I have some forms that have more than 20 fields. The acuracy of the data is important, so I am thinking of a "preview" of the captured data before actualy send it to the database.

As the final step the user can download a PDF with the data captured. So the user will see the data anyway.

But as the intended user is general public I have some fear that some users think they already send the form when clicking the first submit button, mostly on mobile devices.

I do not mind to have some data duplicated, for example if the form is sent on the first submit button, then the preview, and if something is not right, well the user can just go back and send again the form, but I rather skip the cleaning of the database.

So. A preview button or just skip to the pdf file?

Edited. Why a PDF? Becouse the people requesting the data actually need a paper copy for their files and it somehow need to be uniformly formated. A downloadable PDF is easier for someone that has no printer to save, and maybe print it later.

3 Answers 3


At first, I do not recommend the PDF issue. It will add more confusion if added to the data collecting form. It should be moved to another form if necessary, like "my profile" for example.

Secondly, the concept of "write the data, go back, edit it, resend , and duplication allowed" reflects a bad system design. If the data needs validation, then this validation should be made "on site", before leaving the form . So the correct model should be " receive data from user, validate, if pass then submit , else display error notification and return control to user".

So , my advice : no "download PDF" at data form, "check data" and "submit" buttons, either separate or integrated into a single "submit" button that validates.

  • I am not refering of validation. The validation is there. I am refering on having a preview to take a glimps as user before press send. Do users in general need a preview?
    – Rafael
    Commented Apr 26, 2016 at 3:44
  • In general : yes . But I think the preview goal is achived via the data fileds themselves, except if they are distributed over several forms. but if it is only one form for data entry, and nicely designed, it will serve the two purposes.
    – DrWael
    Commented Apr 26, 2016 at 4:04

What you could do is summarize the filled forms on the right side of the screen, in a window which scrolls along as you scroll down the form. See this form on a dutch website to get a visual of what I mean. It shows things you've selected or filled in, and you can also press "change info" in the windows once you've filled it in and have scrolled down.

What you could also do is create a confirmation screen or page. So at the end of the page, you don't press a button "submit", instead you'll be pressing a button called something along the lines of "check info" or "preview". Once the user is on this page, there will be a "submit" button to finalize the form. (this is also found in the previously linked form)

You could add an overview of the steps you'll be making in the form on the top of the screen, to make sure people will not be confused once they get into the second "check info" screen. You could also add this on the right side of the screen in the scrolling "overview" window I spoke about earlier.

Extra info about the form for those who aren't dutch: Through this form you can buy an educational course, therefore you have to fill in billing information. For that reason I advise not to fill in the complete form! I've just linked it as an example.


Having literally designed 100s of forms I have to agree with DrWael's answer - forget the downloaded PDF option. I also agree that the data shouldn't be written until it is ready to be written.

What I have found works very well in most cases is once the form is complete and ready for submitting, it should present the user with a confirmation screen. I usually have a couple of buttons on this screen, one allowing the user to edit the data if necessary, and one to confirm/submit the data as is.

Also, depending on the purpose of the form, I sometimes offer the user the option of having a copy of the data sent to them via email. If this is appropriate in your case, then you could have the data sent to them in PDF format if you wanted. Of course, this all depends on the nature of the data you're capturing. It may not be appropriate for the user to have a record, or for the data to be sent via email.

Hope this helps. Good luck with your form.

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