Join Claudia McCue for an in-depth discussion in this video Designing forms with Word, part of Acrobat XI: Creating Forms.
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This Word document is going to serve as the basis for both a paper form and a PDF version of the form. Obviously in the paper version, it would be nice if there were lines so that people knew where to write. And those lines can come in handy in the PDF version as well. Because they're a visual hint where the user ought to click, and place their cursor and start typing. So, how should I draw those lines? Well, I could press my underscore key 100 times, or I could take a more clever approach, which is by using tab stops and leaders. So I'm going to turn on my hidden characters, so you can see what's going on.
From first name down to email, those are the paragraphs that need lines, and when I look at my ruler. Looks like the seven inch mark would be a position for the end of those lines. So first, I need some tabs so I'm just going to click after name, press my tab key. Notice how far over it pushes that paragraph return. That's because there are sort of informal tab stops about every half inch. If you don't create a dedicated tab stop, that's what Word does. But, pressing your Tab key 14 times is not the answer. You need to set up official tab stop positions.
Alright, so I have my tabs in. I'm going to select all of these paragraphs so that I can do the lines all at once. So, how do I choose the position and the type of tab? Well, it's easy to overlook, but at the upper left-hand corner, there's this little bitty icon. And this lets you click to cycle through the different kinds of tab stops you could have. So, I could have a bar tab which actually doesn't stop your text. There's my left align tab, there's my center align, and there's my right align. Right align is the one I want. So I choose that type of tab stop, push my cursor on the bottom edge of the ruler, and then just click.
And you can see immediately, paragraph returns jump over to that common point. But I need the lines so to create that leader I just double click right on the little stop that I just created on the ruler. That brings up my Tabs dialogue and this is what I want, the number four leader is all underscore. Unfortunately there is no preview but just click set and okay and there you go. But two of these paragraphs need different treatment. I need a line between first name and last name and I'm going to do that in the same way. So, I'm just going to position my cursor before the L in last, press my Tab key.
Now things are crazy for a minute because the only tab stop I have in that paragraph right now is that right aligned one. At the seven inch mark, so I'm going to put a left align tab, so I'm just going to keep clicking on that little icon until I see my left align tab come up and that's going to govern the position of the word last in last name. So, again, I just put my cursor on the bottom edge of the ruler and click, there's my new little tab stop. I just double click it. Bring up my little tabs dialog and choose my leader yet again. Now if I think that first name's going to be longer than the last name, then I can just reposition this little guy.
I can just drag him on the ruler, and there we go. And the tab leader follows that of course. For city, state, and zip, I need two lines. One between city and state, one between state and zip, so again, I'm just going to press my tab key and get the tabs in there, and then I'm going to go back, and create the stops. So I need to make sure that I'm still clicked in that paragraph. These are going to be left aligned tabs as well. So I'm just going to click and make one at about the three inch mark. Double click on that little stop to provide that leader. And click number 4, Set, and OK.
And then I need one to position the word Zip. So I'll try for about the six inch mark. When I Double-Click on that, and it brings up the dialog where I can specify the leader, this can trick you. It seems to want to choose the left most of your tabs stop. That's not the one I need to apply a leader to it. It already has a leader. But the one I want is around the six inch mark, so I have to choose that to make sure I'm targeting the correct stop. Then choose my leader, click Set, and then click OK. So I want to make sure there's enough room for the name of their city. And there's no way to know what they need.
But the state, let's assume what's the longest name? Probably Minnesota or California, we want them to have room for that. Now they might write the abbreviation, but we don't know. And we want to make sure that there's enough room for the zip. And as you can see, the leader always follows that tab. Now down here under sessions, these three sessions, insulating, meet, and how you can get even greener, these are going to be available to the attendees of this show. They can go to one session, two sessions, three sessions, or no sessions, whatever they want. In the PDF form I'm going to create check boxes.
So those would be little square icons so I'm going to make room for them by pressing my space bar. It's nice to have a little distance between the check box, artwork, and the text. Then I'm going to click here and to go and get this special character that's going to give me the little square I go up here to my insert menu. And then over here on the right I can choose Symbol and there are a few available for me, but I can go shopping if, maybe, those don't quite meet my needs. So when I click More Symbols I can shop through Wingdings. Now there's a nice square.
I'll probably come back and use that one, but whatever font you have active on your system becomes eligible here. So I could choose from Wingdings or IWingdings 2 or 3 or Webdings, but I think this square in Wingdings is probably going to do the job. So I just choose it and then click insert and then I can close. And there's my little square. And to save myself a little trouble, I'm going to copy that and I can just use Ctrl+C to copy it. And then just click in the next line and paste with control V and then the same thing in this last line.
Now in this last little paragraph, I need little circles because these are going to be radio buttons and circles, people tend to associate with radio buttons. So again, I'm going to put in a little space by pressing my space bar and then I'm going to go searching for another symbol. So I'm going to click symbol, go to more symbols. And recently used symbols show up here in this little strip. And that can be kind of handy. That can save you some time. But I do want to show you what characters are available to you. So there's a nice circle. Or if you want a little dimension to it, you could choose that one.
But I think this one'll do. I'll click insert, and then close. And again, I'm going to save myself a little time by copying with Ctrl+C, you could do it with the right click as well, and then I'm going to paste with Ctrl+V. So now I have my art work and again, this is going to pay off in the paper form as well. But when this becomes a PDF form, it might be nice if the user could click on this as a hyperlink down here, where it says for more information, and then go immediately to the website. So, I'm going to select this, and go to Insert, and choose Hyperlink.
And because it recognizes that text, it says text to display. And then of course what I want is an existing file or webpage. It's going to propose to hook me up to some other items, like documents. But this is what I want, here's my address. And it picked that because I had the text highlighted. And when I click okay, Word automatically formats this text to be that sort of blue-purple and underscore because we all have this kind of Pavlovian connection between that kind of text and something we should click. So they won't be able to click on it on the paper form, obviously, but this will give me a little bit of a head start when I go to generate my PDF form.
My hyperlink will already be in place. So, there you can see how you can create lines for people to write on, or to serve as positioners for when you start creating your form fields in Acrobat, and all of these features pay off in both the paper version of the form, and in the interactive PDF version of the form.
- 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