Join Claudia McCue for an in-depth discussion in this video Designing forms with Illustrator, part of Acrobat XI: Creating Forms.
Here in Illustrator I'm creating some art work that's going to become the underlying art work for a format that I'm going to create in Acrobat. So I'm want to provide some visual queues, so that people know where to click so that they can enter their information. Of course in Acrobat I could apply a fill color and a border color to any fields and that would make it obvious where they are. But I really don't want to do that, I'm going to go for sort of the old-fashioned convention of creating lines. So I could do it this way. I could get my Line Segment tool and then where I need a line, I could click, hold down the Shift key to keep it horizontal, and then drag.
Well, that's a perfectly good line, but I need a line between first name and last name, and here between city and state and state and zip. And that's going to become a bit of a juggling match. So frankly, the saner way to do this is by using tabs and tab leaders. So to see what's going on, I'm going to go to Type and Show Hidden Characters and you can see all the little paragraph returns. And to sort of set this up I'm going to start by choosing my type tool and then here in this paragraph I'm going to press my tab key. And that little arrow means I've pressed my tab key.
And to do the same thing in subsequent paragraphs and you might notice that that little paragraph return moves, but it moves different distances depending on the paragraph that it's in. That's because there are sort of default tab positions. They're not official tab stops. But Illustrator says well, you want us to go somewhere. We'll stop over here until you tell us a numeric position. So I'm going to select all four of these paragraphs, and then wake up my tab panel. I go to Window, down to the bottom to type, and then to Tabs.
You have four different species of tabs. Your left, center, right align and then align on decimal. And where tab stops live is in this little bitty narrow band up above the ruler. So I'm going to create a right justified tab that tells that tab to lead all the way up to here. So I'm going to go to the seven inch mark. By the way, didn't quite make it to seven inches. Does that make you twitch? We can easily fix that. I could highlight that value in the tab panel and wipe across it and then delete it, but my favorite way is to just use the arrow keys.
So all I have to do is click in that field, right now it's 7.01, when I hit the down arrow, now it's nice round seven inches. To create the line, I populate the leader field, so all I have to do is type one little underscore and it's going to be repeated, and there you go. And sometimes, depending on your current magnification, it might look like there are little gaps between the individual underscores. There isn't, trust me, everything is all nice and neat. Well, that's fine, but, first name, last name. I need line in between those two entries, so I am going to click, press my tab key and things go crazy.
It says, well, your first tab stop is up here. It's a seven inch right aligned and it has a leader. Well, I need some space so I am just going to start by switching to my Left justify tab. You can do it with either one but I tend to like to use left justify when I know I'm looking for the beginning of something, like last name. I'm just going click and that gives me a good position, and it seems to have remembered the leader. It doesn't always so don't get excited. I think that's pretty good. So now in city, state, and zip, again I'm going to press my Tab key and get started.
And it messes things up, and it takes it to the next line it wraps, but again, we're going to clean up after this. So I'm going to again choose my left align tab, and I'm just going to click and click, just kind of rough things in. Notice that only one of my little tabs gets the leader, so I need to reinstate that on my other little tab stops so all I have to do again, is just type my little underscore, hit an enter and I can see it happen and then I'm going to need another one out here on my little endpoint, and there we go. So chances are a zip is going to be a pretty small field, so I can drag this over. There, that's probably enough.
The state is probably not that long. It's likely that the city name is going to be longer than the state, but you want to leave plenty of room for something like a long name, like California or Minnesota. So, what you might do is use this provisionally, go into Acrobat, start making your fields, and type the longest state name, or longest city name you can think of. You want to give them plenty of room. And make your type size a reasonably small type size in Acrobat. So you can accommodate even some city you've never heard of. Alright. So that gets this part set up. I can close my tabs panel.
Now, down here under sessions, these are three different sessions. And the attendees can go to one or two or three, or none. So, they're sort of related, but they need check boxes. Because those aren't mutually exclusive. So I'm going to press my space bar, just to put a little bit of distance between this check box that I'm about to create and the text, and it might be a little hard to see but I hit my left arrow and now my cursors back at the beginning of the line before that space. Now I could draw a square, I could cut it, and then I could paste it in and reposition it and that would be an anchored object, but I can also find squares in a number of my fonts.
So, to search for that I am going to go to Type and Glyphs, and Myriad Pro has a lot of wonderful features, a lot of wonderful characters but it won't help me out in my search for little square. But I happen to know that Wingdings will. And you might have a different assortment of fonts, but when I choose Wingdings and I just typed WING and that was enough to put me on the trail. As I scroll up and down you can see there are some promising characters that are really helpful in forms. I could have these little fancy ones that have the sort of fake shadow but I think I'm going to go for simple here and just choose this first little simple square.
So again my cursor is blinking over here in the text. I found the little square character that I want to put in here. All I have to do to insert it, is double click. And when I double click, there it is, it's been added to my text. So, I'm going to close my Glyphs panel, and this time, I'm just going to copy that little square and the space after it. I'm going to use Cmd+C or Ctrl+C. You can also use edit copy or right click. And now, when I get into the next line and I paste with Cmd+V or Ctrl+V, there we go.
Saves a little time. You get it right once, then you can repeat it. For this question, attending the reception, these are mutually exclusive responses. Yes, or no. So what I'm going to do here is just create little circles. And I'm going to create them the same way I did with little squares. Again, I'm going press my space bar just to give a little room, I'm going hit my left arrow so that I'm back behind that little space, and I'm going go back to my Glyphs panel and it returns Myriad Pro because that's the font that's being used in the text.
But I've already seen that Wingdings gives me a lot of options for radio buttons and check boxes so there we go, that little circle I think will do just fine. So I'll double click to insert it. You can see it appear in the text, and now I can close the Glyphs panel. And again, I'm going to select that little unit, the circle and the space after, copy that with Cmd+C or Ctrl+C, and then before the N, click and paste. Now, if you're thinking about using the auto-recognition feature in Acrobat, you have to sort of give it the hint that, that little circle belongs with this, that little circle belongs with this.
So, if you put a little space in between, you sort of help it along. So, I'm going to use tabs to do that. Back to Window, down to Type, over to Tabs. And it might be a good idea to double check. Make sure there aren't any still hanging around. If you go to the Panel Menu, because after all, the Tabs Panel is a Panel. It has a Menu. If Clear All Tabs is greyed out, you're good. You know that there's nothing sort of left over from a previous session. I'm going to use my left aligned Tab Stop. And I'm just going to rough it in.
Now notice that it remembers that little leader, so that it remembers, not the stop themselves, so let me clean out that little field and I want to have the yes close enough to attending the reception that it's obvious that it's part of the answer to that and I also want the no close enough. So that you see that it's part of a group, but I want to provide enough air in between that, I have a better chance that that auto recognition feature is going to work. I can close out my Tabs panel, and I can hide my hidden characters. I know that seems redundant. Type show hidden characters, and toggle that off.
And there we go. So it's pretty obvious that these are going to be little check-boxes, because everybody's seen check-boxes, and it's pretty obvious that these are going to be radio buttons. And if I'm lucky, if I create a PDF, take this into Acrobat, when I run that auto-recognition, if that's how I choose to work, I should get a pretty good headstart. It should recognize those check boxes and those radio buttons and that could save me a lot of time.
- Designing forms
- Exporting PDFs from Word, Illustrator, or InDesign
- Creating and editing text fields, list boxes, and more
- Adding buttons and check boxes
- Converting frames to fields
- Creating matrixes
- Adding calculations
- Enabling PDFs for Acrobat Reader