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Publishing interactive PDF web forms

  1. Acrobat User Guide
  2. Introduction to Acrobat
    1. Access Acrobat from desktop, mobile, web
    2. What's new in Acrobat
    3. Keyboard shortcuts
    4. System Requirements
  3. Workspace
    1. Workspace basics
    2. Opening and viewing PDFs
      1. Opening PDFs
      2. Navigating PDF pages
      3. Viewing PDF preferences
      4. Adjusting PDF views
      5. Enable thumbnail preview of PDFs
      6. Display PDF in browser
    3. Working with online storage accounts
      1. Access files from Box
      2. Access files from Dropbox
      3. Access files from OneDrive
      4. Access files from SharePoint
      5. Access files from Google Drive
    4. Acrobat and macOS
    5. Acrobat notifications
    6. Grids, guides, and measurements in PDFs
    7. Asian, Cyrillic, and right-to-left text in PDFs
  4. Creating PDFs
    1. Overview of PDF creation
    2. Create PDFs with Acrobat
    3. Create PDFs with PDFMaker
    4. Using the Adobe PDF printer
    5. Converting web pages to PDF
    6. Creating PDFs with Acrobat Distiller
    7. Adobe PDF conversion settings
    8. PDF fonts
  5. Editing PDFs
    1. Edit text in PDFs
    2. Edit images or objects in a PDF
    3. Rotate, move, delete, and renumber PDF pages
    4. Edit scanned PDFs
    5. Enhance document photos captured using a mobile camera
    6. Optimizing PDFs
    7. PDF properties and metadata
    8. Links and attachments in PDFs
    9. PDF layers
    10. Page thumbnails and bookmarks in PDFs
    11. Action Wizard (Acrobat Pro)
    12. PDFs converted to web pages
    13. Setting up PDFs for a presentation
    14. PDF articles
    15. Geospatial PDFs
    16. Applying actions and scripts to PDFs
    17. Change the default font for adding text
    18. Delete pages from a PDF
  6. Scan and OCR
    1. Scan documents to PDF
    2. Enhance document photos
    3. Troubleshoot scanner issues when scanning using Acrobat
  7. Forms
    1. PDF forms basics
    2. Create a form from scratch in Acrobat
    3. Create and distribute PDF forms
    4. Fill in PDF forms
    5. PDF form field properties
    6. Fill and sign PDF forms
    7. Setting action buttons in PDF forms
    8. Publishing interactive PDF web forms
    9. PDF form field basics
    10. PDF barcode form fields
    11. Collect and manage PDF form data
    12. About forms tracker
    13. PDF forms help
    14. Send PDF forms to recipients using email or an internal server
  8. Combining files
    1. Combine or merge files into single PDF
    2. Rotate, move, delete, and renumber PDF pages
    3. Add headers, footers, and Bates numbering to PDFs
    4. Crop PDF pages
    5. Add watermarks to PDFs
    6. Add backgrounds to PDFs
    7. Working with component files in a PDF Portfolio
    8. Publish and share PDF Portfolios
    9. Overview of PDF Portfolios
    10. Create and customize PDF Portfolios
  9. Sharing, reviews, and commenting
    1. Share and track PDFs online
    2. Mark up text with edits
    3. Preparing for a PDF review
    4. Starting a PDF review
    5. Hosting shared reviews on SharePoint or Office 365 sites
    6. Participating in a PDF review
    7. Add comments to PDFs
    8. Adding a stamp to a PDF
    9. Approval workflows
    10. Managing comments | view, reply, print
    11. Importing and exporting comments
    12. Tracking and managing PDF reviews
  10. Saving and exporting PDFs
    1. Saving PDFs
    2. Convert PDF to Word
    3. Convert PDF to JPG
    4. Convert or export PDFs to other file formats
    5. File format options for PDF export
    6. Reusing PDF content
  11. Security
    1. Enhanced security setting for PDFs
    2. Securing PDFs with passwords
    3. Manage Digital IDs
    4. Securing PDFs with certificates
    5. Opening secured PDFs
    6. Removing sensitive content from PDFs
    7. Setting up security policies for PDFs
    8. Choosing a security method for PDFs
    9. Security warnings when a PDF opens
    10. Securing PDFs with Adobe Experience Manager
    11. Protected View feature for PDFs
    12. Overview of security in Acrobat and PDFs
    13. JavaScripts in PDFs as a security risk
    14. Attachments as security risks
    15. Allow or block links in PDFs
  12. Electronic signatures
    1. Sign PDF documents
    2. Capture your signature on mobile and use it everywhere
    3. Send documents for e-signatures
    4. About certificate signatures
    5. Certificate-based signatures
    6. Validating digital signatures
    7. Adobe Approved Trust List
    8. Manage trusted identities
  13. Printing
    1. Basic PDF printing tasks
    2. Print Booklets and PDF Portfolios
    3. Advanced PDF print settings
    4. Print to PDF
    5. Printing color PDFs (Acrobat Pro)
    6. Printing PDFs in custom sizes
  14. Accessibility, tags, and reflow
    1. Create and verify PDF accessibility
    2. Accessibility features in PDFs
    3. Reading Order tool for PDFs
    4. Reading PDFs with reflow and accessibility features
    5. Edit document structure with the Content and Tags panels
    6. Creating accessible PDFs
  15. Searching and indexing
    1. Creating PDF indexes
    2. Searching PDFs
  16. Multimedia and 3D models
    1. Add audio, video, and interactive objects to PDFs
    2. Adding 3D models to PDFs (Acrobat Pro)
    3. Displaying 3D models in PDFs
    4. Interacting with 3D models
    5. Measuring 3D objects in PDFs
    6. Setting 3D views in PDFs
    7. Enable 3D content in PDF
    8. Adding multimedia to PDFs
    9. Commenting on 3D designs in PDFs
    10. Playing video, audio, and multimedia formats in PDFs
    11. Add comments to videos
  17. Print production tools (Acrobat Pro)
    1. Print production tools overview
    2. Printer marks and hairlines
    3. Previewing output
    4. Transparency flattening
    5. Color conversion and ink management
    6. Trapping color
  18. Preflight (Acrobat Pro)
    1. PDF/X-, PDF/A-, and PDF/E-compliant files
    2. Preflight profiles
    3. Advanced preflight inspections
    4. Preflight reports
    5. Viewing preflight results, objects, and resources
    6. Output intents in PDFs
    7. Correcting problem areas with the Preflight tool
    8. Automating document analysis with droplets or preflight actions
    9. Analyzing documents with the Preflight tool
    10. Additional checks in the Preflight tool
    11. Preflight libraries
    12. Preflight variables
  19. Color management
    1. Keeping colors consistent
    2. Color settings
    3. Color-managing documents
    4. Working with color profiles
    5. Understanding color management

Learn how to publish interactive PDF web forms using Acrobat.

About web forms

PDF forms can be useful for submitting and collecting information over the web. This is done by providing several button actions that perform functions similar to some HTML scripting macros. You must have a Common Gateway Interface (CGI) application on the web server to collect and route the data to a database. Any existing CGI application that collects data from forms (in HTML, FDF, or XML format) can be used.

Before you make your forms web-ready, make sure that your form-field names match those sets in the CGI application.


CGI scripts must be built outside Acrobat, and their creation is not covered by the Adobe Acrobat product.

Add submit functionality

Use the Submit A Form action to send form data to an email address or to a web server by specifying a URL. You can also use the submit button to send other files back to a server or database. For example, you can attach scanned images or files to a form. The files are submitted along with the rest of the form data when you click the Submit button.


If your PDF form contains an email-based submit button, you can use the Distribute workflow to facilitate distributing the form to others.

  1. Choose Tools > Prepare Form, then select Button in the toolbar, and create a button.

  2. Double-click the button to open the Button Properties dialog box.
  3. Click the Actions tab, and select Mouse Up from the Select Trigger menu.

  4. Select Submit A Form from the Select Action menu, and then click Add.

  5. In the Submit Form Selections dialog box, type an entry in Enter A URL For This Link:

    • To send the form data to a web server, enter the destination URL.

    • To send the form data to an email address, enter mailto: followed by the email address. For example, type

  6. Make additional changes to the available options, and then click OK to close the dialog box.

    For information on the available options, see the next section.

  7. Change settings on other tabs in the Button Properties dialog box as needed, and then click Close.

Submit Form Selections options


Exports as an FDF file. You can select one or more of the available options: user-entered data, comments, and incremental changes to the PDF file. The Incremental Changes To The PDF option is useful for exporting a digital signature in a way a server can easily read and reconstruct.


 If the server returns data to the user in FDF or XFDF format, the server’s URL must end with the #FDF suffix—for example, http://myserver/cgi-bin/myscript#FDF.


Exports as an HTML file.


Exports as an XML file. You can choose to export the form fields data, comments, or both.

PDF The Complete Document

Exports the entire PDF file that is your form. Although this creates a larger file than the FDF option, it is useful for preserving digital signatures.


 If the users that fill in the PDF form are using Adobe Reader, you must choose either FDF or XFDF for the Export Format option.

All Fields

Exports all form fields even if the form fields do not contain values.

Only These

Exports only the form fields you specify by clicking Select Fields and indicating which form fields to include and whether you want to include empty fields.

Convert Date To Standard Format

Exports all form dates in a single format, regardless of how they are entered in the form.

Add a Reset Form button

A Reset Form button clears any data a user has already entered in the form. It is like the Tools > Prepare Form > More > Clear Form feature, which is available to you when you create and edit Acrobat forms. However, you can set up your reset button so that it clears only specific fields.

  1. Choose Tools > Prepare Form, then select Button in the toolbar, and create a button.

  2. Double-click the button to open the Button Properties dialog box.
  3. Click the Actions tab, and select Mouse Up from the Select Trigger menu.

  4. Select Reset A Form from the Select Action menu, and then click Add.

  5. In the Reset A Form dialog box, do one of the following and then click OK:

    • Click individual check boxes to select or deselect the fields that you want to be reset by the button.

    • Select All.

    The list in the Actions tab now shows Reset A Form nested under the Mouse Up action.

  6. Click another tab in the Button Properties dialog box to continue defining properties for the button, or click Close.

Add an Import Data button

Use the Import Form Data action to enable users to fill out common form fields, such as name and email address, with data imported from another form. Users can also use the Import Data button to populate common form fields with their personal profile information. Only form fields that match are updated. The fields that do not match are ignored. Before you create an Import Form Data action, set up a form with common information form fields from which to export the data.


The Import Form Data action searches for the data file from which to import data in different locations in Windows than on Mac OS. In Windows, the Import Form Data action searches the Acrobat or Acrobat Reader folder, the current folder, the System folder, the Windows folder, My Documents\Adobe\Acrobat, and the folders that are in the PATH statement. On Mac OS, the Import Form Data action searches the Acrobat or Acrobat Reader folder and the System Preferences folder.

  1. Choose Tools > Prepare Form, then select Button in the toolbar, and create a button.

  2. Double-click the button to open the Button Properties dialog box.
  3. Click the Actions tab, and select Mouse Up from the Select Trigger menu.

  4. Select Import Form Data from the Select Action menu, and then click Add.

  5. Locate and select an FDF file, and click Open.

  6. Click another tab in the Button Properties dialog box to continue defining properties for the button, or click Close.

CGI export values

An export value is the information sent to a CGI application to identify a user-selected form field. You need to define an export value only if both of the following are true:

  • The data is collected electronically in a database over a company intranet or the web.

  • The data is different from the item designated by the form field, or the form field is a radio button.

    When defining export values, keep the following guidelines in mind:

  • Use the default export value (Yes) to indicate that a check box or radio button has been selected.

  • Enter an export value for drop-down lists only if you want the value to be different from the item listed—for example, to match the name of the form field in a database. The item selected in the drop-down list is used as the export value unless a different export value is explicitly entered in the Properties dialog box.

  • Related radio buttons must have exactly the same form field name but different export values. This ensures that the radio buttons toggle and that the correct values will be collected in the database.

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