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Creating text fields

From: Acrobat X: Creating Forms

Video: Creating text fields

The most common type of form field you're going to create is the text field. All the fields that you see in this PDF are text fields but some of them have some special features. The Name field is pretty simple. Just type whatever you want and it appears in the text field. Same for the Address field but the ZIP Code field is a little special. If I try to type a letter in that field, it won't accept it, it will only accept numbers. So, when I type numbers, it will also only accept five numbers and that's because the format of that field says hey, I'm a ZIP Code field and I take a five-digit ZIP code.

Creating text fields

The most common type of form field you're going to create is the text field. All the fields that you see in this PDF are text fields but some of them have some special features. The Name field is pretty simple. Just type whatever you want and it appears in the text field. Same for the Address field but the ZIP Code field is a little special. If I try to type a letter in that field, it won't accept it, it will only accept numbers. So, when I type numbers, it will also only accept five numbers and that's because the format of that field says hey, I'm a ZIP Code field and I take a five-digit ZIP code.

Let's see what happens in the Phone field. Again, I'm going to type digits. It only accepts a maximum number of digits that would constitute a phone number and when I hit my Tab or Enter key to commit to that value then it reformats the way it looks, puts parentheses around the area codes and then hyphenates the remaining numbers. What about the Date? I've tried it with hyphens but when I tab to commit to that value, the formatting changes, so that it's divided by slashes and again, it's a behavior that's built into this field.

For the Credit Card Number, this is not my credit card number and this is what's called a calm field. So notice how the numbers fall neatly into those individual little squares. You might notice too that they are formatted a little bit differently from the other fields; the other fields are using Helvetica, this is using Courier and again it's just part of the default behavior of that kind of field. This is what's called a multi-line text field. So if you want somebody to type in a comment or type a whole paragraph about something, as you keep typing, if it's going to overflow, the text gets smaller and smaller and smaller.

There's a range of text size from 2 points to 300 points and this is set to auto, so that you don't have to pick a hardwired number. This way it's going to accommodate whatever somebody types in. Now, to create all my text fields, first, I go to Tools and choose Edit. Now, Acrobat offers to auto detect. That would be cheating, so I'll click No. Now that I'm in form editing mode, you can see all the form creation tools up here. I'll choose my Text Field tool. You might notice that vertical and horizontal dotted line, that's trying to help you align with your artwork.

It can be sort of handy. I'm just going to name this name and to dismiss this little yellow mini dialog, I just click outside it. What if I want to control something about the formatting of that field? I'm going to make another field; this would be my Address field. I'm going to start as I did before but then I'm going to click All Properties. That brings up my Text Field Properties dialog and you'll notice all these tabs across the top. We'll do just a quick skate across them; General, Name and Tooltip. If you want the user to have something that informs them as they hover over the field, it's a good idea to put something in the Tooltip field.

I'm going to put work address. Form Field Visible, certainly. Under Appearance, because I have underlying artwork I don't want to cover-up, I'm going to leave the Border Color and Fill Color at None. I might want to change the size of the text. Maybe I'll set that to 14. Under Options, I could change the Alignment, Left, Center and Right. I can also put in a Default Value. The only thing about the Default Value is it might happen that the user overlooks that and thinks oh, I fill that out and maybe it's not what they want to put in there.

So, this isn't something you often use but just kind of be aware of it. There aren't going to be any actions that happen when they type in this field and nothing special about the formatting for this field. There'd be no validation but I want to make you aware of this. If it's a number, maybe that has to be let's say between 2 and 100, you could say that it has to be validated to be in that range. Why it's grayed out? Now it's because this is not set to be a Number. Now, if I go to validate, I could say that it's in a certain range. Well, this is an Address field, so that's not appropriate.

So we go back and say nothing for that special format and there aren't going to be any calculations in here. So, just a quick skate just to make you aware in general what are under all these little tabs. Click Close. Now, we'll start making some of the special fields. Again, with my Text Field tool, I'm going to click and drag and make my ZIP Code field. Name it zip and hit All Properties. I'm going to give the user a little bit of help, I'm going to say 5-digit ZIP code.

That way they know not to enter the ZIP +4.Again, for the Appearance, Border Color, Fill Color, I'm going to leave that at None, but what I'm going to do that's going to control formatting in this field is go to the Format tab, under format category choose Special and then I can see that ZIP Code option. And when I choose that ZIP Code option, what's going to happen is that that field will no longer accept letters and it'll only accept five digits. So, if you try to put in six digits, it won't allow that. Click Close and there we go.

Now, for the Phone number field, very similar to what we did with the ZIP Code field. Again, I'm going to name it phone and click All Properties. Under Format, notice that it jumped right to that Format tab, it's trying to give you a little bit of a head start, it says you did that with the last field, maybe you want to do the same thing here. That would save you a little time. So again, I'm going to choose Special. I'm going to choose Phone Number and there aren't any other options; it has its own little formatting that's already set up and you can't change that and that's what puts the area code in parentheses and does the hyphenation. Now, for the Date; let's click and drag.

Click my Date field, I don't think it needs to fill that whole line, and this is a date format. There's a multitude of formats you can choose for the date. What it controls is not how that data is entered but how it's going to look after you exit that field. So I'm going to go for double-digit month, double-digit day and then four-digit year. There's a little example down here to show you what it's going to look like. It's a good idea to take a look at that to make sure that you didn't accidentally picked the wrong format, one you don't want.

So, when I click Close, there we go. Now for the Credit Card Number and this is sort of an odd one. You don't make a separate little text fields for each one of those little squares, you make one big text field that covers the whole thing and then before you go into the dialog, it behooves you to count how many little squares you'll need. I happen to know it needs 16. So, I'm going to name it cc for credit card and then click All Properties. This isn't under the Format tab; it's under the Options tab and it's sort of an odd thing hiding in plain sight.

This is the option I want at the bottom, comb of 16 characters, but it's grayed out. It's sort of an odd thing but you won't be allowed to create any combs if you have any of these other checkboxes checked. Don't know why? That's just how it is. Uncheck Scroll a long text, uncheck spelling and look it comes to life. Check that Comb option and hopefully, you've already counted how many you need. I cheated and counted ahead of time, I know we need 16 and then click Close. Now to finish, I'm going to create the little text field that's going to hold the user's comments.

Again, Text Field tool, I'm going to name it comments, of course, and click All Properties. Under Options, I'm going to choose Multi-line and that allows the user to type multiple lines of text. It will scroll along text so forth and so on. I'm going to do one more thing. Under Appearance, I'm going to change the Font Size to Auto. In that way, if they type a ton of stuff, the text is going to get smaller and smaller and smaller, so that it all fits in there. I'm going to click Close, let's test the form.

So, to test the form, I have to exit form editing, so I click Close Form Editing. Now, I'm back out in the main part of Acrobat. You can see that all my fields have that blue highlighting. By the way, if that bothers you while you're working on forms, you can turn it off. At the upper right, just click Highlight Existing Fields and there you go. It's a good way to test whether you've made all your fields but sometimes you just get tired of looking at it. So, we'll do the Name. Everything's fine. When I hit Tab, it goes to the next field and then the Address then the ZIP Code.

It won't accept a letter, that's good and it will only accept five numbers, that's good. Phone number, as I tabbed to exit that field, it changes the formatting. Let's see how the Date field does. I'm just going to type 06-12-2012. When I tab out, it puts in the slashes, and then we'll do the fake Credit Card Number and notice how it puts all the numbers in those little areas, isn't that cute, and then for the Comments, there we go. So, there we go.

So those are the most common types of fields you're going to be making; text fields and it's a look at some of the types of text fields you'll create now and then like ZIP Codes, Phone fields, Date fields and Credit Card Numbers and then the Comments field with the multi-line text field. So, that's a quick look at creating and changing the formatting of text fields.

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Acrobat X: Creating Forms

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