Join Brian Wood for an in-depth discussion in this video Creating form fields from scratch, part of Acrobat 9 Pro: Creating Forms.
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There may be times where you have a PDF file or some kind of a file and you want to create the form fields yourself. This is because either the Auto Detect or the Recognize did not work, didn't do such a hot job. We want to be able to add them ourselves. We can add form fields pretty easily. So we will take a look at how to add form fields from scratch. Give you an idea of how to set up things like your grids, your guides, how to align these form fields up and some of the best practices when working with form fields. To learn how to do each individual type of field, you are going to go to that video on it.
So, I have got formstart.pdf opened like I said. Make sure you can see your navigation panel on left-hand side over here. Come up under the Forms button up here and you will see we have got Add or Edit Fields. So, this was created in InDesign. It could have been any program, Word, etc. I just figured I would jazz it up a little more, make it look a little better. Convert it to PDF, open in Acrobat and we are going to add some fields now. If you want to do, just click Add or Edit Fields. It's going to ask you if you wanted to Auto Detect form fields for you. If you want to try, click yes.
It may not do a good job. You may have to delete and do more work than you would have otherwise. But in this case, I know it's not going to do a great job. So we are going to click No. So what it does it takes us into Form Editing mode. If you look up top, you will see all the toolbars are gone except for a single toolbar here with some tools on it for forms. Left-hand side, we will see the Fields navigation panel is the only one out there because it really wants you to singularly focus on what you are doing here. You should see the rulers pop out here. If you don't, I will show you how to turn those on. You will also see the buttons up top here, distribute form, which is when you are done how to give it to other people and close Form Editing.
When you are done editing, you can simply close Form Editing. So, just to try this, why don't you click Close Form Editing, it will take you out, show you exactly what we saw a minute ago. To edit again, click on the Forms button, Add or Edit Fields, it will try and Auto Detect again, just say No and we will come right back in, so nice easy way to get in here. Now, once you are in here, we need to start setting a few things up. I would like to zoom in a bit. You will notice up here that we have a plus and minus to zoom in. You can also type in a value. To choose the plus there, click a little bit in and I will use the scroll wheel of my mouse to scroll down.
You can also use a scroll bar in the right. And we will start adding some fields. Now, the rulers are going to help us out. You will notice this up here. The rulers are turned on like coming up to the View menu and you will see rulers. So, if you don't see them, you can turn them on right now. You can tell they are on because you can see them and there's a checkmark over here. Now, when I work with forms, a lot of times, I'd like to be able to line fields up, make it easy on myself so they look nice and pretty, they are all lined up. We can use what's called a grid in here or you can use guides. I will show you the grid, I am not a big fan but you can use it, and I will show you guides, guides are more of what I tend to do.
If you come out to the page anywhere, if you either right-click or Control-click, you will see a bunch of things in the Context menu here. This is something new in Acrobat 9. You can now just pick a field and go to town, start putting it on the page. We will look at those in videos coming up. You will see show tab numbers, grid, all sorts of things. Click Grid, that will turn the grid on for you. What this does, it's like ruler line paper out there so you can line things up. The thing about the grid that, that I kind of don't like, is that suppose I want to line my form fields up right here.
There's no line so I'd have to do it to the left or to the right to be able to snap or line my fields up to the grid. Now, just because the grid is out here also does not mean that objects are going to what's called snap to it. It's just a visual reference. If you want, when you place fields out here for objects to snap they're called, which means hit one of these lines and pull into it, you have got to turn that on. Come under the View menu, you will see Snap to Grid, you turn that on when you place a field. Anytime you get the field near one of these lines, it will suck it to it and stick it on the line.
Now, if you use the Grid, you want to use the Grid, you may want to change its appearance. To do that, we can use some preferences. Come under the Edit menu on Windows, you can come under Acrobat on Mac, and you will see Preferences. Take a look in there at the very bottom of the categories in the left hand side, you will see Units and Guides. If you want to for the Layout Grid, you can change the width between the lines, which is you know one inch is pretty big. You can change the offset, offset means how far is it from the left edge of the page or the top edge of the page and that can be good if you have got a form that's maybe in the lower right corner, it's a small form on a big page.
If you want to change the subdivisions, this is what I tend to do, you can increase them so you have more lines between each one, so I usually do like 10, it's a lot and it gets kind of crazy, but you can also change your grid color. So I tend to change the width between the lines and the subdivisions, just to see what it looks like click OK. And you get a lot more flexibility here, so when you put a field out there, it's going to let you literally snap to any one of these lines, it will just pull it to it. And like I said, I don't tend to use the grid, so what we are going to do is, we are going to turn this thing off if you want to use it, use it.
So either right-click or Ctrl click on the page, you will see grids have got a checkmark, we are going to turn it off. Now the thing about the grid is just because it's off, doesn't mean you are going to snap things to it. You need to tell it not to snap to the grid. So come under View, you will see Snap To Grid, turn that off as well, you will see the shortcuts at the right. The way I typically work with fields is I work with Guides, like I said you do what you want to do, but that's what I tend to do. If you come under View, you will see Guides, we have to turn them on first so that we can actually see them, so turn on the guides. You have to have your Rulers showing, you will see the Rulers out here already.
If you want to put a guide on the page, come to the vertical or horizontal ruler, you will see two rulers and if I want to put a vertical guide, I am going to go to the vertical ruler, I will click, pull down, pull away from the ruler, drag it out here and I want my form fields to line up right here, let's say, in their left edge, so let go, it should put the guide out there. And with guides what you can do is you can delete them, you can move them all sorts of things, they are just there to help you line up form fields. These won't print, so you won't actually see these when you save the PDF file and send it out to somebody else.
I usually will get rid of them anyway because they are not turned on by default, which is good. If you want to move the guide, once you place it out here, you can click on it, you will see your arrow change and drag it left or right, you can reposition it if you want to. If you want to delete it, there's a couple ways you can do this. If you click on the guide, it will turn a different color, press delete that will get rid of it. Another way to do this, click on the Vertical Ruler, hold down, pull away from the Vertical Rulers set another guide, so click on the vertical ruler, hold down, drag out, put it just at the right at the address line 1, address line 2 and release.
So you got yourself a guide out there now. Now if you want to place field out here what I typically do is click to deselect somewhere, that way the guide is no longer selected. As we start to place fields looking on the left here you will see the Fields Navigation Panel, they will start to show up over here. So our job is to decide what kind of field to place and then get them on the page. Right now we have got a place that's called text field. To place the field out here, there's a couple ways to get to the tools. One of the ways comes right up here where it says Add New Field. Click on the button and you will see all the different types of fields we can create.
I will just quickly run through these just so I give you an idea what these are all for. Text field is for your name, things like that, you want to type something in the text. Text fields can also be for numbers, you can make them a number or a price. Checkbox is for a whole array of things you want to choose like MasterCard, Visa, AmEx. Radio buttons are typically Yes/No questions, you can only click on one of them, it only selects one. List box is usually a big box full of options, things like, let's say you want to ask somebody, what their operating system is and if they have multiple, you can say Mac Windows, UNIX etc. They will see them all in this big box and they can click on more than one, that's the idea, so you can select more than one.
Combo box a lot of people think of as a pop-up menu or a drop down menu whatever you want to call it, that's pretty great. You can usually only choose one option in that menu. A button, it's going to be a Submit button of you know Print button, Reset button and such type of things. Digital things here if you want to sign this document, make sure that it is in fact you and it hasn't changed as well Barcodes, barcodes allow you to barcode the page using the USPS Barcodes all sorts of things for mailing or retrieving data. Now when you work with these, your job here is to click on one, so click on text field for instance, come out to the page now if you have worked in previous version, it's going to be a little different.
You do not have to click and drag, if you notice, look at your cursor, you will see this nice big field and it's got these little cross hairs running vertically and horizontally as blue lines. Bring your cursor close to your Guide and it should kind of snap in your guide. We want to place that field right there, so simply click. What that does, it placed the field out there, you don't have to draw it, we can change it though and it immediately comes into what's called Field Name, so we are going to change the Field Name. Like I said before, I usually do lower case, try to do very little spacing, you can use numbers and things like that, but you know try and keep it as simple as possible.
We have the ability to also make this a required field choose Required Field, that means that if somebody fills up this form and they hit Submit, it's going to come up with a dialog box that says "you need to fill this field out." And Show All Properties will take us to the properties for these. I am not going to go into this one right now, simply because if you want to see the individual fields and how they work, go to that video, you will see that later. But we got the field out here now. Couple of other things we can do. Once the field is out there, if you come out, you can actually resize this, so I think it's a little too wide if you look at it.
Come to a corner, click and drag or the side it doesn't matter and you can size it the way you want to. You can move it, click in the middle here you can move it up and down, if you want to do that. We can also delete it, we can do anything we need to do to it. Once you have added this field, we want to add just a few more, so come back up to Add New Field, once again we can choose a type of field we want. Now if you don't like coming up to this button up here, sometimes this gets a little monotonous and it's also a couple of extra clicks, you will notice right here Show Tools on toolbar, choose that and what it does, it puts them all right up here.
Once you learn what all these are, you can simply click on it, so click on the text field which is the first one, notice that it deselects that field that you have on the page right now, because you are about ready to create a new one. Come out to the page, once again you will see the old familiar cross hairs and the box, come to your guide, get it about where you want it and click. This doesn't have to be perfect. Once again we can name this, I will call this LastName, I leave no spaces, I will make this required by choosing Required and I will make it a little bit smaller. So usually that last name is a little bit bigger than first name, so just let that one will be a little bit bigger.
Other ways, we can do this, if you want to create a different type of field, you can also come out to your page, right-click or Ctrl click roughly where you want the field and you can choose the type of field tool you want. So if you want to do in our text field, we can choose Text Field, it will immediately go into that cross hairs and box, and you can place it where you want to. Now there's another way to do this, there's a little bit faster way, if you notice up top, you will see that you've got all you form fields now, you are going to notice an option here called Key Tool Selected, choose Key Tool Selected, click on the field we want, which is the Text Field, click on the Text Field Tool, Comne on out here to your cross hairs, Now it's going to act a little differently.
So suppose we need to put three more company address, address. Let it snap over to the guide, simply click to place it, move your cursor away and it's going to let you just keep clicking here to place multiple fields. The thing about this is it's not going to have you name the fields right away, so you have to remember to name fields, because otherwise if you get this data later on and you are looking at this email and it says Text 14 Evolve or something like that, you might be like well what is that. So click to set the field, move your cursor down a little bit, click to set it again.
Once you are done, we have got all our fields and I want to go and start editing. We are going to go over to this Selection Tool the black arrow, click on the Selection Tool, what we can then do is come out here and move your cursor around as you click on these fields, we can then resize, so I want to resize that one from the side. If you want to rename it, we can right-click or Ctrl click, there are several ways to do this. You will see Rename field, it will pop up that familiar little yellow box and I can call this Company and usually what I do is I will press Enter or Return that will kind of accept it, you can then move on to the next field and click on the Field and start working.
So I will click somewhere to stop that and go ahead and start to rename. So when you start working with fields, like I said we are not going too far into the types of fields and things like that, but this is a nice easy way to get started by putting them on the page. Now another way, you can place a field, I want to show you this, come to the address line 2 and suppose that we want to try something a little different here. Click on that field and press Delete or Backspace, that should get rid of it. Come back up to the Text Field Tool, select that, bring your cursor back out to your page and so far what we have been doing is just clicking and letting it go.
What you can also do is if you click hold down and pull away, you can draw the field. This is what you used to have to do. So I want to get it roughly the size I want. Once you see how big it is, you can release your mouse, it will go out and it will let you draw another one. The reason why it's going to just out to another one, because we have Key Tool Selected. If you turn Key Tool Selected off, the next time you draw a text field, it will automatically ask you for the field name and whether or not it's required. These are ways to draw here, now if you don't want to see the forms tools out here anymore, you can click on this arrow right here, which will hide them, and coming back to the button there I mean you click on the button, you can start working.
So I wanted to give you an idea of how to set fields out here, how to work with guides and grids, just a little bit kind of get your rolling. Next thing, we are going to do is we are going to start to actually work with specific fields in the later videos here, talking about text fields and get to going with how each one of these works separately from the other ones. Keep this open and we are going to start to add some text fields over by the item name 1, item name 2 and etc.