Easily turn a scanned paper form or a simple form made in Microsoft Word, Excel, or another application into an intelligent PDF form. Distribute forms to recipients and track the status of replies.

Note:

This document provides instructions for Acrobat DC. If you're using Adobe Reader DC, see What can I do with Adobe Reader DC. If you're using Acrobat XI, see Acrobat XI Help.

Video tutorial: Use the Form Wizard to create forms

Learn how to automatically detect form fields and customize the properties of different fields.

Video (06:33) | By Claudia McCue (lynda.com)

Create a form from an existing document

When you convert an existing document into a PDF form, Acrobat DC automatically adds interactive form fields to the form. You can then edit the form to add specialized form fields, such as a drop-down list, list box, or buttons.

Create a form in Acrobat
Types of form fields you can add to a PDF

A. Certificate-based signature field B. Drop-down list box C. Text fields D. Automatic message bar E. Check boxes F. Radio buttons G. List box H. Buttons 
  1. Choose Tools > Prepare Form.

  2. Select one of the following options:

    Select a file

    Converts an existing electronic document (for example, Word, Excel, or PDF) to an interactive PDF form. Click Select a File to browse and locate the file.

    Scan a document

    Scans a paper form and converts it to an interactive PDF form.

  3. If you want others to sign this form, select the This document requires Signature check box.

    Note:

    The form field auto detection is ON, by default. To change this setting, click the Change link and choose the settings as appropriate. For more information, see Forms preferences.  

  4. Click Start.

    Acrobat DC creates the form and opens it in the Form Editing mode. The right hand pane displays options for editing the form. The toolbar contains form field tools for adding additional fields.

  5. Review the form fields Acrobat DC created. Add fields using the form field tools in the toolbar. Delete, resize, or arrange the fields as needed. You can add any of the following types of form fields:

    Barcodes

    Encode the input from selected fields and display it as a visual pattern that can be interpreted by decoding software or hardware (available separately).

    Buttons

    Initiate a change on the user’s computer, such as opening a file, playing a sound, or submitting data to a web server. These buttons can be customized with images, text, and visual changes triggered by mouse actions.

    Check boxes

    Present yes-or-no choices for individual items. If the form contains multiple check boxes, the user can typically select as many or few of these as wanted.

    Digital signature field

    Lets the user electronically sign a PDF document with a digital signature.

    Drop-down list

    Let the user either choose an item from a pop-up menu or type a value. You can set a form field property that enables the user to enter a custom value.

    List boxes

    Display a list of options the user can select. You can set a form field property that enables the user to Shift-click to select multiple items on the list.

    Radio buttons

    Present a group of choices from which the user can select only one item. All radio buttons with the same name work together as a group.

    Text fields

    Let the user type text, such as name, address, or phone number.

    For more information, see Form field basics.

  6. To test your form, click the Preview button in the toolbar. Previewing a form allows you to view the form the same way the form recipients will and gives you a chance to verify the form. If you are previewing a form, you can click the Edit button to go back to the edit mode.

  7. When your form is complete, click the cross button towards the right end of the toolbar to close form editing.

To distribute the form and collect responses, see Distribute PDF or web forms.  

Create forms for Adobe Sign

You can convert an existing form into an Adobe Sign form or easily drag-and-drop Adobe Sign fields onto a PDF. You can send the form out to be filled in and signed using Adobe Sign. Not all fields convert to Adobe Sign fields, such as List Box, Dropdown, or Button fields. You can add additional Adobe Sign fields from the toolbar.

  1. Open the PDF you want to convert to an Adobe Sign form.

  2. Choose Tools > Prepare Form.

  3. Click Start.

    Acrobat DC creates the form and opens it in the Form Editing mode. The right hand pane displays options for editing the form. The toolbar contains form field tools for adding additional fields.

  4. In the right hand pane, click More and then choose Convert To Adobe Sign Form.

  5. When alerted that Acrobat DC removes form fields that Adobe Sign doesn't support, click Next, and then in the subsequent alert, click OK.

  6. To add a field to the form, select its icon in the toolbar. Position the pointer where you want to place the field, and click to insert it.

    Adobe Sign specific form fields
    When creating or editing Adobe Sign forms, the toolbar displays Adobe Sign specific form fields.

  7. Name the field and designate who is to fill it in or sign it. To set its properties, such as the border color, fill, font, and typeface size, double-click the field.

    Placing an Adobe Sign field
    When you first place an Adobe Sign field, you can name it and specify who is to sign or fill in the field.

  8. To preview your changes, click Preview in the upper-right corner. Click Edit to in the upper-right corner to switch back to the edit mode.

  9. Save the form.

To distribute the form and collect responses, see Distribute Adobe Sign forms.

Enable Reader users to save form data

Ordinarily, users of Reader X and earlier can’t save filled-in copies of forms that they complete. However, you can extend the rights of a PDF to allow these users to save form data. If you have Acrobat Pro DC, you can include additional capabilities for Reader users, such as adding text to non-interactive forms.

Note:

Unlike earlier versions of Reader, Reader XI and Acrobat Reader DC include both the Add Text tool and the ability to save form data. Acrobat DC users can type in non-fillable forms, add comments, and digitally sign PDFs without extending special rights.

  1. Open a single PDF, or preview a component PDF in a PDF Portfolio.

  2. If you are editing the form, click the cross icon next to the Preview button in the upper-right corner.

  3. Choose File > Save As Other > Reader Extended PDF, and choose one of the following options:

    Enable Commenting & Measuring

    (Acrobat Pro DC) Allows users to add comments or access the Object Data, Measuring, and Geospatial tools.

    Enable More Tools (includes form fill-in & save)

    Lets users save data they’ve entered in interactive or fillable forms.

Notes on saving filled-in forms locally

Both Acrobat Standard DC and Acrobat Pro DC allow Adobe Reader 8 or later users to fill in and save PDF forms locally. Note the following two points about the use of the Reader Extensions capability for local saving of PDF forms (called extended documents):

Number of deployed extended documents

An Acrobat Standard DC or Acrobat Pro DC customer can send an extended document to an unlimited number of recipients for them to fill in. For example, an Acrobat customer can post an empty form template on a web page that allows users to fill in and save PDF forms locally. An unlimited number of people can access the template. Also, the Acrobat customer can collect unlimited number of responses from the filled-in form.

Number of recipients of the extended document

An Acrobat Standard DC or Acrobat Pro DC customer can send an extended document to unlimited number of recipients. The Acrobat customer can send unlimited number of copies of the extended document to unlimited number of recipients and collect unlimited number of responses from the filled-in form.

Adding JavaScript to forms

The JavaScript language lets you create interactive web pages. Adobe has enhanced JavaScript so that you can easily integrate interactivity into PDF forms. The most common uses for JavaScript in Acrobat forms are formatting, calculating, validating data, and assigning an action. In Windows, you can also configure Adobe PDF forms to connect directly to databases using Open Database Connection (ODBC).

Note:

If you’re creating dynamic forms, keep in mind that Acrobat Reader doesn’t support some custom JavaScripts. The form may not function properly when viewed in Acrobat Reader unless additional usage rights are added to the PDF.

Additional resources

For more information on Acrobat JavaScript, see these resources:

Distribute (send) forms to recipients

Distribute PDF or web forms

After you create a form, you choose a method for sending it to recipients.

  1. Click Distribute in the lower-right corner of the right hand pane.

  2. A series of messages might appear, depending on the conditions Acrobat DC detects in your form. Respond to the onscreen instructions as needed, and save the form.

  3. Choose a distribution and collection method:

    Email

    Collect responses in your email inbox.

    Internal Server

    Distribute and collect responses on an internal server such as SharePoint or Network Folder. For more information, see Specify a server.

  4. Click Continue and follow the onscreen instructions for distributing the form.

  5. If you choose to collect responses in your email inbox, do one of the following:
    • Enter the email addresses separated with a semi-colon, or click the To button to select email addresses from your address book.
    • Edit the default message.
    • Select the option Collect Name & Email from Recipients To Provide Optimal Tracking. The system prompts recipients to provide their name and email address when they submit the form. This guarantees that in Tracker, you see exactly who has and hasn't replied, and when.
    • Deselect the option if you want to receive anonymous submissions, or you don't care about that level of tracking.

    Note:

    If you don’t know the email addresses of your recipients, enter your own email address. The system sends you a link to the form, which you can email to recipients as desired.

To track the status of the distributed form, click Track in the lower-right corner of the right hand pane. For more information, see About forms tracker.

Distribute Adobe Sign forms

After you create an Adobe Sign form, you can use Adobe Sign service for sending it to recipients for filling in and signing.

  1. Click Send For Signatures in the lower-right corner of the right hand pane.

  2. Click Ready to Send. The document is uploaded to Adobe Document Cloud.

  3. Type in the email addresses of people you want to sign your document. Add a message if desired.

  4. Click Send.

    You receive an email from Adobe Sign which states that the documents are sent to the first user for signature. The first user also receives an email to sign the document. When the user adds his or her signature in the Signature field, and then click the Click to sign button, the document is sent to the next user for signature and so on.

    Everyone gets a copy of the signed document, and the file is stored securely in Adobe Document Cloud.

To track the status of the Adobe Sign form, see Track documents sent for signature.

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