How to convert a paper form into a digital one free?

Table of Contents

Today, environmental protection is a matter that concern everybody. Consequently, both companies and individuals search for alternatives to regulate, minimize or even prevent their negative impact on the planer. Due to the role that digital tools have taken in our lives, companies are beginning to use digital solutions that are environmentally friendly and help them to streamline their processes. Reducing, reusing and recycling the things that you use in your office is essential. If we are able to recycle a ton of paper, we will be saving the lives of 17 trees. However, better than recycling paper is reducing paper consumption. By using digital forms, you will cut down paper usage and will optimize your business operations. Therefore, you can gain a competitive edge and win a bigger market share.

Why going digital?

Embracing new digital technologies and tools can save you time, help you finding new customers, become more efficient and to succeed in today’s competitive market. With digital forms, data can be organized easily according to different variables like city, customer name, address, or other important information. That makes searching and sorting the necessary information much easier. Digital data can also be synchronized and users can have access to it from anywhere in the field.

By converting to digital forms, you will have access to a huge variety of great features, which are only available by going digital. Some of these features include sharing live location, the use of the photo camera, making instant calculations, time-tracking and barcode scanning.

What is a digital form?

A digital form is an electronic version of a paper form. It is the equivalent of a paper document that is used to collect data. Forms are deployed for various purposes in all industries. When you use paper forms you need you collect date in the field, you send it to the office where is uploaded to the server or the cloud. It is more convenient to use digital forms in such situations to avoid repeating the data entry from the paper form to the computer. Digital forms give you access to every form in any location. You save time and money by stop spending on pre-printed forms.

They can reproduce all the elements of a paper form, such as writing text, drawing a sketch, filling in a checkbox or adding a signature. Furthermore, digital form are more powerful because you can add elements that you cannot include when using with paper forms. Digital forms can be filled in faster and they are more accurate because you can implement a system to automatically validate information.

The world is heading into a digital world. Make the switch to digital forms and improve your company’s performance.

Converting a paper form into a digital form

Imagine that you have been asked to convert an old paper questionnaire and distribute it to the field team via email, and then return the responses back to the central office. Hoe can you do? You have a few options to get the task done. The first one is to re-type up the form from scratch. The second option is to scan, send the document and let your teammates figure out how to fill it out. The other option is to turn it into a PDF.

You could find many free PDF editing software program on the market today. Most of them uses OCR (Optical Character Recognition) to separate the text from the paper document so that the text can be found on the page. This software also detects the fillable fields on the form so that the user can tab through the form and fill it in. A Scan to PDF tool can simplify the process. Some PDF software provides custom settings to improve the final appearance of your source document. We suggest to follow these instructions:

-Load your source document into the flatbed scanner or the automatic document feeder of your multifunction printer.

-Launch Adobe Acrobat.

-On the File menu, point to Create PDF, and then click From Scanner.

-In the Scanner list, choose your installed scanner/printer.

-Under Output, select New PDF Document.

-Under Document, check Make Searchable (Run OCR).

-Click Scan

-Press the scanner button on the scanner/printer.

-On the Forms menu, point to Start Form Wizard and then click An Existing Electronic Document. Acrobat will display your form with highlighted fields and a list of suggested form fields.

-Review the form fields and make any changes as required.

-Save your form.

Another way to scan a document is going directly to the Forms menu and allow Acrobat to scan and create the form straight away. This shortcut assumes that you are satisfied with the default scanning options: paper size, color (black and white, grayscale and color), resolution, etc.

How to convert documents into fillable PDF forms

You can convert paper, Word, Excel, and other files into fillable PDF forms. It is easy to convert a Microsoft Word document to a PDF document using Adobe Acrobat Pro. This application will automatically create a fillable PDF from Word and generate fillable fields and controls from the contents of the document. You can then modify the converted form if necessary. If you do not have access to Adobe Acrobat Pro, there are some lower-priced and free alternatives for editing PDF forms and for converting word documents into fillable PDF forms.

Convert PDF to fillable form free

If you do not have Adobe Acrobat, there are many free tools available online. In general, free online PDF editors typically let you add text and other simple elements and may allow you to move sections over. However, usually they do not have the capabilities to go further than simple edits. Usually, online PDF editor apps are available free for a 30-day trial period, after which you need to pay a subscription fee. Adobe offers a one-week free trial for Acrobat and during that period, you can create the form you need or decide if it is worthy paying the subscription. As an alternative to both Acrobat and free PDF editors, there are budget editors like pdfforge PDF Architect that perform many of the same functions as Acrobat for a lower price.

Converting with Acrobat Pro

You can convert Word to a fillable PDF in a single step using Acrobat Pro. To do so, first Choose Create Form, Select a file, change the file selection type to All Files (.) and select your Word document. Acrobat converts the Word document to a PDF and creates a form from the converted document without your having to launch Word. To do that, you need to have Word installed on your computer.

Adding form fields

After converting the document, you can review it and modify it as necessary. Use the editing icons next to Prepare Form to add new writable fields to the document and the formatting buttons at the top of the right column to align your labels and data fields. You can also change the names of the data fields assigned to the writable values if you want them to be different. Choose the blue Preview button on the Prepare Form line to preview a copy of the form.

What to consider when using a PDF converter?

Supported file formats

A good PDF converter should support exporting original PDFs into common file formats such as Microsoft Office Word, Excel, PowerPoint, text, image, etc.

Conversion quality

The best PDF converters should be able to retain all the formatting from the source PDF files, so you will not lose any data and keep everything as it was in the original document.

Optical Character Recognition (OCR)

OCR technology is capable of extracting the text in the scanned PDFs and exporting them into actual readable texts. Then you can edit the text in converted files just like you use a word processor.


The price range for PDF converters is wide, from free of cost to a few hundred dollars. Adobe Acrobat is great, but for most people, it is quite pricy. You should consider the price of a program before getting it.

Conversion speed

Obviously, you do not want to spend half an hour waiting for the conversion process to finish. A powerful PDF converter program should be able to handle your conversion requests and export converted files instantly.

Easy to build digital application form

By signing up to DataScope, you will have access to our Mobile Form Builder, which allows you to easily create, personalize and edit any type of mobile form. To create and edit forms, the DataScope user must have authorization from the account administrator, in order to access the Mobile Form Builder.

By going digital, you will be making your form much easier to be filled in. This will result in more applications which in the long run shall bring advantages to your business. Are you ready to make the change? Sign up now for free!


DataScope is a platform which allows various industries to streamline, organize and evaluate the work of their field staffs thanks to online forms which provide real time indicators 100% adaptable to any field.

Take control of your Work Orders

With the # 1 platform to digitize tasks

You Might Also Like

Visit us and join the Digital Revolution with DataScope

Learn how to stop using paper today!

About the author

Sandra Melo
Sandra Melo

Share on

Did you like this article?

Subscribe to our newsletter and we’ll send you content like this directly to your inbox, once a month with all the news.