How to print on pre-printed forms using Excel

How to print on pre-printed forms using Excel

Have you ever found yourself with a pre-printed form that needs to be filled in?

Using a typewriter is out of the question. One solution is a template that you can use and reuse to print the required information on the forms properly. Following are specific steps on how to print on pre-printed forms by creating a template in Excel and using the columns and rows as guidelines.

To print a pre-printed form using Excel, you’ll use the following:

  • Excel guide worksheet – includes a grid
  • Excel template – includes text boxes

You will then follow these steps to print on your pre-printed form using Excel:

    1. Make copies of the original form

      Make several copies of the pre-printed form paying attention as to how the original form will be fed in your printer. The form 1099-Misc Copy A, for instance, doesn’t fill the entire standard printer feeding tray and must be inserted a different way, including using one side of the feeder only. So, any copies should take that into consideration. The idea is to use copies as tests before printing to the original form.

      pre-printed form step 1
    2. Create a guide worksheet in Excel

      Open Excel and write letters to columns and numbers to lines so that when the form is printed it can be used as a guideline or guide worksheet. Usually, a standard letter sized page goes up to column J and row 47. The idea is to use the standard size of columns and lines to show where to input data precisely. To this end, the cells should all be the same size to create the standard to be used and reused. If one cell is bigger or smaller than another, the guide worksheet cannot be used easily. Keep it simple and standard.

      how to print on pre-printed form step 2
    3. Add gridlines to the guide worksheet

      Since you may be able to re-use this file as you go through this project or others, so you may wish to print this guide worksheet several times to have it handy when required. As the cells need to be visible on paper, this file should have outlines on all cells, or be set up to print with gridlines.

      To create outlines on all cells, click on the boarder icon on the top left side – to the right of the bold, italics and underline icons, and then choose “All Borders.”

      (Click on the document image to see it more clearly.)
      how to print on pre-printed forms step 3-1

    4. Choose the option to print with gridlines

      Using “Page Setup” choose the option to print with gridlines. Make sure there is a check mark in the box under “Print” near Gridlines.

      (Click on the document image to see it more clearly.)
      print on pre-printed form step 3-2

    5. Print your Excel guide worksheet

      Print the guide worksheet you created using Excel.

    6. Look for shadows and mark fields

      Hold the guide worksheet (you created using Excel) on top of the pre-printed form and then place it against a light (very low tech).  This could be against a lamp, a window with lots of natural sunlight, or a computer screen.

      Handwrite words and fields where data is supposed to be filled out (very low tech too). See the picture of a guide worksheet in front with comments and the 1099-Misc Copy A behind it.  Since position is important, be sure both pages align – all four corners should be together.

      how to print on pre-printed forms step 4
    7. Open a new document in Excel to be used as a template

      Start a new blank worksheet in Excel with no outlines, nothing set up. The idea is to start a new file with standard default settings to be used as a template that can be reused if needed.

      (Click on the document image to see it more clearly.)
      how to print on pre-printed forms step 5

    8. Insert text boxes

      Create text boxes to match the comments locations on the guide worksheet and enter information such as name, and address. If a comment was made on the guide worksheet on line 3, column C, for instance, you create a text box within this location and write in the actual data.

      To add text boxes, go to the “Insert” tab from the top menu bar. Choose the “text box” icon on the right. Then point to the area where you want the text box created and click enter.

      (Click on the document image to see it more clearly.)
      how to print pre-printed form text box

    9. Adjust the text boxes to match the guide worksheet

      Move the text boxes around, change their sizes, and adjust them to match the guide worksheet you created using Excel as closely as possible. Be sure there are no outlines around the text boxes.  Here you can see a sample template after the data was inserted. Note that the data shown here is fictitious and for sample purposes only.

      (Click on the document image to see it more clearly.)
      print pre-printed form step 6-2

    10. Test the template

      Insert one of the copies of the pre-printed form (in this case the copy of your 1099-Misc) in your printer as the next page to print. Print the template. If all fields are filled out correctly, fabulous!

      If the template doesn’t print correctly, adjust it and reprint on another copy of the pre-printed form. Do this as many times as needed to make sure the text boxes align correctly.

      how to print on pre-printed forms step 7
    11. Print the template on the original pre-printed form

      Align the form the same way you did for the copies in the printer feeder. It’s a good idea to have several original forms available so you can fix fields if they’re still off. Here is an example of a 1099 filled out using the guide and template presented here using fictitious information.

      how to print on pre-printed form step 8

      You may be wondering why to use text boxes and not just write straight into Excel.  It’s because when you move a line up or down in Excel, the entire page changes, and it’s a challenge to keep all text aligned correctly. Text boxes are much more flexible as you can move them separately and when you adjust one, it doesn’t affect the others.  Once you set up text boxes on a page, it’s easy to change the information, such as amounts, names or addresses without having to re-do all the work.  So, save your templates in a special file on your computer with names you can easy identify.


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