Design factors influenced by the method of producing a stock of forms

Most Government forms used on a large scale are letterpress printed, and particular types of forms, e.g. padded forms or carbon-coated forms, will always require a printing operation.

While printing gives the clearest and neatest means of reproduction it may not always be justified on the grounds of cost and a speedier means of reproduction may sometimes be required. The forms designer should be generally aware of the other processes available and the factors which govern their suitability.

The office type of offset-litho machine can sometimes be used for the production of forms more cheaply and expeditiously than letterpress printing.

A large number of copies can be produced from one master and various papers can be used including those having a surface suitable for written entries. More than one colour may be produced on the form but each requires a separate printing operation.

Compared with letterpress printing the main disadvantages of the offset-litho process are:

  1. Since the typewriter is the main instrument used the range of type faces and sizes etc. is limited (this is so even if a Varityper is available).
  2. The scope for good layout is reduced.
  3. The effect of (1) and (2) is that the form tends to be larger than if printed.
  4. ‘Finishing’ operations, e.g. folding, perforations etc. cannot always be undertaken in the reproduction unit concerned.

Stencil methods. The stencil duplicator may occasionally be suitable for the departmental production of very simple forms not used in large quantities.

However, the paper which must be used is generally heavier than is needed for printed forms, and the range of paper sizes is limited so that there is often waste in production.

The forms also tend to be larger than if printed. If semi-absorbent paper is used, the surface is not suitable for pen and ink entries; non-absorbent duplicating ‘A’ paper may be used if pen and ink entries are required but production of the form takes longer.

Stencils may be obtained on which the framework of the form and the major captions can be pre-cut—in type resembling printed matter. Sometimes it is quicker to produce certain straightforward internal forms in this manner, e.g. forms which require the periodical entry of statistical data.

Type-set rotary duplicators can produce letterpress, but no more than six channels of type per inch can be set up unless special blocks are made. This process is useful for printing on cards etc. of letterheadings and the overprinting of additional matter on a printed form.