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Designing for neatness

From: Acrobat X: Creating Forms

Video: Designing for neatness

Acrobat gives you some tools for making your forms nice and neat, looking more professional. Let's look at one of those tools. We'll look at a grid; View>Show/Hide>Rulers & Grids>Grid. So there's the blue grid. Now if I take my Select Object tool and I start moving my fields around, I can use the grid as a visual guide, but my fields don't snap to it. So by default, they don't respond to the grid. By the way, if you want to change the measurements of the grid, here's how you do that. On Windows, you go to Edit and Preferences; on the Mac you are going to find Acrobat up here, and you'll go to Acrobat Preferences, slight difference, but you'll end up the same place.

Designing for neatness

Acrobat gives you some tools for making your forms nice and neat, looking more professional. Let's look at one of those tools. We'll look at a grid; View>Show/Hide>Rulers & Grids>Grid. So there's the blue grid. Now if I take my Select Object tool and I start moving my fields around, I can use the grid as a visual guide, but my fields don't snap to it. So by default, they don't respond to the grid. By the way, if you want to change the measurements of the grid, here's how you do that. On Windows, you go to Edit and Preferences; on the Mac you are going to find Acrobat up here, and you'll go to Acrobat Preferences, slight difference, but you'll end up the same place.

Down at the very bottom of the list, choose Units & Guides. So if I have Width between lines, both Height and Width, 1 inch, may be I want 10 subdivisions. So I'll make 10 subdivisions, click OK and you might notice a subtle change in my grid. Still, my fields have not been told that they need to snap to the grid. So that takes a second choice. Go to View>Show/Hide>Rulers & Grids, and choose Snap to Grid. Now as I start to move them around, you see that sort of jerky motion. It's because now the fields are going to snap to the grid.

So as I move them, I want their top edges to align and that's very easy to do. However, we will tell you that it's rare that this grid lines up with your underlying artwork. Here I don't have any underlying artwork, so I have sort of free reign. So you might find that even though the grid is nice for neatening things up, it may actually fight you when you're trying to match your artwork, but at least now you know it's there. If I go to View>Show/Hide>Rulers & Grids, and turn off the grid, these fields are still going to snap to that grid, even though I don't see it, it's still active.

So you have to remember to go back to View>Show/Hide>Rulers & Grids, and turn off Snap to Grid or it will kind of drive you nuts as you try to match up to your artwork. Let me show you what I think is an easier way to make your forms nice and neat. I want to select all three of these form fields and I want their top edges to all line up with the top edge of Text1. To select them all, I have two methods I can use. I will click on Text1, hold down Shift, and select Text2. I am still holding down Shift and I click on Text3. That's one method.

Here's another one. Just click and drag and create a selection marquee that touches all three; it doesn't have to totally encompass them. It just has to touch them and now I have all three of them selected. Notice that two of the fields have light blue outlines and one has a dark blue outline. That dark blue outline is significant; it means that this is going to be the key field when I perform an alignment. It means that field is going to hold still and the other selected fields are going to match it. I am going to right-click, choose Align, Distribute or Center and choose Align Top and notice that Text2 and Text3 move up, so their top edges align with Text1.

Pretty straightforward! I am going to undo, so that we can try something else. What if I want Text1 and Text3 to line up with the top edge of Text2? To change the key field, the field that's going to hold still and govern the other fields, hold down Shift and click on that field. Notice now it has a dark blue background. Right-click>Align, Distribute or Center> Align Top, and see, Text1 and Text3 move to match the top edge of Text2. So just remember that Shift+click to choose a field to be the key field in an operation like that.

What if I want all these fields to be the same width and height as Text2? Very easy to do with a contextual menu; right-click and choose Set Fields to Same Size. Notice what the options are, adjust the Height, adjust the Width, or Both. I think I will go for Both. So now Text1 and Text3 are the same size as Text2. So you can see, you could actually put your fields in pretty quickly and not worry about being very neat, and then use these operations to make things neat after the fact. Let's look at Distribution. So I am going to move these fields to kind of a sloppy random pattern.

First of all, I am going to make them all the same size, because I just think that would be nicer. So I am going to select them all with that marquee drag, Text1 is the one I want them all to match, right-click>Set fields to Same Size>Both. There we go! Now, when I choose Align, Distribute or Center, if I choose Distribute Vertically, what's going to happen is Text1 at the top, Text6 at the bottom are going to hold still, and the other fields are going to move, so that the distance between them is the same. It's a little hard to tell with them all spread out like that, so I am going to align their left edges, and there you can see, nice and neat.

So keep this in mind; you may find it easier to work a little loosely when you start to create your fields, and then use this contextual menu to control the size, control the position in the page, and neaten up your form, so that it's nice and professional when you're done.

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Acrobat X: Creating Forms

38 video lessons · 16094 viewers

Claudia McCue
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