You may use Illy, or InDesign, but it sounds as if you may just use a simple word processing application such as WordPerfect or Worst where you can create tables.
I've tried using MS Word, but the table view doesn't seem to allow much re-arrangement once the table is placed onto the page. Seems like tables are placed where Word wants them, not where I want them. I need to be able to draw boundary lines throughout the document/form. Thanks for your help.
In that case, most natives would probably suggest your using InDesign. I would use Illy, at least for independent single page forms.
Can you tell me whether or not either InDesign or Illustrator trial downloads would allow me to try each program prior to buying them. If so, can I make up a trial form and actually print it out to see if it could be used without much effort? Before I spend $$$, I'd like to know for sure that either program will fill my needs. Thanks, again:)
Basically, the trial versions function as full versions, only without fonts (and maybe other licence covered things), so you can try everything before deciding.
Thank you, you've been very helpful indeed:)
You are welcome, parkpointer.
Please report back. It would be nice to know how things work, and you can get further help with the details.
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You can use just about any program on the planet to draw a form to be merely printed. MS Word does it just fine. Don't just automatically think in terms of "tables" features. (I very seldom use tables for anything in print.) Use a program that provides robust text handling and grids, and use proper tabs, paragraph rules, paragraph styles, etc. Between Adobe Illustrator and Adobe InDesign, InDesign's text handling and grids are far superior to Illustrator's.
But building forms that are limited to hard-copy use is very outdated. You may have some captive niche market in mind, but frankly, I would never actually pay someone to build forms which were not also usable in electronic form. You need a program that provides functional text fields, radio buttons, checkboxes, select controls (popup menus, drop down lists) etc., and a means by which the form can be filled out, saved, distributed, and archived both electronically and as hard copy. MS Word provides that. InDesign does not. Illustrator does not.
Among Adobe apps, you need to be looking at Acrobat Professional. Nowadays, PDF is the preferred print-ready format anyway, regardless of what program was used for the design. With Acrobat, you can use whatever program you like for the design, and then use Acrobat to add electronic interactivity (fields, select controls, etc.) Thus, the single PDF file works both for hard-copy print and for interactive electronic use.
But even that is somewhat archaic. Here's why:
The fundamental purpose of a form is collection of data. That is inherently related to database functionality. If form data is worth collecting, it's worth saving. Once data is collected by use of a form, the collector of the data needs to be able to efficiently sort, search, and report on the data collected in an ad-hoc, as-needed, on-demand fashion. Nowadays, it's hard to imagine someone not needing that from their form-based data gathering.
PDF's claim to fame is electronic document fidelity to the design of a print document. It's forms functionality makes it easy to add electronic interactivity, and thereby broadens its scope. (It's one more "hoop" that Acrobat technology is able to "jump through".) It's recently-added allowance for the end user to save a filled-out form has broadened its practicality, but is frankly late-to-the-game.
You can use a PDF-based form to collect data and you can even connect that collection scheme to a backend database. But doing so is more cumbersome and unintuitive than necessary. That's because PDF is still, at best, kind of an "in-between" technology, borne of a time that attempts to bridge the gap between electronic interactivity and physical hard-copy.
Nowadays, more direct, intuitive, and simpler workflows abound. The design and printability aspect of a form is trivial. Anything can do it, including any decent database (I'd recommend your looking at FileMaker Pro), and even ordinary HTML. A database is, well, already a database, and HTML serving as the front-end to backend databases is very common.
Kudos on being a very eloquent writer!
In my past, I used Office 2000 Premium for nearly 6-years. I found that Publisher worked as an extremely good for practically all desktop designing and exceptionally good for a forms tool program. Unfortunately, I have a Mac now and Publisher isn't available in Mac formatting. In lieu of that problem, I have recently added Nova Parallels & Windows XP to my Mac in an effort to get back to Publisher. So far so good, until the printer refused to be recognized by any of the Windows programs. Back to the drawing boards.
That's why I came to the Adobe Forum Community in the first place. I was looking for a Mac friendly form design capable program, hopefully something as good as Publisher was on the pc. In a previous post to the Acrobat forum, someone did not recognize the same thing that you have. That I could design the form in whatever program, turn it into a PDF, then I guess use Acrobat to file, distribute, fill in, etc.
Back to designing the form. I do have Word 2008 for Mac and I need to look throughout the formatting menus for more ways to control my editing. I am definitely not as affluent with Word that I should be. I haven't been able to understand moving boxes into place and then placing text into upper corners of the boxes, and do so without having the boxes moving around or disappearing altogether. Still trying to understand how to use all of the text editing and drawing features. Another reason for coming to these forums.
Thanks for all of the information!
I know I am WWWAY too late for this, but This is a new tutorial covering all aspects of designing forms in illustrator. I hope it is useful to someone!