Survey Systems Blog

Magenta® for OMR Form Design

Posted by Jackie Jones on Apr 10, 2014 11:42:00 AM

Image Scan vs. OMR Scan Technology

In the past, I have touted the value of the Concord® software by Data Blocks as a cost effective and easy-to-use tool for creating and scanning surveys or questionnaires. It is a great tool for creating image scan documents. However, image scanning may not always meet the needs of your data collection project. Image scanning is cost effective for smaller projects where limited amounts of data are required. The design requirements for image scanning (such as 1/4” between bubbles and 3/8” between any bubble and text) limits the number of questions that can fit onto a page.  

If the survey or questionnaire has a lot of questions or information fields, OMR (Optical Mark Recognition) scanning is a more desirable format to use. OMR format allows for more content (questions) on a single sheet, reducing the printing costs and increasing the speed of data capture. OMR scanning uses timing marks along the side of the form to identify the position of response bubbles. 

Magenta software, Scantron form design


The form design must be very precise because if a timing mark and a response bubble don’t align properly, the response will not be recorded. This is why form design is so critical in the OMR process. Great news:

Magenta Software, Scantron form design software

Magenta® for OMR Form Creation

Data Blocks has a great tool for creating the OMR scannable forms: Magenta. In Magenta, the EZ Form Design Wizard adds the timing marks, links the required fields, and adds the response bubbles for you. It is very intuitive software—takes the work out of forms design, because it does the work for you! Magenta knows all of the rules and standards, and applies them as you create your form. Questions can be either entered directly into the Wizard, or cut and pasted from other word processing programs (uses real Windows” commands). Editing is just as easy, for example, if you find that questions have not been entered in the order desired, simply click and drag the questions to the appropriate place—that easy! Or, using the control button and the arrows, items can be moved a pixel at a time to the desired position. Magenta even automatically numbers the questions for you! It’s so easy. Within a very short time, you can have a very professional looking OMR form ready for printing. These forms can then be printed on a laser printer. Using the Magenta software, your survey/questionnaire can be ready to distribute within a day, rather than weeks.

 This tutorial video shows how EZ it is!

The Magenta software is integrated with Remark® Classic OMR scanning/reporting/scoring software. After the form design is completed and saved, a scanning template can be generated in Magenta for the Remark Classic. If you have not done so, verify that the output order is in the order that you want. You are now ready to scan the completed surveys or questionnaires and collect your data. The Remark software offers a number of report formats to present your data; and the ability to import the data to various other programs (Excel, Access, SPSS, etc.) to create your own reports. The Magenta Suite (which includes the Remark Office OMR software) is a very user-friendly tool for your data collection project.

Organizations looking to design and/or print their data collection forms in house should consider the Magenta Suite. Click the button below to download a free demonstration copy of Magenta. You will be amazed at how easy it is to create your own scannable forms!


Download Magenta Demo



Topics: scantron form, survey form, omr scanner, form design software

OMR Form Design...Let's Get Graphic!

Posted by Lynn Cunningham on Jan 3, 2014 12:59:00 PM

Custom Scan Form Design

Go for the Sharpest Image on Your Survey Form

One of the best ways to give your survey form a polished, professional look is by adding a logo or other graphic image. When adding a logo or graphic, it is very important to use the right kind and quality of image. A fuzzy, low resolution image will produce the opposite result, giving your form an unprofessional look and feel.  

Join the Resolution Revolution!

The quality of graphic images depends on the image resolution, or the number of dots per inch (dpi). The more "dots" the better the image quality, so it is important to start with an image with more dots per inch. Resizing or scaling your graphic image will likely degrade the quality appearance of your logo or graphic.  

Survey Form Printing      Scan Form Design      OMR Form Printing

As you can see from the examples above, these images get fuzzier as they are enlarged. You can always zoom in on the image on your computer screen to get a better idea of the quality of your image. (An easy way to do this is to hold the Control Key down on your keyboard and hit the "+" key several times. To zoom out, hold down the Control Key and hit the "-"symbol.) If an image looks fuzzy when you zoom in, chances are it will look fuzzy when inserted onto a printed form.

OMR Form Printing–What Graphics Format Works?

If you are creating your own OMR survey form using a software such as Data Blocks Magenta or Scantron's DesignExpert™, you can add images or logos to your design as long as the image is in a bitmap image format. In the printing industry, there are two basic types of graphic images. The first type is a bitmap, also known as a "raster" image. A bitmap could be one of many file types (.bmp, .jpeg, .gif, etc.) Bitmap images are:

  • Made up of pixels in a grid. Tiny dots of color come together to form the image. When you zoom in on a bitmap image, you can see the dots as squares of color hooked together.

  • Always square or rectangular. If your logo is an oval shape, it will be an oval within a rectangular frame when it is in bitmap image format.

  • A solid block of color (or white). No part of a bitmap image is transparent or see through. For printing purposes, a bitmap cannot be color separated. This means it must be printed in one color (i.e., all black, all red) or converted to grayscale. 

The other format of graphic image used in the print industry is a vector image. A vector image is made up of individual shapes and/or text. Each shape in a vector image can be edited independently. A vector format image will usually have an .eps file extension. Vector images are:

  • Made up of individual elements, such as shapes, lines and text. Each element can be edited by without affecting other elements.

  • Can be any shape or size and is not resolution dependent. This format of graphic is always very sharp looking and is not confined to a rectangular shape.

  • Most important from a printer's perspective, a vector or .eps image can be color separated for printing. Elements can be assigned exact and multiple colors.

  • Vector images can be converted to bitmap format for use on web surveys or for use in form design software.

Click here to see examples of a graphic in different formats.


Getting Graphic–Summing it Up

In my opinion, a bad or fuzzy graphic image should never appear on your form! Only add images that are high quality and that enhance the appearance and effectiveness of the document. Most OMR form design software has severe limitations when it comes to adding good quality graphics to the forms you design. Always use the highest resolution graphic image you can get your hands on. For even better results, have your OMR form printing company help. A printing professional can use graphics software to really make your survey form sing! 

OMR Form Design, Form Printing, Scantron Forms

Topics: scan form design, customized survey form, OMR printing, form design software

Scannable Forms Design Easy with Concord®

Posted by Jackie Jones on Mar 20, 2013 4:47:00 PM


DATA BLOCKS offers a great software package that works hand in hand with Remark Office OMR® called Concord (or the Concord Suite). This software allows the user to easily create/design test and survey forms that are “plain paper” and scannable on image scanners. The Concord Suite has potential of substantial cost savings for anyone wanting to engage in data collection and analysis.

Cost Savings:

Scantron forms are “read” by optical mark recognition scanners (OMR), using specially designed machine-readable data capture software. OMR scanners are specially designed to detect and record which bubbles are marked on the bubble answer sheet. The OMR scanner has that single use, to only scan the specially designed and printed scannable forms. Although OMR scanning is very accurate, the forms design requires a trained forms or graphic designer, or special forms designer software like Magenta. If the timing marks and bubbles on the forms are not precise, the data cannot be “read” or detected. The scantron forms must be carefully designed and printed. These additional form requirements add extra time and costs to make sure the forms are printed properly. Copied OMR forms cannot be “read”, often time, the timing marks and answers are not detected at all.   Concord image scanner

Image scanners, on the other hand, are quite common—most of us have scanners (page, document, or flat bed scanners with an Automatic Document Feeder or ADF)—so no special purchase of dedicated equipment is required. The “plain paper” scantron forms can be scanned on most image scanners. Form design with the Concord product is relatively easy and can be completed “in house” by anyone with a little PC or word processing knowledge. Forms can be printed on your laser printer, or copied on your copier. This allows changes to be made quickly and as needed, and additional forms copied as required.

Once the forms are scanned (by either method), the data is collected and manipulated by the Remark® scanning, reporting and exporting data collection software. 

  scannable form designed using Concord software

Form Design:

As indicated above, the design of the OMR scannable form is precise and critical. There are rules for the image scannable forms design as well, but the Concord software makes it easy.

The Concord software EZ form wizard “knows” all of the rules and nuances for image scannable form design and incorporates them automatically into your form. To name a few:

  • Concord used special bubble fonts designed to meet the design requirements of Remark Office OMR and to make sure you have access to lots of different special characters in the bubbles that do not exist in regular fonts.

  • Allows 3 sizes (small, normal, large) of Circles, Ovals and Squares as bubbles.

  • Allows at least 3/8 inch between any text, lines or boxes and the bubbles.

  • Allows at least 1/4 inch between bubbles.

  • Makes shading, boxes and lines near bubbles very light.

  • Groups similar types of questions (true and false together, multiple choice together, etc.)

  • Uses special Barcode fonts with at least 3/8 inch whitespace around them. 

  • Allows at least 3/8 inch margin on all four sides of the form.


This tutorial video shows how EZ it is!


The EZ form wizard really simplifies the process. Simply answer a few questions in the wizard, and start entering your questions—or cut and paste the questions from other forms or a word processor (“real Windows" cut and paste). After leaving the wizard, using regular drawing tools, Concord also allows for graphics (logos), colors, and automatic numbering of questions. Concord has a Data Merge feature that allows for information to be taken from a file (variable data) and merged into the forms in the form of barcodes, bubble fields, (0-9 grids, A-Z grid, BCD or binary) or text data while the forms are being printed. Forms can also be serialized using this feature. Multi-language spell checker is even included. 

I downloaded the free software demo, and created a scannable form with true/false and Linkert questions in an afternoon. Quick and simple. I have no graphic design training, or any type of forms creation training what so ever. (We have experts here, I don't need to know how.) If I can do it, so can you!  


                                 Download a FREE  demo of Concord Software


Topics: scantron form, omr scanner, form design software