Copy and edit a shared template

The Adobe Acrobat Sign template library contains three US tax documents as examples of how forms can be created. They are fully valid and functional for use, but are not editable by users as they are shared by all accounts. The below article defines the process to save the Acrobat Sign template to your personal library so you can edit the fields as you like, and then distribute that document to your local account. This process relies on form field templates, so is only viable with team, business, and enterprise service plans.


Creating a copy of a library template takes about 2-3 minutes, and will give you a version of the document that is fully under your control.

Before you start the below process, you may want to obtain a PDF version of the IRS form you want to replicate from the web site.  The government changes these forms on a regular basis, so make sure you have the most current version.

Once you have a PDF of the form, the process is two quick steps:

  • Copy the template by sending an agreement
  • Update the template properties to make the document available to others (optional)

Additionally, at the bottom of this article, there are steps to upload a new version of the base form, and apply the field overlay onto it.


API using accounts must remember that every template has a different documentID, so if you replicate a template that you are using from the Acrobat Sign library, you will need to update the documentID in your API calls to use the new copy.

Copy the Template

To copy the template, you need to send an agreement, using the existing Acrobat Sign template, through the authoring environment, and saving a copy in the process.

  1. Navigate to the Acrobat Sign Send page and start an agreement

  2. Configure the agreement for two recipients.

    • These recipients do no need to be valid as the agreement does not need to be signed, only copied
    • The agreement will be sent, so using a known "unreal" email address is a good idea 
      • e.g.: noreply@myDomain.dom

    Two recipients are defined because the template we are copying identifies fields for two recipients. If you only configure the agreement for one recipient, you will only import the fields for the first recipient.

  3. Attach the Acrobat Sign template you want to copy.

    • Only do one template at a time
    • In the below example we are using the I-9, but all templates work the same
  4. Check the box to Preview & Add Signature Fields, and then click Next

    • The authoring environment opens showing the form

  5. With the authoring environment open:

    • Check the Save to document library box
    • Click the Send button

  6. A layover appears asking you to name the new template you are saving to your personal document library.

    • You can keep the same name or rename it as you like
    • After setting your template name, click the Save and Send button

  7. Once the Save and Send button is clicked, the document is saved as a document to your personal library.

    • The agreement is also sent for signature, which should have no impact if you defined "safe" email addresses

Update the template properties

A copy of the form now exists in your personal library, but if other people need to use it, you need to expand the access scope

  1. Click the Manage link at the top of the window to launch the Manage page

    Two new entries will exist on the manage page:

    • The bogus agreement that was sent in the Out for Signature section
    • The document template in the Library Templates section

    At this point it is recommended that you cancel and delete the bogus agreement that you used to copy the template

  2. Click the Edit Template link for the document template

    • This launches the authoring environment
    Edit the template from the manage page

  3. Once the authoring environment is open, expand the Template Properties section at the top right of the window.

    Here, you will be able to :

    • Rename the template
    • Change the TEMPLATE TYPE (selecting Both is recommended)
    • Change the access (WHO CAN USE) scope to your group, or the whole organization, as needed

  4. Click Save to save the adjusted template properties.

    • A "success" page will open indicating the template was properly saved.

Congratulations!  The Acrobat Sign template has been successfully copied to your personal account!

Creating a different document version using the existing field overlay

For customers that want to upload a new version of a form (as they change regularly), you can quickly create a new document template and apply the filed overlay from your existing template.

Two steps are involved:

  • Upload the new form
  • Apply the field overlay

To do this you will need to have a copy of the document version you want to apply the field overlay to.  In the case of the IRS documents, you can obtain them from the web site.

You also need to be the owner of the template that you want to use as the field overlay for the new form.

Upload the form

  1. Navigate to the Home page in Acrobat Sign

  2. Click the Create a reusable template button

    • This opens the Create a Library Template page
    Create a reusable template

  3. With the Create a Library Template page open:

    • Enter a Template Name for you new template
      • Ideally something that identifies the template uniquely. The name can be changed later
    • Upload the new file that you are basing the new document template on
    • Click the Preview & Add Fields button
      • This launches the authoring environment

Apply the field overlay

  1. Once the authoring environment opens:

    • Click the Field Templates drop-down in the upper-left corner of the screen
    • Select the template you want to apply

  2. With the template selected, click the Apply button


    The document will process for a short time while the field overlay is applied.

    When done, the form will refresh, and you will see the fields applied

  3. If the structure of the page was very similar (as IRS forms generally are) the field placement should align very closely.  

    However, it's worth taking a couple minutes to look over the template and make sure the fields are aligned as you like.

    Now is a good time to adjust the fields and their properties as you like to better fit your expectations.

    When you are satisfied, click the Save button in the bottom-right corner to save the document template.


    Once the document is saved, you will find the new template on your Manage page in the Templates section

    Templates on the Manage page

  4. Test your document internally to ensure that everything works as you expect.

    When you are confident that the form is correct:

    • Edit the new template on the Manage page
    • Set the final Template Name that you want displayed
    • Change the Template Properties to grant access to your group/organization

    Optionally change the legacy form's Template Properties to an access scope of Only Me, keeping it safe in case you need to revert back to the old template


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