Word forms for collecting information: the Case of the Data Input Lawyers

A publishing house, a law firm, and an international organization had come together to produce a digest of legal cases. The publishers had made a very simple Word form which proved difficult to use and carried out no data verification. There was also no provision to output any data that anyone had finally managed to put into it. Not surprisingly, the project wasn't running well.

What was achieved

 

The lawyers were provided with really usable Word forms. A certain level of verification in the forms ensured that they would be filled in more or less logically. Whenever people got themselves into a muddle during the process of collecting and entering the data, we were available to quickly put them back on track. Once the data had been entered, we wrote a number of routines to collect the data from the forms, analyse and collate it, flag inconsistencies, and output to a number of large Word tables ready for the typesetter.

What it took

 

Layout and structure of the forms had to be decided and this is easier when you have something to play with, when you can see what you're doing. We took things one step at a time and got together more than once. For example, when it was discovered how many pages of the publication one particular table would actually occupy, this table was quickly discarded. Only when the final result was agreed by all was it sent off to be typeset.