How to Create Fillable Forms in Adobe

By Lisa Hall

With Adobe Acrobat, you can create fillable PDF forms for applications, surveys or questionnaires. You can insert a variety of fillable form fields into your PDF document: Text fields allow users to type text into a designated text box, check boxes are used to select an answer (such as “Yes” or “No”), and list boxes provide a predetermined set of responses from which users may choose. The steps that follow are for Adobe Acrobat 9, the latest version of the software.

Things You'll Need

  • Adobe Acrobat 9
  • PDF document

Creating PDF Forms

Step 1

Create a PDF or convert an existing document, such as a Microsoft Word or Excel Open Adobe Acrobat 9. Click on “File” then “Create PDF.”

Step 2

Select the appropriate option. To use an existing document, such as a Word or Excel file, choose “From File.” To use a scanned paper copy choose “From Scanner.” To create a blank PDF from scratch, choose “From Blank Page.”

Step 3

The document will then open in Acrobat and allow you to save it as a PDF.

Inserting Fillable Form Fields

Step 1

Once the PDF has been created, click on “Forms” then “Add or Edit Fields.” A popup window may appear asking if you would like Adobe to detect form fields. Choose “No.”

Step 2

Click on “Add a New Field” and select the type of form field you would like (i.e., Text Field, Check Box, List Box, etc). Once selected, move your mouse to the location in the document where you would like to place the fillable field. Click and drag the mouse to make the field taller or wider.

Step 3

Type in the name of the fillable field. Please note: Users will not see this title. It is only visible in the form editing mode.

Step 4

Format the fillable field by double-clicking on it. Select the font and size of the text, color of the text box and other important properties.

Step 5

Click on “Preview” to view the document with the fillable fields. Practice using the fields. If you want to make changes, click on “Edit Layout.” When your are finished creating the fillable form fields, click on “Close Form Editing” to view the document in its standard layout.

Step 6

Save the document.

Tips & Warnings

  • When using a Text Field, it is important to format the text box. Double-click on the field to show its properties. Under “Appearance,” select the font, size and color. If you want the user to be able to type more than one line, go to “Options” and check “Multi-line.”
  • In a List Box, all responses are visible; in a Combo Box, a drop-down menu appears for users to select their desired response.
  • To set the predetermined responses for a List Box or Combo Box, double-click on the field to show its properties. Under “Options” type the responses on the “Item” line and click “Add.”
  • Make sure you have Adobe Acrobat, which must be purchased, and not the free downloadable Adobe Reader. The Reader version does not allow you to create fillable forms.