This document explains the PDF form field properties in Acrobat DC. (If you are looking for information on form field basics, set action buttons in PDF forms or add PDF barcode form fields, click the appropriate link above. To explore the common questions on forms, see Forms FAQ.)
How a form field behaves is determined by settings in the Properties dialog box for that individual field. You can set properties that apply formatting, determine how the form field information relates to other form fields, impose limitations on what the user can enter in the form field, trigger custom scripts, and so on.
You can set various properties for an Acrobat form field, depending on the form field type. The properties for each type of form field are selected on a series of tabs. When you change a property, it is applied as soon as you select another property or press Enter.
All types of form fields have a General tab and an Actions tab. Other tabs appear only in specific types of form fields. The Options tab appears for most form field types but the options available are unique to each type of form field.
Two items are available on every tab. If you select one on any tab, a check mark will appear, and the option will be checked on all tabs. These are:
When selected, prevents any further changes to any form field properties.
Closes the form field Properties dialog box. If you are changing the properties of multiple fields, you can leave the Properties dialog box open. Click each field to change its properties.
If you select Locked on any tab, it locks all options for the field, not just the options on that tab.
You can access form field properties only when you are in editing mode. You can change the properties for multiple form fields at a time.
If you select form fields that have different property values, some options in the Properties dialog box are not available. Otherwise, changes to the available options are applied to all selected form fields.
To avoid accidental changes to the form field, select Locked in the lower-left corner of the Properties dialog box before you close it. To unlock, click the option again.
Displays text that the hesitant user may find helpful in filling in the form field. Tooltips appear when the pointer hovers briefly over the form field.
Specifies whether the form field can be seen, either on screen or in print. The choices are: Visible, Hidden, Visible But Doesn’t Print, and Hidden But Printable.
Forces the user to fill in the selected form field. If the user attempts to submit the form while a required field is blank, an error message appears and the empty required form field is highlighted.
Appearance properties determine how the form field looks on the page. The Appearance tab appears for all types of form fields except barcodes, and includes the following options:
Opens a color picker in which you can select a color swatch for the frame surrounding the field. To leave the field without a frame, select No Color.
Opens a color picker in which you can select a color swatch for the background behind the field. To leave the field uncolored, select No Color.
note: A Fill Color choice other than No Color will block any images on the PDF page that are behind the form field.
Sets the size of user-entered text or of the selection marker for radio buttons and check boxes. The choices include Auto, various preset values, and typing in a different value. If you select Auto for a text field, as the user types, the font size changes to fit the text in the box.
Opens a color picker in which you can select a color swatch for the text or selection marker.
Lists the fonts available on your computer. This option is not available for form fields that do not display text.
The Enable Right-To-Left Language Options in the Language panel of the Preferences dialog box affects what appears in the Appearance tab of the Properties dialog box. When that preference is selected, the Appearance tab includes options for changing the digit style and text direction for text fields, drop-down list boxes, and list boxes.
The Position tab lets you position or size the currently selected field or fields. You can move fields to the location you specify on the page. Use the Height and Width options to change only the size of fields. To move fields without resizing them, choose Do Not Change Height And Width When Changing The Position.
The options available on this tab change according to the type of form field selected. The Options tab appears for all form field types except digital signatures.
Includes the PDF417, QR Code, and Data Matrix barcode types.
note: If your organization processes forms by multiple methods, select the method that accommodates the lowest quality barcode images. For example, if forms will be returned by fax and mail, choose Fax Server as the decode condition to ensure high read rates on all forms.
Compress Data Before Encoding To Barcode
Specifies that data will be compressed before it is encoded. Data is compressed with the Flat compression method. Compressed data usually requires less storage space in the barcode, allowing more data to be stored. In general, select this option if you will use the Acrobat barcode forms decoder to interpret the returned data. Do not select this option if you will use a handheld barcode scanner, because most of these cannot decode compressed data.
The preset decode conditions represent recommended starting points that you can adjust by clicking the Custom button.
Opens a dialog box in which you can select custom processing parameters that are best for your specific scanning and faxing hardware. (The available options vary according to barcode types.)
Height/width ratio of the cell. For example, for a data cell that is twice as high as it is wide, enter 2. (Available only for PDF417 barcodes.)
note: If you are planning to decode the barcode using a handheld laser scanner, avoid creating barcodes wider than 4 inches (10.2 cm). Taller and narrower barcodes generally work better with handheld scanners. Barcode height and width will not be an issue if you are using an Adobe barcode decoder (available separately).
Error Correction Level
Corresponds to the level of data redundancy that is added to the barcode to correct any potential decoding errors. Higher levels provide more redundancy and a more robust barcode that will generate more successful decode results. However, higher levels will also result in a larger barcode and a reduced ability to encode user-supplied or form structure data into the barcode. A more robust barcode can reduce problems created by pen marks, poor print quality, degradation caused by fax transmission, or folds in the document. This option is available for PDF417 and QR Code barcodes.
Manage Barcode Parameters
Enables you to save your custom barcode selections in a file. You can then export the file and make it available to other form authors in your organization.
Check Box Style
Specifies the shape of the marker that appears inside the check box when the user selects it: Check (the default), Circle, Cross, Diamond, Square, or Star. This property does not alter the shape of the check box itself.
Note: The size of the marker inside the check box is determined by the size of the font you specify in the Appearance tab.
Specifies a value to represent the item if the data will be exported. If left blank, the entry for Name in the General tab is used as the export value.
For either dropdown boxes or list boxes, you use the Options tab to create a list of items from which the user selects.
Although most of the properties on this tab are common to both these types of form fields, a few are exclusive to one type or the other.
Where you type in a value to represent the item if the data will be exported. If left blank, the entry for Name in the General tab is used as the export value.
Displays the choices that will be available in the list.
note: The highlighted item in the Item List box appears as the default selected item in the dropdown box or list box field. To change the default item, highlight another item from the list.
Up and Down buttons
Change the order in which the items are listed in the drop-down list. These buttons are not available if Sort Items is selected.
Arranges the listed items numerically and alphabetically. A numerical sort (if applicable) is performed before an alphabetical sort.
Allow User To Enter Custom Text
(Dropdown only) Enables users to enter a value other than the ones in the list.
(Dropdown only) Checks the spelling of user-entered text. This option is applicable only if Allow User To Enter Custom Text is selected.
Commit Selected Value Immediately
Saves the value as soon as the user selects it. If this option is not selected, the value is saved only when the user tabs out of the current field or clicks another form field. For list boxes only, this option is not available if Multiple Selection is selected.
Create a group of radio buttons if you want the user to select only one choice among a set of choices. All the radio buttons in a group have the same Name, but each button has a different Button Value.
Specifies the shape of the marker that appears inside the button when the user selects it: Check, Circle (the default), Cross, Diamond, Square, or Star. This property does not alter the shape of the radio button itself.
Radio Button Choice
Identifies the radio button and differentiates it from other radio buttons that have the same Name value.
Button Is Checked By Default
Sets the selection state of the button when the user first opens the form.
Buttons With The Same Name And Content Are Selected In Unison
Allows single-click selection of multiple related radio buttons. For example, if the user selects a radio button that has the same field name and selected content as another, both radio buttons are selected.
Specifies the text that appears until the user overwrites it by typing in the field. Enter the default value by typing in this option.
Allow Rich Text Formatting
Allows users to apply styling information to the text, such as bold or italic. This might be useful in certain text fields where such styling information is important to the meaning of the text, such as an essay.
If you entered a default value, that value is clipped to this limit.
Displays the user-entered text as a series of asterisks (*). This option is available only if Check Spelling is deselected.
Field Is Used For File Selection
Allows the user to enter a file path as the field’s value when a file is submitted along with the form. This option is available only when Scroll Long Text is the only selected option in the Options tab.
Comb Of Characters
Spreads the user-entered text evenly across the width of the text field. If a border color is specified in the Appearance tab, each character entered in the field is separated by lines of that color. This option is available only when no other check box is selected.
A. Four text fields with a border color, using the Comb property B. Text field without the Comb property
Actions properties specify any actions that you want to associate with the form field, such as jumping to a specific page or playing a media clip. The Actions tab appears for all types of form fields and includes the following options:
Specifies the user action that initiates an action: Mouse Up, Mouse Down, Mouse Enter, Mouse Exit, On Focus, or On Blur.
Up and down buttons
Change the order in which the selected action appears listed under the trigger. (Available only when you have defined multiple actions for the same trigger.)
The Calculate tab appears in the Properties dialog boxes for only text fields and dropdown boxes. Use these options to perform mathematical operations on existing form field entries and display the result.
Simplified Field Notation
Field names are case-sensitive.
Custom Calculation Script
When you define two or more calculations in a form, the order in which they are carried out is the order in which you defined the calculations. In some cases, you may need to modify the calculation order to obtain correct results.
For example, if you wanted to use the result obtained from calculating two form fields to calculate the value of a third form field, the first two form fields must be calculated together first to obtain the correct final results.
Acrobat automatically performs all assigned field calculations when you are creating and testing your form fields. For convenience, while you work, you can turn off automatic calculation in the forms preferences.
The Signed tab is available only in the Digital Signature Properties dialog box. Selections made here determine what happens when the user applies a digital signature to the form.
Mark As Read-Only
Prevents further changes to the digitally signed form, according to the selection in the pop-up menu:
This Script Executes When Field Is Signed
The Format tab appears in the Properties dialog box for only text form fields or dropdown form fields. The options that are available depend on your selection in the Select Format Category pop-up menu.
The Example of Current Format field displays a live preview of the settings.
No additional options are available. The input in a text or dropdown box with this property does not require any specific formatting.
Sets the location of the currency symbol in relation to the number. This field is enabled if a currency symbol is selected.
Negative Number Style
Sets how negative numbers are displayed. You can choose Show Parentheses, Use Red Text, neither, or both.
List includes one-, two-, and four-digit variations where d stands for the day, m stands for month, and y stands for year.
List includes display variations where h stands for the hour on a 12-hour clock, H stands for the hour on a 24-hour clock, MM stands for minutes, ss stands for the seconds, and tt stands for AM or PM.
Social Security Number
For a nine-digit U.S. Social Security Number. Hyphens are inserted automatically after the third and fifth digits.
Changes the format category to Custom and makes another text field available, in which you can type a custom format. Use this option to specify which types of characters the user can enter in any given position, and how the data displays in the field.
Custom Format Script
Displays any custom scripts you have added for formats. The Edit button opens a dialog box in which you can write and add new scripts.
Custom Keystroke Script
Displays any custom scripts you have added to validate keystrokes. The Edit button opens a dialog box in which you can write and add new scripts.
The Validation tab appears only in the Text Field Properties and Dropdown box Properties dialog boxes. Validation properties restrict entries to specified ranges, values, or characters, ensuring that users enter the appropriate data for a specified form field.
Field Value Is In Range
Sets a numeric range for form fields using values you enter in either as a number or a percentage.
Custom Calculation Script
Reference To published Form
Shows the path to the PDF form. You can edit this by typing in the URL to the published form. Later, you can re-create a digital version of the completed form by merging the form template with an instance of user-supplied data. You can also maintain the relationship between a specific form template and its related barcode data files. When you encode a barcode using XML values, the URL reference is encoded into the barcode and is displayed on the form, below the barcode.
You can save, reuse, and share a set of custom settings for barcode parameters, to apply them when you create new barcode form fields. You can make further adjustments to your custom parameter sets after you define them.
All of these processes begin by opening the barcode form field properties dialog box. To open the properties dialog box, double-click the barcode field.
The newly defined parameter set appears in the list in the Manage Barcode Parameters dialog box, and all the buttons on the right side of the dialog box become available. The new definition also appears in the Decode Condition menu in the Options tab of the Barcode Field Properties dialog box.
After you change properties for a specific type of form field, you can set those properties as the default set for that type. For example, you can create a checkbox, change its properties, and then save the properties as the default values. The default values can be only for Appearance and Size related attributes of the field. Properties for format related attributes like Date cannot be set as default.
Changing the default properties does not change the settings for existing form fields of that type. The new defaults apply only to new fields that you create.