Using the Forms
What is Formatta Filler?
Formatta Filler is the official forms program of the ELCA. Most ELCA forms are opened and completed using Filler. You can download this application by reviewing the information in the right hand panel of the “Call Process Forms
Note: To ensure successful submission of your forms, it is highly recommended that you use a Windows PC to save or submit your information electronically. The Mac version of Filler has limited support for electronic submission, encryption, and Remote signing. Please download and use the PC version of Filler if you intend to work with forms that involve these types of operations. Can I look at samples of the forms?
- Go to “Call Process Forms” page; look on the bottom of that page.
- Click on the form you wish to review. Four of the forms are opened with Formatta Filler, but the two Reference forms are opened with Adobe Reader. Note the different icons that denote the particular file format.
- The sample forms can be used as practice forms, printed for distribution, or used for training purposes. But the sample forms cannot be submitted to the database (the “submit” button has been deactivated). To get an active form, you must follow the directions to open an account and download the form.
What are “bubble tips”?
Many Formatta forms have bubble tips, which are short explanations that pop up when you click on a field or box and begin to enter information. You will miss these helpful hints if you have bubble tips turned off. To turn them on, go to “view” on the top menu bar of your Formatta Filler application. If, as you work on a form, you have finished reading the bubble tip or it is in your way, just hit “escape”.
Can’t the dropdown menus have more options?
Percentage, ranges, titles and other items in the dropdown menus may restrict your ability to nuance your answers or to indicate slight variations. But these menus do make it possible to sort, search, create snapshots and shortcuts. The best suggestion is this: use the dropdown menus to identify the range that best describes your setting (even if that means rounding to “0”) and then, if there is a need to refine and clarify, use the “Commentary” section of the form to explain further.
How do I submit a form?
Detailed instructions at the end of the MSP and RLP explain the steps:
- SAVE a copy of the form to your computer. Put it in a place (in a folder or on your computer’s desktop) where you can find it again later when you need it.
- PRINT a copy for your files. If you don’t want the form to print in color, select “grayscale” on the options on your printer.
- DATE the form for the date you are submitting the form.
- LOCK the form by giving a password. Then save the password somewhere.
- Make sure your computer is connected to the Internet.
- SUBMIT the form by clicking “submit”.
- The MDS scans the form to make sure key fields are filled in (certain fields cannot be left blank). If there are any fields missing, the MDS will flag them for you.
- On the RLP, this process includes checking to see that the Leader Key and four Social Security numbers (p. 1) have been locked separately.
- If the form passes these validation tests, the form is automatically transmitted to the ELCA database.
- You will receive an email confirming the transmission.
What is “versioning”?
The MDS is designed so that, if you submit a form that has since been revised and updated, the system will ask if you want to automatically upgrade to the newer version. Answer “yes” and the system will export the information on the old form to the new form and then ask you to review it before proceeding to submit it. Be sure to do the review inasmuch as the newer form may have added new questions that you will need to answer.
What if I have forgotten the password that I used?
Passwords cannot be retrieved. Sorry, but the whole point of passwords is to guarantee security.
Can I read what my reference wrote?
What is written on a reference form belongs to the person who wrote it. It is considered privileged information. If you would like to see what your outside reference wrote, ask the person who wrote it for a copy.
How “optional” are the Reflections forms, really?
There is no general requirement that these be completed, though some synods may request that certain questions be addressed. Use the Reflection forms when you feel you have a bigger story to tell and more ministry to share.
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