This video will help you begin to understand form objects in InDesign. With Form Objects, you can create great-looking PDF forms that users can complete and submit. You can add text fields for users to type in, radio buttons, list boxes and combo boxes to offer choices. All of these form objects are demonstrated in this video.
- [Instructor] With form objects you can create great looking PDF forms in InDesign that users can complete and submit in a PDF. So let's check out PDF form objects. Here in our exercise file we have a magazine subscription form that we saw in an earlier movie and it includes radio buttons for selecting a one or two year subscription, text fields for entering information, like a Name, an Address, and so on, it has list boxes where you can choose a State, and a Credit Card, it has a checkbox to sign up for e-mails, and a button to Submit the form.
So let's see how some of these things were created. I'll switch over to InDesign and to add form elements I need to use the Buttons and Forms panel. I'll start by selecting the frame that I wanna use for the First Name field with the Selection Tool. Right now this is just a plain InDesign text frame, but with it selected I'll go to the panel and I'll choose Type, Text Field. I'll give it a Name, First Name. I don't need to attach any Actions, but down in the PDF Options I'll make it Required, that way readers can't submit the form without putting something in this field.
And I'll increase the Font Size to 18 points to make it a little closer to the size of the surrounding text. Let's repeat this process for several of the other form fields by selecting the frames, so I'll just Shift + click to select these, Last Name, Address, City, ZipCode, Phone, and E-Mail, and then with them all selected I'll choose Type, Text Field. I can make them all Required, change the Font Size to 18 points for all of them, and now I can select them one-by-one and give them their unique names.
So this'll be Last Name, Address, City, ZipCode, Phone, and E-Mail. Next I'll go ahead and work on list boxes, like this one where folks can choose their Credit Card.
So I'll select the frame, choose Type, List Box, and now I need to add the List Items. So I'll click in that field and I'll type Visa, press Return or Enter, and in the same way I'll add MasterCard, Discover, and American Express. And to make it clear that folks need to choose one of the items in the list I'll set it to display the word Choose by default.
So I'll add an item called Choose, and click and drag it to the top. And lastly, I won't forget to add the Name Credit Card. Now this list was pretty short, but some lists can be very long and tedious to work with, like this one here where we'd need to type in the names of all 50 states. Unfortunately, InDesign doesn't have a feature to import a text list into a form field. However, like a lot of problems in InDesign, there's a free script that can help.
It's called ComboMambo and it allows you to populate a list or a combo box from the content in a plain text file. And you can download ComboMambo and find instructions for installing scripts from this post at InDesignSecrets. So if you're facing a situation with a very long list or combo box I encourage you to check out this script and use it. It can save you a lot of boring effort and prevent mistakes. I'll switch back to InDesign. I'll go to the Window menu, and choose Utilities, Scripts, and in the User folder you can see I have ComboMambo already installed.
So I'll just show you how it works. I'll select the frame for the states, and in the Buttons and Forms panel I'll choose List Box, then in Scripts I'll double-click ComboMambo to run it. Now it wants me to find a plain text file and in the exercise files I have that text file. It's right here, it's called 50 States.txt. I'll select it, click Open, and boom, just like that all the state abbreviations are now in my List Box and I can see them down here in the panel.
And I even added that word Choose above all the abbreviations. So this is a great illustration of the power of scripts for working with interactive documents. So far we have some text fields and some list boxes set up, now let's try our hand at some radio buttons and a checkbox. Now I want radio buttons here for readers to select either a one year or a two year subscription. Right here and here. And rather than creating them from scratch I'm gonna borrow some pre-made ones from InDesign's library of Sample Buttons and Forms.
So I'll open it from the Buttons and Forms panel menu, and I'll choose the radio buttons labeled number 10, and drag them onto the page. I'll zoom in a bit. Now I don't need three, so I'll select the third one and delete it, and I'll move them into position. So this will be the button for the one year subscription, and here's the two year subscription. I'll Shift + click to select them both, I'll change the Name to Subscription, I'll make them Required.
And now for our checkbox I'll use the Sample Buttons and Forms library again, and this time I'll choose the number one checkbox. So let's reopen that panel, here's the number one checkbox, just drag it into the page. I'll drag it down where I want it, just right to the left of Sign me up. Let's give it a Name, call it Recipe of the Week, and this one we won't make Required.
In the Buttons and Forms panel I can also see the two states of this checkbox giving me an On state and an Off state. And notice when I click the Off state that checkmark disappears. I'll put it back on by selecting the On state. Also remember that form objects act just like buttons, so if I wanted to change the color of the checkmark I can go to Normal On state, double-click to select the checkmark, and then use my Swatches. I'll change it from Black to Red.
Now the last thing you'll typically need to do when you're creating a form is check, and if necessary, fix the Tab Order. The Tab Order is what lets readers use the Tab key on their keyboards to move through the fields in your form as they're filling it out. So I'll go to the Object menu, and choose Interactive, Set Tab Order. Here I see my form fields, and now you see why it's really important to always name those fields, otherwise I'd have no idea what was what in this list.
And in fact, here's one that I forgot to name, List Box 5. So let's Cancel out of here, go back to our Buttons and Forms panel, and fix that. It was the state abbreviations, so I'll click once to select it, call it State, and now go back to Object, Interactive, Set Tab Order. And we can check out the Tab Order. So we have First Name, Last Name, Address, City, ZipCode, Phone, E-Mail, so this all looks pretty good, except State needs to move up, so I'll click and I can either click Move Up, or I can just drag it, I'll put it after City.
Check out the rest and that looks good, so I'll click OK. Now let's export to interactive PDF and test the form fields. Press Command or Control + E to export, export to the Desktop, we can just call it Form, make sure you're exporting to PDF Interactive, and click Save. Click Export. And here's our form field, so let's try it out. We can select a one year or a two year subscription, we can click in the First Name field, type in it, click Tab, jump to the next field and fill that out.
We can choose State from our list of states. We can select to be signed up for the Recipe of the Week, or deselect it. And again, you can see Credit Card information in this list. So in this movie we saw how to convert regular frames into form fields using the Buttons and Forms panel. We saw how to set options, like the names of fields, and why it's important for setting the Tab Order, and we even saw a really cool and free script to save a lot of boring effort when you're creating long lists or combo boxes.
- Overview of interactive document types, including PDF and EPUB
- Creating interactive objects
- Setting up hyperlinks, cross-references, and a table of contents
- Working with media
- Publishing documents with Publish Online
- Creating EPUBs
- Following workflows for interactivity: interactive PDF, reflowable EPUB, and fixed-layout EPUB