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

Paper Survey Forms - Not Dead Yet!

Posted by Gary Wilson on Sep 24, 2013 8:32:00 AM

While not as widely used as they once were, mail and other paper surveys as scannable machine-readable forms still provide, in many cases, a reliable and cost-effective means of data collection. Thanks to online technology and some other factors, mail and paper surveys are used less frequently today than they were previously. Paper based surveys, however, still have their place in survey research and always will. Nevertheless, continued advances in online survey technology may increasingly diminish the demand.

Benefits of using paper surveys

·         Mail surveys are convenient for respondents; they can complete them when and where they prefer

·         Easily inserted into other customer or marketing mailing

·         With customization, some people feel paper surveys offer a more personal approach

·         Bulk-rate postage, automated mail preparation, large-quantity printing, and printing paper are all relatively affordable for document distribution with direct mailing services

·         Provide an efficient and often the only way of targeting opinions from populations without internet access, email addresses or phone numbers, or who refuse to respond to other types of surveys

·         Easily distributed to customers post transaction such as hotel or restaurant visits,  training seminars, conferences, etc.

·         Allow those being surveyed the chance to think about their answers in their own time

Designing, printing and processing machine readable paper surveys

Designing, producing and processing paper surveys have evolved and users of these types of survey instruments have a variety of different options available. Companies such as Scantron, Survey Systems, Data Blocks, etc. provide software applications that enable users to design and print their surveys as customized machine-readable documents. The surveys can be designed to be read by the traditional OMR (optical mark recognition), Scantron type devices or off-the-shelf image scanners which most organizations own. These software applications also create scanning templates; information passed to the scanning devices that determine respondents' choices to quantitative questions. Some of these software products also capture images of respondent free hand comments to subjective questions as well.

Machine-readable customize scan form survey–OMR technology versus Image technology

The major difference between a customized scannable survey designed for one technology or the other technology is the amount of content (survey questions, responses, demographics, etc.) that can be accommodated on a standard sheet of paper. The following are images of surveys designed based on the type of scanning technology that will be used to read these machine-readable forms:

 

survey documents

 

As seen in the examples shown above, a survey document designed for OMR scanning can accommodate a much larger amount of information on a smaller sheet of paper and still be accurately read during the scanning process using OMR scanners.

WHAT SURVEY SYSTEMS CAN DO FOR YOU?

Researchers, analysts, social scientists and individuals involved in gathering data, analyzing, reporting and making recommendations like most people have a fixed amount of time that they can devote to any given survey project. Survey Systems can offer these individuals a wide range of different products and services that would enable them 100% control of the entire data collection process or to selectively use Survey Systems to provide various levels of services.

One of the decisions that would need to be made is the type of technology (OMR or Image) that would best fit the requirements of the project. In most cases, this decision is tied directly to the amount of information individuals are looking to collect. Simple surveys (small number of questions, responses, etc.) without dense demographic fields (i.e. membership ID numbers, dates, vital statistics, etc.) can best be addressed with surveys designed for image scanning. Surveys requiring large demographic fields (machine-readable name and address fields, ID numbers, etc.) are best served using surveys designed for OMR scanning.

Software Option

Survey Systems provides and supports software products that address both technologies; the Magenta Suite is based on OMR technology and the Concord Suite is based on image technology. Both of these products will allow individuals to control the entire process from survey design through production, scanning and data transmission. In some situations and depending on a survey project requirements, data can also be tabulated and various types of anaylsis reports created within both the Magenta and Concord applications.

Service Option

Another decision is your level of involvement in the entire survey process. Using your input on survey content, Survey Systems can design the document for either type of scanning, print the survey, distribute the surveys, process completed surveys, send you scanned results or tabulate scanned data into reports that meet your specifications. A detailed description of each of these service components associated with most survey projects can be provided upon receipt of the project specifications.

Summary

Paper survey documents will continue to have a place within the survey industry on many data collection projects that do not, for a variety of reasons, lend themselves to online or other forms of electronic data collection. Survey Systems can help you define and implement a paper based survey program that will meet your objectives in the most cost effective manner.

 

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Topics: OMR customized form, custom scan form, survey form, customized survey form