I just completed a large project developing custom medical forms for a client who treats allergy symptoms. There were ten forms totaling 14 pages. The project began when she handed me several Microsoft Word documents that contain the form content. Each form used different formats, fonts, and inconsistent headers and footers. Like many medical forms, her form fields were overcrowded and contained with small forms fields to center data clearly.
The first task was to create a form template so that I could use repeatable components for every form. Components like, standard headers, footers, fonts, paragraph styles and form fields. Second, I began developing the form layout and content. It took approximately 15 hours of development time. While that may seem like an expensive proposition, the long term benefits will soon out weight form development cost.
The short term benefits of a professionally developed form are consistent look and feel, promotes the business brand, esthetically pleasing, easy to read, and easy for people to fill-in-the-blanks.
The long term benefits are inexpensive updates because the design is complete and in template form. Modifying the existing content takes less time because a standard is identified. Also, adding new forms to your library is less expensive because much of the framework is already complete and many of the form fields designed.
One last note, I use Adobe InDesign to develop my forms. It is not a word processor, rather a page layout tool that has much better control over content and better graphic design capabilities.