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Creating tab order for PDF forms

From: InDesign CS6: Interactive Documents

Video: Creating tab order for PDF forms

When you're creating a PDF form an important consideration is the tab order. Setting a logical tab order will increase the usability of your form and help people fill it out quicker. Tab order is also important as an accessibility feature of your PDFs. Screen readers and other assistive devices can use the tab order to help someone who's visually impaired navigate through the form. To set the tab order you might expect there to be some kind of control in the Buttons and Forms panel. But it's not there. In fact, there are two ways to set tab order.

Creating tab order for PDF forms

When you're creating a PDF form an important consideration is the tab order. Setting a logical tab order will increase the usability of your form and help people fill it out quicker. Tab order is also important as an accessibility feature of your PDFs. Screen readers and other assistive devices can use the tab order to help someone who's visually impaired navigate through the form. To set the tab order you might expect there to be some kind of control in the Buttons and Forms panel. But it's not there. In fact, there are two ways to set tab order.

The traditional way is by choosing Object > Interactive > Set Tab Order. And here you'll quickly see one reason why it's important to give your form objects descriptive names when you create them. There's no feature to navigate to the form object or highlight it in any way in here, and since it's a dialog box, you can't select any objects in the layout to check which items correspond to these. These are also the names of the form objects that will be read by a screen reader. Once you've given your form objects useful names, setting the tab order is fairly easy.

Just select which item you want to move and click the Move Up or Move Down buttons until you have everything in the order that you want it. So I could move City up or down, and so forth. When you're done, click OK. CS6 adds a new way to set tab order that's more flexible than using the dialog box, and that is to use the Articles panel. The Articles panel is often used to determine the structure and order of content in an EPUB exported from InDesign. It also lets you determine the reading order of content in a PDF and the tab order as well.

You can open the Articles panel by choosing Window > Articles. To create tab order for your form object, you drag and drop them one by one into the Articles panel. So I'll just start with first name, and I can give it a name, and I'll select Include When Exporting, I'll drop in last name, date of birth, and Address.

Note that each form field is a separate article. I don't want to include them all in the same article or I won't be able to set the order correctly. Then to change the tab order I just need to drag articles inside the panel. So if I want to move Address above date of birth, I can do that. So now in the tab order it will come after Last Name and before date of birth. When I'm done setting the order, I'll go to the Articles Panel menu and choose Use Reading Order in Tagged PDF. Now let's export this document to interactive PDF and test our tab order.

I'll save it as Tab on the Desktop, and then in the dialog box I'll specify Tagged PDF, Create Tag PDF, Use Structure for Tab Order, and click OK. Now let's test our tab order. I'll put my cursor in First Name, I'll press tab, I go to Last Name, tab to Address, and then tab to Date of Birth. Creating logical tab order is important for making your PDFs usable and accessible and with CS6 setting the tab order is easier than ever thanks to the Articles panel!

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This video is part of

Image for InDesign CS6: Interactive Documents
InDesign CS6: Interactive Documents

73 video lessons · 24608 viewers

Mike Rankin
Author

 
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  1. 1m 45s
    1. Welcome
      1m 2s
    2. Using the exercise files and scripts
      43s
  2. 22m 41s
    1. Case study: tomaxxi's InDesign shortcuts guide
      4m 19s
    2. Case study: The Magic of Reality app
      3m 20s
    3. Exploring PDF digital magazines: InDesign Magazine
      2m 45s
    4. Looking at digital newspapers: BostonGlobe.com
      3m 44s
    5. Reviewing digital magazines: National Geographic
      4m 58s
    6. Exploring iamboundless.com
      3m 35s
  3. 21m 56s
    1. Setting preferences for interactive documents
      6m 32s
    2. Customizing the workspace
      5m 48s
    3. Understanding intent and presets
      3m 5s
    4. Working with images and swatches
      5m 2s
    5. Installing scripts
      1m 29s
  4. 37m 24s
    1. Using Liquid Layout
      9m 17s
    2. Creating alternate layouts
      4m 4s
    3. Using primary text frames
      3m 49s
    4. Using the Content Conveyor
      5m 42s
    5. Linking text
      4m 32s
    6. Linking page items
      3m 19s
    7. Fitting frames to content
      3m 33s
    8. Using style mapping
      3m 8s
  5. 49m 48s
    1. Reviewing what we're going to build
      1m 56s
    2. Previewing with the SWF Preview panel
      4m 51s
    3. Presentation design tips
      2m 41s
    4. Setting up a presentation file with layers
      4m 53s
    5. Creating a navigation system
      8m 32s
    6. Creating a title and content slides
      7m 57s
    7. Overriding master page items
      5m 59s
    8. Setting page transitions
      4m 34s
    9. Creating hyperlinks
      3m 40s
    10. Using the slug for notes
      4m 45s
  6. 37m 40s
    1. Understanding what we're going to build
      1m 11s
    2. Building an interactive table of contents
      5m 9s
    3. Building a navigation system
      4m 5s
    4. Creating PDF-only buttons
      3m 33s
    5. Using a SWF slideshow in a PDF
      9m 33s
    6. Placing a video and using the Media panel
      5m 44s
    7. Setting navigation points
      4m 28s
    8. Placing a video from a URL
      1m 21s
    9. Creating hyperlinks from URLs
      2m 36s
  7. 18m 6s
    1. An overview of PDF forms
      2m 6s
    2. Creating text fields and signature fields
      3m 13s
    3. Creating list boxes and combo boxes
      3m 55s
    4. Creating checkboxes and radio buttons
      3m 47s
    5. Creating tab order for PDF forms
      3m 14s
    6. Creating Submit, Print, and Clear Form actions
      1m 51s
  8. 53m 36s
    1. Exploring the Animation Encyclopedia script
      10m 57s
    2. Using the Animation panel
      6m 56s
    3. Animating on a motion path
      3m 57s
    4. Animating a list
      4m 29s
    5. Creating navigation buttons
      5m 15s
    6. Creating a multi-state object
      6m 23s
    7. Creating a page number indicator
      2m 57s
    8. Animating an opening page
      3m 9s
    9. Creating a multi-purpose button
      3m 11s
    10. Exporting your presentation and embedded fonts to SWF
      3m 46s
    11. Working with transitions and animation
      2m 36s
  9. 40m 34s
    1. An overview of the DPS workflow and the publishing process
      4m 31s
    2. Creating hyperlinks
      5m 17s
    3. Creating slideshows
      3m 25s
    4. Using the Image Sequence feature
      4m 58s
    5. Adding audio and video
      5m 6s
    6. Creating panoramas
      4m 21s
    7. Adding web content
      3m 56s
    8. Panning and zooming
      4m 1s
    9. Creating scrollable frames
      4m 59s
  10. 27m 18s
    1. Using the Folio Builder panel
      5m 28s
    2. Creating a folio
      5m 28s
    3. Adding articles to a folio
      5m 47s
    4. Using the Content Viewer to preview a folio
      3m 53s
    5. Using the Folio Producer
      4m 54s
    6. Viewing a folio on an iPad
      1m 48s
  11. 49s
    1. Next steps
      49s

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