PDF forms basics

This document explains the PDF forms basics in Acrobat DC. (For more information or question/answer on PDF forms, click the appropriate link above.)


About forms

You can fill in forms using either Acrobat or the free Acrobat Reader. You can create static or interactive forms in Acrobat. Interactive forms streamline the process of filling in and collecting data.

You can use Acrobat to create forms using one of the following methods:

  • Convert an existing electronic document (for example an Adobe PDF, Microsoft Word, or Excel document) to a PDF form.

  • Scan a paper form to convert it to a PDF form.

After you convert an existing document to a PDF form, you can add fields to it to convert it to an interactive form.

An interactive form can be filled out on a computer and submitted through an Internet or local network connection.

Forms preferences

Set forms preferences to control various aspects of your interaction with form fields.

In the Preferences dialog box, select Forms on the left. The forms preferences are organized in three sections: General, Highlight Color, and Auto-Complete.


The forms preferences apply to the way the application handles open forms as you work. The preferences aren’t saved with the PDF forms themselves.


Automatically Calculate Field Values

Automatically performs all field calculations upon user entry.


The setting for this option only applies to your current session.

Automatically adjust tab order when modifying fields

Resets the tab order when you create, delete, or move form fields.

Show Focus Rectangle

Indicates which form field currently has the focus.

Show Text Field Overflow Indicator

Displays a plus sign (+) in text fields that exceed the bounds specified when the fields were created.

Show Field Preview When Creating Or Editing Form Fields

Displays the appearance of a form field when you create or edit forms.

Automatically Detect Form Fields

Detects the form fields automatically and places the respective fields.

Highlight Color

Show Border Hover Color For Fields

Displays a black outline around a form field when you place the pointer over it.

Fields Highlight Color

Opens a color picker for selecting the color of highlighted form fields. The highlight appears when the Highlight Existing Fields button on the document message bar is clicked.

Required Fields Highlight Color

Opens a color picker for selecting the border color of form fields that must be filled in. The border appears for required form fields when the Highlight Existing Fields button is selected or after you attempt to submit the form.


Auto-Complete menu

Displays three options for Auto-Complete: Off, Basic, or Advanced.

Remember Numerical Data

Suggests your previously entered numerical entries when you type the same first character into a similar field. When deselected, Auto-Complete offers suggestions only for text entries. (Available only when Basic or Advanced is selected.)

Edit Entry List

Displays current entries stored in the Auto-Complete memory. You can select and delete any entries that you don’t want to keep for filling in future forms. (This option isn’t available if no entries are in the memory.)

Links to all forms topics

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