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How to create a fillable PDF form with Acrobat X

Learn how to create fillable PDF forms from an existing PDF document using Acrobat X.

By Donna Baker – March 26, 2012


In this tutorial, learn how to create fillable PDF forms from an existing PDF document using Acrobat X.
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How to create a fillable PDF form with Acrobat X

Donna Baker – March 26, 2012

Let’s start from an open PDF file. Click Create, then click PDF Form or Online Form to open the Create or Edit Form dialog box. The option to use an existing file is selected by default. Click Next. The open document is selected by default. Click Next. The dialog box explains about Form Editing Mode. Click the Do not show check box if you don’t want to see the message every time you start a form! Click OK.

Now you see your document with the form fields Acrobat found. This layout is called Form Edit Mode. You work only in the Forms pane while you’re in Form Edit mode. The Task tools let you work with the fields and the form. The Fields tools show a list of the fields and their types. The Forms Tools toolbar has tools for each type of form field.

Use the Zoom In tool to see the fields clearly. Click the name of a field in the list to highlight it, and you see the selected field shows a highlight on the form page. The selected field shows a blue frame on the page. Click anywhere on the page to deselect the field—now the field shows a solid black frame and the field highlight disappears in the Fields tab, too.

Acrobat copies the text on the page to the left of the field and uses that text for the field’s name. Let’s check out some more fields. Click a field on the page to highlight it, and Acrobat also highlights the field’s name in the list.
The automatic field names aren’t always correct. This field is named fill_4 although it should be named Huge using the text to the left of the field. The button to the left of the text causes the problem.
This form is very complicated with lots of graphics and lines. This form is very simple. Each field is identified and uses the text to the left of the field for the name. All of the fields are named and located correctly and are easy to find in the Fields list.

Learn more about creating PDF files.

Products covered:

Acrobat X

Related topics:

PDF Forms

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Comments for this tutorial are now closed.

Wahab Awan

1, 2016-02-24 24, 2016


Lori Kassuba

3, 2016-01-29 29, 2016

Hi Sherri,

Let me know if this discussion help address your question:



9, 2016-01-27 27, 2016

Can you make a PDF form that is fillable and have useable excel worksheet in it that will do calculations with every new form filled.


8, 2013-09-09 09, 2013

Thank you Donna. This has now become a valuable tutorial.

donna baker

7, 2013-09-08 08, 2013

Hi Susan -

There are links in a variety of locations on The Quick Tips themselves show just one topic, which can then be followed up using any of a number of processes. To find what you’re looking for next, check here:


12, 2013-09-04 04, 2013

What is the point of this tutorial? We have a form, now what? Maybe info about how to submit the data, OR how about a link or information for the tutorial that continues from this? That would be GREAT!

donna baker

5, 2013-06-04 04, 2013

Hi Jay -

There isn’t any need to use Forms Central, although I understand your frustration. There is obviously something wrong with the programming in the form.

- Do you have more than one Submit action? That could prevent the process from completion.
- Do you have any hidden information in the form?
- Do you have any invisible form fields? Check the list in the Forms view to be sure you can account for all the fields listed.

If none of these things work, I suggest to post to the Forms forum, and you’re sure to get some in-depth help there.



3, 2013-05-22 22, 2013

Donna, thank you for your reply. As I mentioned, I am able to send the form to myself so the mailto: is correct. We also have received some forms via email. The customers sending are company owners and regularly send email pdfs; they are frustrated and this makes us look bad.  Also, the guy who updated Reader last week said afterwards he couldn’t even open the form. Any ideas on that?  I feel like Adobe is just trying to get us all to use Forms Central at a monthly fee.

donna baker

5, 2013-05-21 21, 2013

Hi Jay -

There are two issues that could be at play here. Your users may have security set in such a way that it prevents programs from sending email. Also, you should check your distributed copy of the document to make sure the email address is correct. Remember you need the mailto: protocol included with your email address.



11, 2013-05-17 17, 2013

I created the form and have it automatically download from the web.  The problem is that not everyone is able to submit the form by email. some have said they sent it numerous times (I didn’t receive it), one said that after he updated Reader he could not even open the form, yet another said that he couldn’t send it from his Mac. Of course this is not a problem for me; I can send it to myself. I have Reader extensions enabled too.

donna baker

5, 2012-09-23 23, 2012

Hi David -

To add an email address you can add a button or a link and use the mailto:[email protected] as the content in the URL field. That’ll send the form to you when clicked.

You store your PDF document on your server, and then add a link to it in your web page.


David Cudlip

4, 2012-09-21 21, 2012

Hi Donna,
I’ve created a simple form in Acrobat 9 Pro Extended, but (1) cannot find the way to hyperlink it to an email address, or (2) to upload it to a website. Any advice is much apprectiated…

donna baker

2, 2012-08-21 21, 2012

Hi Roni -

You can add password security to the PDF file that allows for digital signatures, but prevents any changes. If you don’t want to password protect the file, you can check in the Signature pane to see any changes that have been made between signatures.



7, 2012-08-20 20, 2012

I’ve created a timecard that includes digital signatures.  Once I’ve entered my time, I’ll sign it and forward to my supervisor for signature.  Is there any way to protect the document from unwanted changes after I sign it?  If so how do I do it?


donna baker

4, 2012-08-15 15, 2012

Hi Megan -

The text that’s copied into the form as the label is completely editable. You don’t have to put any text in the fields at all. If you want to have multiples, you can have a whole list of blank fields for your customers to type the numbers themselves.



3, 2012-08-09 09, 2012

Hi I want to use this to create Order Forms or my Photography Business but I am having trouble understanding this… The text that it copies, will this be editable? What if I want to have the fileds blank and have them type it in without their being something their previously? I usually have multiple lines where people can write in multiple photo #s… Do you have any suggestions as to how I can make this work?

Thanks for all of your help!


donna baker

2, 2012-06-21 21, 2012

Hi Mark -

Yes, you can program a button to return a form to an email address. As for the trigger, MouseUp is the standard trigger used for button actions.


Mark Smith

10, 2012-06-20 20, 2012

Try to create a “submit a form” button sending the completed pdf to an email. And use the Mouse Up trigger instead of Mouse Enter.

donna baker

1, 2012-05-22 22, 2012

Hi Cyndi -

I’m glad you enjoyed the video. Sending a form to someone is a different task. Please check out this video:


donna baker

1, 2012-05-22 22, 2012

Hi Lee -

When you change the tab order by dragging and dropping the fields in the Fields list, you are also changing the tab number order. There isn’t a quicker way to do that in Acrobat X.


8, 2012-05-09 09, 2012


Is there a quicker way to change the tab order in a form besides drag & drop?
Why can’t the tab numbers be changed? That would be the quickest & simplest way.



2, 2012-04-02 02, 2012

The video is great except it doesn’t show how to send the form to someone.

Comments for this tutorial are now closed.