Survey Systems Blog

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

The Basics of OMR Technology - Is It Greek to You?

Posted by Nicole Cordie on Feb 1, 2013 4:19:00 PM

I’m sure most anyone reading this has probably filled out a Scantron-type form at some point in their education, but for those who might be looking to use an OMR form for a survey or test, this article will provide a little background on what OMR technology is and how it works.

Created by IBM in the 1930s, the first OMR sensor was not turned into a successful OMR test scoring device until 1962. In the early 1970s, Scantron Corporation made OMR scanning equipment for schools, to standardize test scoring procedures. OMR scanners are now available for use in many areas, including education, industry, government, research, healthcare, etc.

What is OMR?

Optical Mark Recognition (OMR) is high speed data capture using a sensor light to detect marks on paper survey forms and tests. The OMR scanner has a read head comprised of 48 sensors, which shine onto the form paper. Marks are detected because they are less reflective than the unmarked areas of the paper. This technology is a very fast and accurate way to translate marks on paper into electronic data. OMR scanners can process between 1,500 and 10,000 sheets per hour. Scanners can be configured to read one side of a sheet at a time, or two sides at once (in one pass through the device).  

What is an OMR Form?

An OMR form is created by laying out survey or test information using specific parameters that insure the bubbles on the form align with the sensors on an OMR scanner. A grid system which usually spans 48 columns across the width of a page, and between 53 and 80 rows from the top to bottom of the page, is used to create OMR forms. All OMR forms have a timing mark track running down one side of the page. The timing mark track passes under the first column sensor on a scanner, and indicates the location of the “bubble rows” on a page. Usually, special form design software, such as Data Blocks Magenta is used to design OMR forms. This special software automatically places timing marks and bubbles on the page in proper alignment.

OMR Forms

After a form is designed consistently to conform to the OMR parameters, it must also be printed in such a way that the spacing and positioning of the bubbles and timing marks is maintained. An OMR form which is not printed accurately will not give accurate results when scanned. If the bubbles are out of position, the fixed light sources of the scanner will not see the filled in marks.

How Does an OMR Scanner Work?

OMR scanners are driven using scanning software, such as Remark Classic OMR, or ScanTools. Using the scanning software, a template is created to map out the X and Y coordinates of the bubbles, and to assign a value to each bubble. Once the scanning template is completed, the forms are placed in the scanner's input hopper. Rollers pull the forms through the scanner, one at a time. As each form passes under the read head lights, the scanner tells the software which bubbles were filled in by the respondent. When the OMR form passes through the scanner, the read head lights within the scanner detect the filled in bubbles, and a predetermined value is returned for each filled in bubble. The "scanned results" can then be exported to any number of formats, such as Excel or Access. The sheet falls into the output hopper, and the next sheet is pulled through.

OMR Forms scanner resized 600


Is OMR Technology the Best Way to Collect the Data I Need? 

There are several things to consider when evaluating which type of technology to use for your project. OMR is best suited to surveys or tests with multiple choice type answers. If you have a lot of open ended questions that require hand written responses, this might not be the best fit for your project. If, on the other hand, your suvey or test is mostly multiple choice items in which the respondent chooses one or more responses, then OMR technology is a great way to get responses from paper into electronic format. Unsure about which survey methodology is best for your project? Contact us. We can look at your survey content and recommend the technology that will best work for your project! 

Let Us Show You How Your Data Collection Form Would Look as an OMR Form!

Send your survey questions to Survey Systems, and we will show you what it would look like in OMR format. We'll design a free, one page sample for you.  

 Get a Free OMR Sample  Form Design!

Topics: OMR scan form, scantron form, scan form design

School Climate Survey - OMR Scanned Forms!

Posted by Gary Wilson on Jan 4, 2013 4:55:00 PM


School District Climate Survey – OMR Scanned Forms!

Many school districts place a very high degree of value on regularly obtaining input from their stakeholders such as parents, students and staff concerning their opinions and perceptions of a school climate. School climate generally refers to the social andSchool Climate Survey environmental factors that contribute to one’s objective experience of a school and attitudes toward a school. Positive school climate reflects well-managed classrooms, high and clearly stated expectations concerning individual responsibility, feeling safe at school, and teachers and staff that consistently acknowledge all students and fairly address their attitude and behavior. Input from the stakeholders is periodically and routinely collected by conducting surveys of these groups. These surveys cover topics of safety, communication, diversity, student learning and performance. 

Virginia School District

Once again and for the seventh consecutive year, Survey Systems has been awarded the contract to provide OMR custom scan forms to one of the largest school districts in the state of Virginia. This school district annually seeks input from parents, students and staff in order to measure how these stakeholders view the climate within the school district. It believes that a healthy school climate will definitely contribute to the achievement of all of its students. The climate surveys are designed to gather opinions from parents, students and staff concerning their perceptions of school climate. The 2013 climate surveys are to be administered to nearly 58,000 elementary to high school level students, 3,800 staff, and 47,000 parents. An online survey component will be implemented to survey 3,500 teacher and other instructional personnel.

Survey Systems’ participation with the school district in support of their annual division-wide survey project has evolved over the past few years. Initially, and using their input, we reformatted their surveys (different surveys for each of the stakeholder groups) into OMR customized scan forms which were then printed and packaged. Prior to packaging, each survey was individually personalized with the name of the school and a machine-readable school ID number; information consider critical to the success of the survey project that is captured during the scanning process of completed surveys and is used to accurately identify survey responses back to specific schools. In 2012, Survey Systems will print the 2013 surveys directly from scan form design files created by the school district and will personalize each survey prior to shipment with school identification information. Even though most of the completed surveys will be sent back to Survey Systems for processing, we have been contracted to develop the scanning templates that would enable the district to scan their own surveys if and when required.

School Climate Surveys

Survey Systems has worked with other school districts in support of their school climate survey projects. Our support activities in most cases mirror those provided to the Virginia school district but with some notable distinctions. Survey projects with large school districts in Massachusetts and Minnesota also included a direct mail component; survey documents were mailed directly to parents and completed surveys mailed directly back to either the school district or Survey Systems for processing. 

OMR scanned forms for conducting school climate surveys have proven in many districts to be a better alternative than attempting to collect this information via the Internet. It is easier and more effective with less schedule disruption and a faster turn around time to have all students complete an omr scannable climate survey on paper in a classroom environment.  The alternative would be scheduling time for all students to complete the survey in the school computer lab over some extended period of time.

Collecting climate survey data from parents using OMR customized scanned forms has been proven to be most effective as measured by response rates. Parents in most school district tend not to respond to a notification to log on to a specific URL in order to complete a survey. There is a higher probability that the parents will complete a survey if the documents is handed to them by either their child or when visiting the school for teacher conferences, PTA meetings, etc.

The school district in Virginia has continued to utilize our services to support the annual school climate survey project. Each year for the past seven years, Survey Systems has been awarded the contract to provide our services through a competitive bid situation. We have been able to streamline our processes, provide competitive prices for our services and meet their tight deadlines for providing and processing OMR scan forms for their school climate project. This experience, working with other school districts with different requirements, will enable us to provide the same types of services to support their climate or other types of survey projects with competitive prices, accurate data and shorter lead-times.



Topics: OMR scan form, custom scan form, scan form design, omr form design, omr scanner