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How to create interactive pdfs

Updated March 23, 2017

Portable Document Format (PDF) files can be made into interactive forms, in which users fill in text, make item selections and check boxes. These forms are useful for electronic applications. To create an interactive PDF you must use Adobe Acrobat. The free PDF reader Adobe Reader does not enable you to create PDFs. You can create a PDF from scratch or convert an existing document into an interactive form.

Open your word processor of choice. (You have many more formatting options if you create the document this way and then convert to PDF.) Enter the content that you want to include in the interactive form. Just leave space for the interactive fields. You will add those later. Format the document with the font, text size and text colour you want.

Save the file once you're happy with the way it looks. Remember that it's much more difficult to edit a file as a PDF than as a text document.

Open Adobe Acrobat.

Click the Forms menu and select Start Form Wizard.

Select the option An Existing Electronic Document in the wizard. Choose the Word file you just created. Follow the on-screen instructions to complete the conversion into a PDF form.

Click the Forms menu again and select Add or Edit Fields. Select Form Tools under the Forms menu. Choose a tool you want to use to create the first interactive form field. Each tool is used to create different types of fields, such as text fields, items in a list, selectable buttons and check boxes.

Click the area on the page in which you want to insert the first field. Click and drag to draw a rectangle, defining the size of the form field.

Enter a name for the field in the Field Name box. Choose whether you want the field to be required for users.

Continue adding new form fields until you've completed the form.

Click the "Preview" button to preview your form as recipients will see it.

Select Save from the File menu to save the form.

Tip

When you're ready to send the form to a group of recipients, select Distribute Form from the Forms menu. Select an option for distributing the form in the Distribute Form Wizard. You can distribute it using your own server or by e-mail.

Things You'll Need

  • Adobe Acrobat
  • Word processor
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About the Author

Amy Dombrower is a journalist and freelance writer living in Chicago. She worked in the newspaper industry for three years and enjoys writing about technology, health, paper crafts and life improvement. Some of her passions are graphic design, movies, music and fitness. Dombrower earned her Bachelor of Arts in journalism from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.