necessary to create an application that meets your needs. If you want to start with a clean slate, just select the questions you’d like to ask and drag them onto your form. You can ask more complex questions by using customizable form fields, such as dropdown menus, multiple choice questions, and single choice questions. You can even allow form respondents to upload files.

As responses come in, you can use that information to create customized PDFs with JotForm PDF Editor.

You can edit a question or add new text to form responses without modifying the original submitted information that’s stored in your JotForm account.

This could, for instance, allow you to distribute a plain PDF with notes for internal use among company teams and send a polished copy with customized branding to applicants.

Conclusion

It can be difficult to take paper forms out of the equation, especially since they have become so entrenched in traditional workflows. There are also, quite frankly, times when it may be helpful to have a physical form on hand.

But your office shouldn’t feel like a blast from the past, when the latest productivity tools consisted of file tabs, manila folders, staplers, and hole punchers.

Your productivity tools should be focused on saving you time and money, not on organizing reams of paper that are destined for a filing cabinet, waste basket, recycling bin, or shredder.

The good news is that you can begin to create a paperless office by converting common paper forms into online alternatives that can be built, shared, signed, and archived without killing any trees.

Old habits die hard in almost every office. “If it ain’t broke,” they say, “don’t fix it.”

But times are changing — and so should your forms.

Darin is a content writer at JotForm. He is passionate about disrupting perceptions, solving problems, and helping people be more productive with the easiest online form builder. Outside of the office, he is a rush-hour straphanger, adventure seeker, coffee drinker, and frequent traveler. You can contact Darin through his contact form.

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