Adobe FORMS: create an interactive PDF form for submiss...

Adobe FORMS: create an interactive PDF form for submission

adobe acrobat v1

Amongst the advantages of the PDF format is the ability to exist as individual files that can be printed and sent as email attachments. With Adobe Acrobat DC you can now edit PDF files and include interactive elements that can capture user responses. This makes them an excellent way to act as templates to structure user input. Form examples could include use as Dropbox submission cover notes, job/proposal applications, or for record keeping purposes. If you require it, the software makes including digital signatures an optional part of the final form.

Adobe Acrobat DC is available across NTU as part of the Adobe suite of tools. If it is not already installed on your computer then contact the ITS Service desk to arrange for its installation. Note: if you install the entire Adobe suite it takes considerable time.

How to use it – brief summary

There is a guide to most of its features in Technology Central. Although you set up the interactive fields in Acrobat DC you must start with either a Word document or a scanned document.

  1. Create a base template file in Microsoft Word with headings and captions and approximate spacing – you can tweak these later. You can include tables and their headers.
  2. Open this file in Acrobat DC – Prepare Form mode – it will interpret the structure and headings of the document and assign any interactive fields that it can.
  3. Add in from a range of interactive fields (text boxes, dropdown lists etc).
  4. Set the Properties for each field such as for appearance, font, multi-line, date, or number. Set optional actions such as calculation, opening a file or a web link etc.
  5. You can also add images and controls such asĀ option & check boxes, buttons and digital signatures. You can also structure your PDF form over multiple pages.
  6. Preview the form and make adjustments.
  7. Use the Edit PDF mode to add new headings and captions.
  8. When complete, save as a PDF document.
  9. Distribute by email as an attachment or from NOW (for viewing or download).

Below is a very simple form example showing a number of the fields.

sample form image 1

Adobe also offers a small range of user guides from here.

About the author

The Digital Practice Team promotes and supports the use of digital technology in professional practice. Based in Organisational Development. More about us here:

2 comments on “Adobe FORMS: create an interactive PDF form for submission

  • Pete AKA PedanticPete

    This looks interesting, in the School of Art & Design, we use a project planning form for some of our courses which is a protected word document using dropdown menus, tick boxes, text fields to fill in etc.

    Could you tell me what the advantage of using Adobe FORMS over word? How would you sell it to me? Is it jest easier?


    • Word has for a long time had the ability to create ‘form’ documents that could be filled out and circulated. In my experience it was a fairly long winded operation to create the form and ‘lock it’ so the captions and the interactive areas were separate.
      My opinion is that Adobe DC forms are easier to create. Adobe DC makes it easier by automatically ‘interpreting’ formats that you create in Word such as tables and underlines into online fields. Because the output from Adobe DC is a PDF form it can be viewed in a browser. Unique features include interactive controls that can calculate data from other entered data. If required, forms can be digitally signed and provide a substitute for a user signature. – Paul

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