Before mixing any cement, it is necessary to construct forms. Masonry forms have nothing to do with obtaining more permits or making out your tax return. Forms are, rather, a kind of Jell-O mold for your cement. The cement is poured into the mold and "formed" into the desired shape. It won't come out as pretty as your mother's strawberry three-layer fruit cocktail Jell-O, but it will be functional.
Form building is the first bit of real carpentry you will have a chance to do. It is good practice because it doesn't matter how poorly this job is performed. The poured footing will be 36 to 48 inches underground when you are done; no one is ever going to know what it looks like until you are dead and buried or have a leak in the main sewage drain and have to slither into the crawl-space with a flashlight and insect spray. In either case, you won't care what the footing looks like.
You will find that a footing can't get far out of hand as long as the trench has been dug to the proper dimensions. If you followed the precise instructions in Chapter 6, there will be no problems.
Before constructing the forms, clear the trench of dirt from the latest cave-in. Build the forms along the bottom of the trench. Place stakes in the ground and nail plywood to these. (Here is another place you can use some of the old wood you tore from the house during demolition.) To make certain the poured cement is distributed properly, draw a line on the forms at the height at which you want the top lip of the poured foundation.