Apply Yourself! How to Fill Out Forms

What You Need:

  • Pencil
  • Pen
  • Application or form(s) to fill out

What You Do:

  1. Have him read the instructions aloud, and discuss them with him to make sure he understands.
  2. Then tackle one box at a time. Have him first write everything in pencil, because he may either make a mistake or write too large for the boxes, and will need to erase and start over.
  3. The information required on applications will vary, but there are a few things he should learn to do on all of them. (See below.)
  4. He can copy everything over in blue or black pen once he’s finished.


Be sure he gets used to writing his full name on applications: Timothy, not Tim; Christopher, not Chris. Tell him that whenever he does anything official or professional — applications, business letters, standardized tests — he needs to use his full name. Many applications will ask for a middle initial as well.


This may sound silly, but do make sure he knows his birthdate. Also, help him determine what format the application asks for: it will often indicate something like “mmddyy” or “mmddyyyy.” Help him recognize that “mm” means a 2-digit month: 01 for January; 11 for November. By the same token, “dd” means a 2-digit day: 02, 09, 25. If it asks for “yyyy,” he should write his full year of birth: 1996. If it asks for “yy,” he should only write the last two digits of the year: 96.


If he hasn’t already memorized his address, now is the time to do it. Teach him how to write it properly.

Line one is the street number, street name (capitalized), and the proper abbreviation: St., Dr., Rd., Blvd. Line two is the city (capitalized), a comma, the two-letter state code (both letters capitalized) and the zip code. For example:

25 Larkin St.

San Francisco, CA 94123


Finally, most applications require a signature. Show him your signature and samples of others so that he gets an idea of what a signature should look like. His name simply written in cursive is good, although he can get a little creative if he likes. Now’s the time to think outside the box!

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