Forms are a feature provided with Acrobat that allow you to make digital documents that can be filled out and then submitted to you as read only documents. This will ensure that their form is a unique document that cannot be altered by others.

How to create a form

To create a form all you need to do is include a field. To enter a field go to Tools, Advanced Editing, and select the field you wish to use. There a several that Acrobat provides. Button allows you to make an interactive portion of your document that, when pushed, performs some action. For instance you could make a button that opened up another file or document, in most cases buttons are used to submit forms to a specified web-site. If you want your form to be submitted to a web-site it would be a good idea to read the PHP curriculum or visit the PHP workshop offered by Catalyst. The Check Box field element allows the creation of yes/no categories in your forms, like all field elements it can also have an action associated with it. There a a few options for customizing the Check Box that you can reach by double clicking on an existing Check Box while the Check Box tool is selected. An example of a checkbox field is shown below:

check box

There is also a Combo Box field. This field creates a standard drop down menu. To enter items into this field go to its properties window by double clicking the box, with Combo Box Tool selected. From the properties window go to the options tab, here you can enter new items and set their export value. The export value is used if you are making a form that will be submitted to a server. A few other options are "sort items" which organizes the items alphabetically, "Allow user to enter custom text", "Check Spelling", and "Commit selected value immediately" which makes it so that once the person filling out the form selects their choice they cannot go back and change it. A combo box field is shown below:

combo box

A close counterpart to the Combo Box field is the List Box field. The list box is similar to the Combo Box except that instead of having a drop down menu, all items are visible constantly. These fields are typically used when there are a small number of options and multiple can be selected. You create just as you create all other fields. it has a similar options tab to the Combo Box except that it has an option to allow multiple selections and it will not allow custom entries.

list box

Note: All fields can be edited by selecting the tool to create them and double clicking on an existing field of that type

Next is the Radio button field. The radio button is similar to the checkbox except that you can set up multiple radio buttons together to provide options to the user. If you want to create a set of radio buttons where only one can be selected at a time you need to edit each button. To set up a mutually exclusive set of buttons give every button the same name in the general tab, but give each one a different export value. An example of this would be to create a set of radio buttons for the user's favorite animal. You might create two radio buttons, one if they like dogs and the other if they like cats. You would give both the name of animal or favorite, and give each a unique export value, dog would be dog and cat would be cat. Example below:

radio button

You also have a text field. The text field is just an interactive text box where the user can enter text that will be submitted with the form. With the text field created it has a few different customization options. The first is if it will be a required field, this makes it so the user cannot submit the form without entering this field. As with most fields, its general appearance can be altered. The options tab allows you to choose how the text will be aligned in the box as well as the default value that will be in the box before it is edited. You can also choose to make the box muli-line and scrollable. You can aslo choose to limit the characters and turn on spell checking. Example Below:

text field

The last form field is the Signature field. I will go into more detail on this in the Signing and Security section. The sort on this is that it allows you to confirm that the document has been authentically completed by its intended recipient. It is a good idea to make this field required if you want a secure document. Example below:


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