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While PDFs can be used for printing, they also have interactive features that make them great for forms, brochures, and prototypes. In this course, InDesign insider David Blatner tells you what interactive PDFs are, why they're so useful, and how to make them yourself with Adobe InDesign and Acrobat. Learn to make hyperlinks to websites, other pages in your document, and email; add buttons that navigate, show, and hide content; create a form with check boxes and text entry fields; and embed audio and video. Plus, discover how to add polish with calculations, page transitions, and more.
We have the makings of a form here, at least we have the labels. Let's go ahead and select this text frame and zoom in to 200% with a Cmd+2 or Ctrl+2 on Windows. And we can see that all of these labels are right in position. Now, you can put labels in a single text frame like I've done here, or you could put each one in a separate frame. It doesn't really matter. Some people use tables to ensure all the labels are aligned properly, which can be really helpful. But however you create it, it's a good idea to get the underlying structure of the form finished before you start adding form fields.
Because while it's pretty easy to move your form fields around later, it's kind of a hassle. So, now I obviously need to add some text entry fields here for people to type their name and their email address. To do that, I'd simply go grab a frame. You could use any frame in InDesign, text frame, graphic frame, unassigned frame. I usually use graphic frames, the ones with an x in them, just because they stand out more obviously on the page. I'll click, and drag out a frame, and then you could colorize it if you want to. For example, I'll go in here, and fill this with some yellow, may be change the tint to, say 20%. Now here's the key step.
Here's what turns an ordinary into an editable text entry field. While this frame is selected on the page, I'm going to go to my Buttons and Forms panel. I have Buttons and Forms open in my doc right now. If you don't find it there, then you can go to the Window menu, and choose Interactive > Buttons and Forms. Here inside the Buttons and Forms panel, I'm going to go to the Type pop-up menu right at the very top. And I could choose Button, that'll just turn this into a regular button like we talked about in an earlier chapter. But I'm going to choose Text Field all the way down here at the bottom. That's it.
Now it'll be a text field when I export it to PDF. But before I move on I'm going to do a couple of things, it's really important to change the name, you see that by default InDesign gives it this random name like Text Field 8. So, I'm going to select that, delete it and I'm going to type in name, after all the person is going be typing in a name into this field. Technically, I could add an event and actions to text field so that something happens when you click in here, but I'm not going to do that because this is just going to be a regular text field.
What I will do however, is go down here to the bottom of the panel and I can see PDF Options, the first thing I'm going to do is give this a description, the description shows up as a tool tip. In other words, if somebody hovers over this field, it can give them instructions about what to do. So I'll just type, Type your name. You'll see that you also have some options for those fields. For example, will this print? Is it required? Yes, this is definitely going to be a required field, somebody has to fill this out before they can submit it. Is it a password? No this is a name, but if I did turn this checkbox on, then Acrobat would actually hide what I was typing so that someone looking over my shoulder or something couldn't see what I had typed.
You also have some options like Read Only. It's pretty rare that you need a Read Only text field entry. Multiline is helpful though because sometimes you'll have a large entry field, something like a comment. Type your comment in here. And you might want to have multiple lines, not just one. So, you'd turn that checkbox on for that. And finally, Scrollable, if somebody does put a lot of text in there, so much that it actually fills the frame, will it turn into a scrollable field or will it just click it off? I generally leave the Scrollable checkbox on.
And finally we can change the font size. I'll just leave that set to 12 points right now. Now, what you cannot do is set the default font or any default text that you want in there. Let's say you want to have some sample text that somebody might want to type. You cannot set that in InDesign. You'd have to do that in Acrobat. So, we have our name field, now we want one for email. To get that I'll just select my selection tool, and then Option+Shift, or Alt+Shift, drag it down, and that just makes a duplicate. I'll turn off Required for this one, and I'll change my description to Email Address Please. And I'll change the name, again, that's going to be the most important identifier in Acrobat.
Now sometimes you want to give your audience some items to choose from instead of letting them type stuff in themselves. That's where List boxes and Combo boxes come in. Lets add one down here. I'm just going to grab a frame. Again I like using the Graphic Frame tool but you can use any frame tool you want and I'm going to drag out a frame here. To turn it into a List box I'm going to go to the Type pop-up menu in the Buttons and Forms panel and choose List Box. While this is open let me explain the difference between Combo boxes and List boxes.
Both options let your audience choose from a list. A Combo Box is what I call a pop-up menu, like this Type pop-up menu, this is a type of Combo Box. When you choose Combo Box, your audience will see just one item from that list and it gives you a little arrow and if they click on that, they can choose a different item from the list. A List Box, however, is different. A List Box actually shows you all of the items in the list, as long as there's enough space to show them. In a Combo box, the user can only pick one item from the list.
In a List Box, the user can pick more than one item if they want. Whichever one you choose, you get the same basic user interface, down here. You have all the PDF options that we just talked about, but you also get this list item section. I'm going to let the person that's looking at this form pick from student, faculty or public, and I only want them to choose one of those. So in this case I'm not going to choose List box, I'm going to choose Combo Box. Now I'm going to add items to my list, and you do that by clicking in here, the List Items field, and typing the first item.
I'll type student, and then you have to click this plus sign, that adds it to the list. I'll click back in the list items field, and say Faculty, hit the plus sign, click back in the list, and say Public and then plus again. Now, all three of these items will show up in the list, or I should say Combo Box, or pop-up menu, that will show up when I export this out as a PDF. You can not preview Combo boxes or List boxes inside InDesign. You have to export them out and look at them in Acrobat.
Let's test all these fields out and see how they work. I'll go to the File menu and I'll choose Export. I'll make sure Adobe PDF Interactive is chosen in the format pop-up menu. because remember buttons and fields only work, when you choose PDF Interactive, then I'll click Save. I'll use the settings that I've been using all along in this dialog box and just click OK. When the PDF opens in Acrobat, I can see that my text field entries and the pop-up menus work. Check that out, there's a little pop-up menu and I can choose from among those items, just one at a time.
And the name field is highlighted in red. That's because it was a required item. So, I can click in here and type my name, then I can click in email and type in my email address. So, that's terrific, but in the next movie we'll add two new types of fields, checkboxes and radio buttons.
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