Work with forms in InDesign

Forms workflow

You can design forms in InDesign and export them directly to PDF. InDesign now supports form fields and other form actions. The Buttons and Forms library (Window > Interactive > Buttons and Forms) has form items that you can use to design interactive forms.

Using InDesign you can create simple forms within InDesign, without needing to touch up the PDF document in Acrobat after publishing. You can add simple form elements within the document pages. Common field types such as text fields, radio buttons, check boxes, or signatures are supported. You can also add actions to submit the form by email or to print it.

In addition to the basic design, you can also use creative capabilities in InDesign to add a designer touch to your form:.

  • Add solid strokes and fills to the PDF form fields.
  • Add custom On, Off, and Hover states for buttons, check boxes, and radio buttons.
  • Specify font size for text input fields.

For example, to collect credit card information, you could use credit card icons as radio buttons, with a different image for the selected state.

For advanced form workflows, you can export the basic form and then continue editing it in Adobe Acrobat.

Add a form field

Use the Buttons and Forms panel to add form fields to the layout. The procedures to add interactive form fields are the same as adding buttons so that you don't have to learn new procedures. You can create a form that works with Adobe Reader or Adobe Acrobat. Using InDesign, you can create some cool forms that you can’t ordinarily using Acrobat.

Buttons and Forms panel
Buttons and Forms panel

  1. Place a frame at the location where you want to place the form field.

  2. Open the Buttons and Forms panel (Window Interactive Buttons and Forms)

  3. Select the frame and choose a form element type from the Type list. Alternatively, right-click a frame and choose Interactive > Convert to [...].

  4. Enter a name for the form field. To create a radio button group, all the individual buttons must have the same name.

  5. Choose an event and add actions to associate with it. Actions such as Clear Form, Print Form, and Submit Form have been added. In the Submit Form action specify the URL as "

  6. For a radio button, check box, or buttons: set appearance attributes for different states. InDesign adds default graphics for the various states, but you can add your own.

  7. For a list box, combo box, or text field: select font family, font type, and font size.

  8. Specify PDF options:

    • Description - Entered value is displayed as the tool tip and is used for creating accessible forms
    • Button Value - this value corresponds to the export value in Acrobat and can also be used to identify a radio button in a group in an accessible form. 

Specify tab order

To create user-friendly and accessible forms, it is necessary to assign a usable tab order. Users can navigate through the form fields without using a pointing device. Pressing the Tab key shifts the focus to the next logical field.

There are two methods of specifying a tab order in a tagged PDF:

  • Use the Articles panel (Window > Articles) to specify a custom tab order
  • Choose Object > Interactive > Set Tab Order.

Use Articles to specify tab order

Use the Articles panel to specify tab order
Use the Articles panel to specify tab order

  1. Open the Articles panel (Window > Articles).

  2. Drag the form fields to the Articles panel.

  3. In the articles panel, drag to reorder the fields in the required order.


To enable screen readers to use the specified order, from the Articles panel menu, enable Use for Reading Order in Tagged PDFs. Remember to enable the Create Tagged PDF option while exporting the PDF.

Use Structure to specify tab order

  1. Choose Object Interactive Set Tab Order.

  2. Click Move Up or Move Down to arrange the items in the desired tab order.

While exporting to interactive PDF, enable Use Structure for Tab Order in the PDF Export dialog box.