Creating Interactive PDF Forms in Adobe Acrobat
What is PDF Form?
PDF form is a special kind of PDF document that contains interactive fields where textual information can be entered or check boxes may be selected. You can create a PDF form from any PDF, word processor, image file or a paper document. You will need to add fields to the regular PDF document using form editing tools provided by Adobe Acrobat. PDF forms are widely used to collect or distribute various government and bussiness documents.
What are PDF Fields?
Fields are interactive elements where user can either type text or make a selection.
There are 8 basic field types:
  • Text Field - for entering textual and numeric information.
  • Check box - for making a single variable selection.
  • Radio buttons - for making a selection from a set of options.
  • List box - for making a selection from a list of options.
  • Dropdown list - for making a selection from a dropdown list of options.
  • Push button - for performing actions, such as submitting or printing the form.
  • Signature - for digitally signing documents.
  • Barcode - for displaying textual infomation using various barcode symbology.
How to Fill PDF Forms?
Manual filling: PDF forms can be filled manually using Adobe Acrobat Reader, Adobe Acrobat or any other compatible PDF viewer.
Automatic filling: Use mail merge tool such as AutoMailMerge plug-in for Adobe Acrobat to automatically produce multiple PDF documents by populating PDF form template from data files such as spreadsheet or database.
Preparing PDF Document
If you already have a PDF document you want to use as a template, then select “File > Open” menu and load document into Adobe Acrobat. Alternatively, create desired document in text editor (such as MS Word) and save it as PDF file. It is also possible to create a PDF document by scanning a paper document.
Adding PDF Fields
If you are using Acrobat DC, then open a PDF document, select "Tools" on the main toolbar and find "Prepare Form" tool.
Select Prepare Form tool
Double-click on the "Prepare Form" icon to open a PDF form editor. If a currently open document does not contain any form fields, then you would be prompted to either select an existing file or scan a paper document. Click "Start" button to use a currently open document:
Select a file or scan document to begin
Once a document is open in a form editor, click on "Add a text field" icon located on the top toolbar:
Select a Text Field tool
Move cursor to a page location where you want to place a text field. You would see a moving blue rectangle that represents a field. Press and hold left mouse button and drag a rectangle where you want to place a text field. You will be able to change field position and size at any time:
Once the text field is placed, you would be prompted to enter a field name (by default, all new fields are named Text1, Text2 and etc.):
If no changes required to default field properties, the press "Enter" button to save newly added field. Field name and properties can be changed at any time via "Properties" dialog. Press "All Properties" link or right-click on the field in the form editor and choose "Properties..." from the popup menu to access field's properties:
If you want to change text font or color, then select “Appearance” tab and use "Font Size" and "Font" menu to choose desired text appearance. Make sure that field is big enough to display a required number of characters while using selected font settings.
IMPORTANT: The resulting PDF file size can be greatly affected by selecting certain fonts. It is suggested to use one of the basic fonts to avoid file size increase. These fonts are listed at the top of the font list: Courier, Helvetica, and Times Roman.
If a text field needs to hold multiple lines of text, then select “Options” tab and check “Multi-line” option:
Make sure that text field is tall enough to show a required number of text lines. You can do that by either typing text into the field or specifying a default value:
Press "Close" button to finish adding the form field. The newly added field will apear in the "FIELDS" list on the right-hand side of the screen:
Repeat the above procedure for every field you need to add to this PDF document.
Make sure to exit form editor once done adding form fields, otherwise some menu items will be inaccessible. Use "File > Save" menu to save changes to a file.