Learn how to convert paper, Word, Excel, and other files into fillable PDF forms.


1. Select a file to convert

Download the project files to follow along with the sample file, or use your own form.

Open Acrobat and choose Tools. Find Prepare Form and click Open to browse to the file you'd like to convert to an interactive PDF form. You can convert numerous file types into PDF including Microsoft Word or Excel documents, non-interactive PDFs, and even scanned paper documents.

Once you've selected your file, choose Start to prepare the form.

Select a file to convert
Choose Start to prepare the form

Acrobat will automatically detect and create interactive form fields from the file you've uploaded. Most legible form fields can be detected and created automatically. If Acrobat cannot detect a particular form field automatically, you can quickly and easily add your own.

Preview form

2. Edit Text field properties

Some text fields, such as the State field, require letters to be spaced evenly in predefined boxes. This is called a field comb and, in this case, needs to be limited to 2 characters.

  1. Right-click the Text field and choose Properties...

  2. Click Options in the top of the Properties window and deselect all of the options.

  3. Select Comb of... and type 2.

  4. This limits the text field to two characters and ensures that the field will be filled in properly.

Text field properties
Edit text fields

3. Edit Check Box properties

The default Check Box Style is a black square. To change the style to a Check Mark (or other symbol), right-click on the Check Box and choose Properties...

Click Options in the Properties window, and change the Check Box Style to Check.

Check box properties
Edit check box

Create custom fields

Sometimes Acrobat cannot automatically detect fields. In this example, the Signature section does not include a visual representation of its function (such as a line to sign on). Additionally, the Visual Inspection section doesn't include a border around the text field. Let's quickly create some custom fields to finish the form.

Create custom fields

4. Add a signature field

In the Tool menu, click once on the Digital Signature icon. Move your mouse to the correct position on the page using the alignment guides. When you are statisfied, click once to add the field to the page. 

Tip: Instead of clicking once to place the signature field, you can click and drag to resize the field before placing.

Note: If you'd prefer to use this form to collect an electronic signature with Adobe Sign, check out Send PDF documents for signature for more information about that service.

Add a signature field

In this case, the signature fields needs to be resized to match the others on the page. Start by selecting the Signature field on the page, or in the Fields menu to the right.

Next, use Ctrl + Click (or Cmd + Click) to select the Email field as well. When both are selected, choose the Match Size option that includes Width and Height. The Signature field will automatically resize to match the size of the Email field.

Note: The order you select items is important to how fields resize. When multiple fields are selected, they will match the size of the last item you clicked.

Signature field options
Signature field

5. Add an extended Text field

Click once on the Text field icon in the Tools menu and click and drag the field to fill the entire white area at the bottom of the document. When you add the field, you can choose to give it a name. Clicking "All Properties" enables you to edit more properties for the field.

Add an extended Text field

6. Create a button to clear the form

Adding a button to reset a form can be an efficient way to clear data from the form. To add this button, select the Button icon from the Tool menu. Move your mouse to the correct position on the page and click once to add the button. Give the button a name.

Next, choose All Properties (You can also right-click the button and choose Properties...).


Adding a Button
  1. Choose Options in the Button Properties window. Add a Label to the button that reads CLEAR.

  2. Choose Actions in the Button Properties window.

  3. Select the Reset a form action.

  4. Then click Add... and select the fields that you'd like to reset with the button. Click OK.

When you use the Clear button, all data will be cleared from the form fields and reset to empty values.

Button options

7. Preview and test the form

So far, we've been working in the Edit mode. To test the interactivity of your form, click the Preview button in the upper right-hand corner of Acrobat. Once in Preview mode, you can test the form by filling out each of the fields.

To return to Edit mode, simply click the Edit button in the upper right-hand corner. This button toggles back and forth between the two views.

When you're ready to distribute your form, use the Distribute button at the bottom of the right hand pane (visible only in Edit mode).

Preview and test the form

Contributor : Andrew Wagner

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