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How to use scannable sheets
How to use scannable sheets

Scannable sheets minimize the time needed to enter data collected during a phone bank or door knock. The sheet can be scanned and imported.

Updated over a week ago

📌 Note: Walksheets are available as an add-on in the political bundle. For more information on adding new features please see the add-ons page in your nation.

Table of Contents

Where to start

Scannable sheets minimize the time needed to enter data collected during a phone bank or door knock. The entire sheet is scanned and imported to your nation. The sheets are processed using optical mark recognition (OMR). To use scannable sheets, you'll need a multiple choice survey, a list of people to contact, and a scanner. 

The multiple choice survey should reflect all questions to be asked during a door knock or phone call. When answering multiple choice questions, you can only select one response option, so make sure to design your survey with this in mind.

⚠️ It is extremely important to finalize the questions and response options before printing sheets.

You need to make sure no one edits the survey after scannable sheets are printed. Previously printed sheets cannot be used if the survey is modified.

If your survey contains open-ended questions, those will be skipped and will not be included in the scannable sheet. For clarity, it is best to create a survey that only contains multiple choice and yes / no questions. A scannable sheet can accommodate up to five questions and each question can have up to six response options. 

📌 Sheets will not be generated if you use a survey with more than five questions or if any question has more than six response options.

Add your target audience to a list

Define the geography for your door knock, or the universe of people for a phone bank and add them to a list. If you can create a separate list for each phone banker or canvass team, you'll be able to easily record the person who contacted the list.

Create and print scannable sheets

To start, create or edit a list.

1. Go to Print sheets > Stock themes. The scannable sheet themes are listed at the bottom of the page.

You can choose between a scannable walk sheet or a scannable call sheet. Walk sheets will be sorted by address. If you choose to split odd/even, the odd addresses will be separated from the even addresses. This makes it easier for a person to knock on all doors on one side of the street before going to the other side of the street.

2. Choose a theme and click Use this theme - it will then change to "Currently active."

3. Go to Prints sheets > Download sheet.

4. Choose a survey from the dropdown menu. 

5. Click the Generate sheet button. 

Two things will happen immediately. A system message will display at the top of the control panel letting you know the sheet is being generated.

All previously generated sheets area will appear below the Generate sheet button. Refresh the page. It may take longer for scannable sheets to be generated than other sheets.

6. Click on the Download button to download your sheets.

7. Click on Cover page to open a cover page for your sheets. The cover sheet includes the list of questions, response options, and a guide to contact status abbreviations.

Phone bank or door knock

The cover page for your sheets can be provided as instructions. You can also give your canvassers more context around what you're trying to accomplish and provide talking points, explaining the campaign's position on relevant issues. Role-playing before volunteers interact with the target audience can help explain the process to new volunteers. 

Questions are listed left to right for each contact. A column represents the possible responses to one survey question. For example, here is the listing for one contact on a scannable walk sheet:

Survey responses should be recorded during the conversation to ensure responses are marked accurately. To select a response option, mark the box with an X. You can also use a checkmark. Make sure the mark does not enter another answer box. 

If you select the wrong response option, or make a stray mark within a box, completely fill in the box. You can then select the correct response option as described above.

In addition to marking responses, you can select a contact status to indicate if a conversation occurred and whether or not it was successful. The status abbreviations on your scannable sheet have the following meanings:

  • An = Answered

  • BI = Bad info

  • In = Inaccessible

  • LM = Left message

  • MI = Meaningful interaction

  • NI = Not interested

  • NA = No answer

  • Re = Refused

  • SI = Send information

  • O = Other

Choose one contact status per person and mark the box to the left of the abbreviation with an 'X' or a checkmark. 

After knocking onJulie Jones' door and talking with her, here's how I indicated her responses:

As you can see, the type of mark in a box does not have to be perfect for the response to be recorded. 

Each sheet includes space for recording contact with ten people. Page breaks occur based on the scannable sheet theme chosen. For example, walk sheets split odd/even will display odd-numbered addresses on one page and even-numbered addresses on a separate page. Therefore, your sheets may include rows without contact information. Do not record anything in these sections.

Scan sheets

Once a phone bank or door knock is completed, scan the sheets. You'll need to use a scanner that can produce a 300 dpi resolution scan. NationBuilder does not have specific scanner brand recommendations. Most scanners, whether stand-alone, or attached to a printer, can produce these files. Your scan should include pages from just one generated sheet

📌 Sheets must be scanned as monochrome, 300 dpi TIFF files.

While these specifications may not be options directly on your scanner, it is possible to use separate software and control the output of your scanner.

If you are using a Mac, open Image Capture. In the show details screen, set the following:

  • Kind: Text

  • Resolution: 300 dpi

  • Format: TIFF 

Whether you are on a PC or a Mac, you can use VueScan to create a monochrome 300 dpi TIFF.

  • In the Input menu, set Media to Text.

  • In the Color menu, keep the threshold at 0.5

  • In the Output menu, set File type to TIFF

Regardless of how you are scanning your sheets, do not do any image corrections. You'll need to scan the sheets in portrait layout, but do not rotate the sheets or do any other editing after you scan them. The importer will read the pages correctly if the sheets are scanned right-side up or upside-down, though not if the sheets are scanned sideways. 

You can check to make sure your file has the right properties before uploading it to your nation.

On a Mac, open the file in Preview. Then click Command + I.

  • The depth listed for your file should be 1 - this indicates the file is monochrome (black is the only color in the file). Even though the color model may say Gray, the depth indicates whether or not it is monochrome.

  • Confirm that the DPI height and DPI width are listed as 300 dpi.

  • Make sure the document type is TIFF.

On a PC, right click on the file, which will open up the file properties.

  • In the General tab, you can confirm that the type of file is TIFF image.

  • Click on the Details tab and scroll down until you see Bit depth. It should say 1.

  • Horizontal resolution and vertical resolution should be 300 dpi.

Import sheets

Go to People > Imports.

1. Select Scanned survey import.

2. Define the contact method and person who did the contacting.

  • You must define both aspect options before you will be able to upload a file.

  • Contact method is how the person was contacted. There are seventeen pre-defined options which cannot be edited. You'll probably select door knock or phone call from this drop-down menu.

  • Person who did the contacting for these sheets indicates one person who contacted the list. If a team of people canvassed together, select a single person from this drop-down. Do not import the same sheets twice to record both members of a team as this will record two contacts in a person's profile when only one was made. If you are importing sheets from multiple phone bankers or door knockers, we recommend assigning the contacts to the lead organizer of the canvass.

3. Click on the Select files to upload button. This button will appear after the contact method and contacter are defined.

4. Select your 300 dpi monochrome TIFF file from the open file dialog box and click Open. Your sheets will begin to import.

5. A previously scanned imports section will appear and your file will be listed as processing. You can refresh the page to see the status of the import. Depending on the number of pages in your file, it may take a while for your import to complete. The import is uploaded to your nation, the file settings are confirmed, the file is sent through our optical mark recognition (OMR) process, and then the contacts and survey responses are recorded in your nation. Once all of these steps are completed, the import status will change to finished.

As a reminder, each scanned survey import can only include pages from one generated sheet. Repeat the above steps for each generated sheet. 

Review results

There are a few ways to review how the scanned sheets are recorded in your nation.

All contacts and survey responses will be listed in your nation's dashboard activity stream. The contact will be listed on the profile of the contacter and person contacted. It will be in the format "Contacter contacted person via contact method. Contact status."

Individual survey responses will be listed in the person contacted's profile activity stream. Here is an example from C.J.'s profile:

If you click on the word "answered" in the above statement, you'll be able to edit C.J.'s response to the question. "Animal" is the slug for the survey question - clicking on that word takes you to an overview of all responses received for the question.

All contacts and responses will be recorded as happening at the time the sheets were imported. 

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