How to Create a PDF From FDF

By Tom Chmielewski

A Forms Data Format file or FDF is a data only file that is extracted from a PDF Form. These data only files use much less space than the original PDF. Using Adobe Acrobat, an FDF can later be imported into another PDF file or into a file created by another application, such as a spreadsheet, and once imported, saved as a PDF.

Import FDF Into Forms

Step 1

Open a PDF form where you want to read the data sent to you in an FDF, such as the responses in an individual application form. The names of the form fields in your PDF must match those in the original form.

Step 2

Choose “Clear Forms” under the Forms menu to clear any data in your PDF. Imported data will overwrite information placed previously in your form, but if imported data includes blank form fields, those fields will not be cleared of original data.

Step 3

Select “Import Data” from “Manage Form Data” under the Forms menu. Select the FDF format in the “File of Type” drop down menu in the “Select File containing Form Data” dialog box. Locate the file you want to import and click "Select." The new data fills in the fields on your existing PDF form.

Merge FDF Data

Step 1

Choose “Merge Data Files Into Spreadsheet” from Acrobat's Forms/Manage Form Data menu.

Step 2

Click “Add Files” in the “Export Data From Multiple Forms” dialog box, and choose FDF as the File Of Type option.

Step 3

Locate the individual form files you from which you want to merge the data, and click "Select."

Step 4

Click “Export,” and select a folder and filename for the spreadsheet and click “Save.”

Step 5

Click “View File Now” in the “Export Progress” dialog box to open the spreadsheet file. Save or export the new spreadsheet file as a PDF to distribute.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you use Acrobat’s PDF Portfolio response file to gather form responses, you only need to use the "Export Data” button in the left navigation panel to export the FDF data into a spreadsheet.

References & Resources