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Adobe Acrobat isn't a design program. It can't do page layout like Adobe InDesign, it can't draw like Illustrator, it is not a Word processor like Microsoft Word, and that's why you always create your underlying form artwork in another program, save or export it to PDF, then bring it into Acrobat, and then turn it into an interactive form. Now there is a feature in Acrobat called Forms Auto Recognition. It will look at the content of this artwork and try to figure out where there ought to be form fields. Now when you first hear that, you think, oh great! Now I am not going to have to learn how to make form fields at all.
I have some good news and some bad news. The good news is that the auto recognition feature is pretty good; the bad news is it isn't perfect, and there are times when it fails to create a field or it creates fields where you don't want them. Let's see what happens in this PDF when I use the auto recognition feature. To do that, I go to Tools>Create, and it says do you want to use the current document or browse to a file, or would I even want to scan a paper form and use the OCR features? Well, I am going to use the current PDF, of course. So when I click Next, it says are you sure, wouldn't you like to look for another file? Nope, I want to use this one.
It happens so fast that this little dialog is kind of handy, it says, by the way, you are now in form editing mode. When I click OK, you can see that it has made fields. You can see I am in a slightly different environment. If you want, you can think of forms editing as sort of a separate module of Acrobat. Notice up in my toolbar, my tools have changed, now it shows me the forms creation tools, and I have a bunch of fields. But not everywhere, notice here under Bullet Style Squares: Wingdings, it saw those little squares and then it ignored them. Why? I wish I could answer that for you.
I really can't tell you how to predict when this forms auto recognition won't work. Basically, you just have to run it and see what spots it misses and then you have to sort of clean up after. The reason I labeled these Manually- created squares and Bullet Style Squares: Wingdings, I was doing sort of a science project to see what worked and what didn't when I used the auto recognition feature. These are styles used to create the squares in InDesign; they didn't seem to survive the trip. These were little manually inserted squares and they seemed to work.
Don't count on that being the case, all I'm trying to tell you really here is that sometimes it recognizes things you think it ought to, and sometimes it doesn't. So that's why I say you have to be sort of emotionally prepared for this to not be perfect and you really do have to learn how to make form fields. So, this will give you a headstart, but it won't necessarily finish off your forms for you.
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