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PDF form field basics

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  19. Color management
    1. Keeping colors consistent
    2. Color settings
    3. Color-managing documents
    4. Working with color profiles
    5. Understanding color management

This document explains the PDF form field basics in Acrobat. (If you are looking for more information on form fields properties, click the appropriate link above.)

 

Create form fields

In Acrobat, you create a form field by choosing one of the form tools. For each field type, you can set various options through the form field Properties dialog box.

  1. After you convert your document to a PDF form, do one of the following:

    • Choose a form field from the toolbar.

    • Right-click the page and select a field.

    Your cursor becomes a crosshair, and displays a preview of the field.

  2. On the page, click where you want to add the field to create a field with the default size. To create a field using a custom size, drag a rectangle to define the size of the field.
  3. In the Field Name box, type the name of the field and specify if you want the field to be a required field. Choose a name that is relevant and descriptive to make organizing and collecting the data easier.

  4. To display the Properties dialog box and modify any other field properties, click All Properties.

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    If you have selected the Keep Tool Selected option in the toolbar, the Field Name box doesn’t appear after adding a field. Each time you click the page, a new field is added to the form. To exit this mode, press the Esc key or click the Select Object Tool button . To modify the properties of the field, double-click the field.

  5. 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.

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

Lay out form fields on a grid

You can use grids to help position form fields precisely on a page. You can define the grid spacing, color, and position. You can also choose whether to have the boundaries of a form field snap to grid lines when you’re editing the form field. Grid lines don’t print.

  1. Choose View > Show/Hide > Rulers & Grids > Grid.

  2. To make form fields snap to the nearest grid lines when you create or move them, choose View > Show/Hide > Rulers & Grids > Snap To Grid.

Use the form field properties to position the fields correctly

You can adjust the position of a form field by specifying the alignment in the form field properties.

  1. Right-click the form field, and choose Properties.

  2. Click the Position tab. The Position tab lets you position or size the currently selected field or fields to an accuracy of up to 10,000th of an inch.

    Form field accuracy upto 10,000th of an inch

    To learn more about form field propeties, see PDF form field properties.

Copy a form field

You can create copies of a form field on a single page of a PDF form. You can also copy a form field and paste it onto other pages. When you create duplicate form fields, replicas of the original field are added to one or more other pages. The duplicate fields are always in the same position on each page as the original. In case a form field is already present at the location, then the copied field will be pasted in the center of the page. Both copies and duplicates can be dragged to different locations on a page, but not from one page to another.

Both copies and duplicates are created with the same basic name as the original form field. Copies and duplicates pasted using the Duplicate Across Pages command also have a number appended. All form fields with the same basic name share the same user data and action properties. Consequently, when a user adds or edits a response to a copy or duplicate field, the response appears in all fields with the same basic name.

If you change the properties of any one of multiple versions of a form field with the same basic name, those changes affect only that copy of the form field. The exception is when you change an Actions listing if the trigger isn’t a mouse action.

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To prevent a duplicate or copied form field from reacting in unison with the original field, change the name of the new form field.

Create a copy of a form field

  1. If you are not in the form editing mode, choose Tools > Prepare Form.

  2. Select the form field, and do one of the following:
    • To copy the form field to the center of the current view, choose Edit > Copy, and then choose Edit > Paste.

    • To copy the form field and move it to another location on the page, Ctrl-drag it.

      Tip: To constrain the vertical or horizontal movement as you drag, press and hold Shift.

  3. If you want the field to be automatically populated with the data the user types into the original field, leave the name as is. If the copied field is for unique user information, rename it.

Create multiple copies of a form field on a page

  1. If you are not in the form editing mode, choose Tools > Prepare Form.

  2. Right-click the form field and choose Create Multiple Copies.

  3. In the Create Multiple Copies Of Fields dialog box, select Preview, and move the dialog box as needed so that you can see the original field and the copies on the form page.

  4. Make the selections you want to apply:
    • To change the number of copies being created, enter different values in the Copy Selected Fields Down and Copy Selected Fields Across options.

    • To change the dimensions of the original field and all the copies, enter different values in the Change Width and Change Height options.

    • To move the original field and all the copies, click the Up, Down, Left, and Right buttons.

  5. If you want the fields to be automatically populated with the data the user types into the original field, leave the names as they are. If the copied fields are for unique user information, rename them.

Duplicate a form field across multiple pages

  1. If you are not in the form editing mode, choose Tools > Prepare Form.

  2. Right-click the form field and choose Duplicate Across Pages.

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    The Duplicate Across Pages command isn’t available for forms with only one page.

  3. Do one of the following:
    • To duplicate the form field on every page in the form, select All, and click OK.

    • To duplicate the form field on a limited range of pages, click the From button, and type the start and ending pages on which you want the form field to appear. Then click OK.

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    Including or not including the page on which the form field originally appears doesn’t affect the duplication process. Including that page won’t create a second copy on top of the original one, and not including it won’t remove the original form field.

  4. If you want the fields to be automatically populated with the data the user types into the original field, leave the names as they are. If the duplicate fields are for unique user information, rename them.

Select multiple form fields

Selecting multiple form fields is the first step for several tasks, such as creating copies, aligning form fields, and adjusting the spacing between form fields.

  1. If you are not in the form editing mode, choose Tools > Prepare Form.

  2. Do any of the following:
    • To select all form fields of all types, choose Edit > Select All.

    • To select a range of form fields, click the first form field in the range, and then Shift-click the last form field. All form fields between the two form fields are selected.

    • To select individual form fields in different parts of the PDF page, Ctrl-click each form field.

    • To select all form fields in an area of the page, use the Select Object tool  to drag a selection marquee around the area.

    • To deselect an individual form field, Ctrl-click that field.

    The field that is highlighted in dark blue and displays the border handles is the anchor. When you select multiple form fields by clicking, the last field selected is the anchor. When you use a marquee, the form field that was created first is the anchor. If you Ctrl-click to deselect the anchor, the form field located in the upper left of the selection becomes the new anchor form field.

Resize form fields

After you create form fields, you can rearrange, resize, or move them to give the page a cleaner, more professional look.

Resize a form field

  1. If you are not in the form editing mode, choose Tools > Prepare Form.

  2. Select the form field that you want to resize.
  3. Do any of the following:
    • To resize the field manually, drag a border handle. Hold Shift and drag a corner handle to maintain the current aspect ratio of the form field.

    • To resize the field by one pixel, press Ctrl+Arrow key; to resize the fields by ten pixels, press Ctrl+Shift+Arrow key.

    • To resize to a specific dimension, right-click the field and choose Properties. Then click the Position tab, and adjust the Width and Height values.

Resize multiple form fields to match a selected form field

  1. If you are not in the form editing mode, choose Tools > Prepare Form.

  2. Select all the form fields that you want to resize.
  3. Choose an appropriate option in the right hand pane under Match Size.

    You can also right-click the form field that you want the other selected form fields to match. Choose Set Fields To Same Size, and then select one of the following:

    Height

    Adjusts the heights without changing the widths.

    Width

    Adjusts the widths without changing the heights.

    Both

    Adjust all widths and heights to match.

Move form fields

Move individual form fields

You can move form fields by simply dragging them. For greater precision in less time, you can use special features that align them with each other, adjust the spacing between them, and center them on the page.

  1. If you are not in the form editing mode, choose Tools > Prepare Form.

  2. Select one or more form fields that you want to move.
  3. Do one of the following:
    • To move to an approximate location, drag the selected form fields to the new location.

      Tip: To constrain movement to a horizontal or vertical direction, begin dragging, and then press Shift while continuing to drag the selection.

    • To move to a specific location, right-click the field and choose Properties. Then click the Position tab, and set the Position values.

    • To move either horizontally or vertically in small increments, press the arrow keys to nudge the selected form field into position.

    • To move the form field to the exact center of a page, choose Edit > Cut, navigate to the desired page, and then choose Edit > Paste.

      Note: Fields are placed in the center of the page only the first time they’re pasted. Additional pasted fields are offset from the previously pasted field.

Align and center multiple form fields

  1. If you are not in the form editing mode, choose Tools > Prepare Form.

  2. Select two or more form fields that you want to align.
  3. Click appropriate option in the right hand pane.

    You can also right-click the field to which you want to align the other fields. Choose Align, Distribute Or Center, and then choose a command as follows:

    • To align a column of fields, choose Align Left, Right, or Vertical. They align respectively to the left edge, right edge, or vertical axis (center) of the anchor form field.

    • To align a row of fields, choose Align Top, Bottom, or Horizontally. They align respectively to the top edge, bottom edge, or horizontal axis (center) of the anchor form field.

    • To center the fields, choose Center Vertically, Horizontally, or Both.

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    When you right-click one of the selected fields, it shows the border handles, indicating that it’s the anchor form field. The Align menu commands move the other selected form fields to line up with the edges of the anchor form field.

Adjust the spacing between form fields

In the context of laying out form fields on a page, distributing means to give a group of form fields uniform spacing, measured from the centers of adjacent fields. The Distribute commands take precedence over the Snap To Grid command.

  1. If you are not in the form editing mode, choose Tools > Prepare Form.

  2. Select the form fields that you want to adjust.
  3. Choose an appropriate option in the right hand pane under Distribute.

    You can also  right-click any one of the selected form fields, and do one of the following:

    • To distribute the fields evenly between the topmost and bottommost fields, choose Align, Distribute Or Center >Distribute Vertically.

    • To distribute the fields evenly between the leftmost and rightmost fields, choose Align, Distribute Or Center >Distribute Horizontally.

      Note: The Distribute command at the bottom in the right hand pane has a different function. Use that command to send your form to others, who fill in the information and return the data to you.

       

Delete a form field

  1. If you are not in the form editing mode, choose Tools > Prepare Form.

  2. In the right hand pane under Fields or the page view, select the form fields that you want to delete.

  3. Right-click and choose Delete, or choose Edit > Delete.

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