What is an online form?

 

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What is an online form?

A woman sits at a cafe with her laptop and a coffee with an online feedback form on the screen

What's coming up

In the past, filling in a form meant collecting a paper document, completing it and sending it off. Today, lots of forms are available online as convenient alternatives to paper forms.

In this activity, you'll find out about some of the different types of forms you might find online.

Start activity
A man looks at an online form on his tablet

Why go online?

Online forms are becoming very common. There are now lots of things you can apply for online. Job applications, car tax and pension benefits are just a few examples.

But why fill in a form online?

You can access an online form any time – you don't have to collect it or wait for the post. You can also submit it right away online, saving postage costs. And there's no risk of it getting lost on the way.

Many forms allow you to save your work so you don't have to finish it in one go, and lots of sites will send you a confirmation email or receipt so you know your form's been delivered.

Different types of form

Online forms can have different designs and layouts – but they all work in the same way.

Forms usually contain spaces into which you can either type text or select an answer from a choice of options. These spaces are called 'fields'.

Let's take a look at the main fields you might come across and how they work. You may have seen some of them before. Don't worry if they're all new to you – you'll explore them in more detail later in the course.

Text boxes

A text box is a blank field where you type details like your name, address, or password.

An example of a text box form that requests information like name, address and phone number
An example of a drop down box form where after you click a particular field, more options appear as a clickable menu below.

Drop-down lists

A drop-down field lets you choose an answer from a list of options rather than typing your own text.

Radio buttons

Radio buttons are another way of choosing from a list of options. They look like a small circle.

Example of radio buttons which are small circles that once selected, change colour to show what has been chosen.
Example of check boxes in a questionnaire which are small squares that once selected, contain a tick.

Checkboxes

Checkboxes are like radio buttons, but they are usually square rather than round. When you select an option it may show a tick, a cross or another image. Unlike a radio button, you can choose more than one option.

You can select the box again to deselect it and change your answer.

Knowing what to do

Don't worry if you haven't seen any of these before or if you're not sure how to use them. In this course you'll take a closer look at each one and have a go at using them yourself.

You may see forms that look different or are laid out differently to the ones you cover in the course. Don't worry about this – forms all work in the same way.

A computer screen containing a range of different types of forms that have previously been spoken about.
Shows someone filling in an online survey on their tablet

Congratulations!

Well done. You've come to the end of the What is an online form activity.

You've learnt what an online form is and why they're used.

In the next activity Filling in your details, you'll start by helping Barbara with text boxes.