How to use duplicate fields in PDF forms using Acrobat X or XI

Learn how to create fillable PDF forms, including creating duplicate fields using Acrobat X or XI.

By February 6, 2012

 



In this tutorial, learn how to create create fillable PDF forms, including creating duplicate fields using Acrobat X or XI. Say you're creating a multi-page fillable PDF form that you'd like to personalize for each customer by adding their name to the footer on each page. Instead of having to customize the footer for each PDF form you prepare, just add duplicate fields. Type the name once, and it appears on every page. Duplicate fields are not the same as copied fields. In Acrobat X or XI, when you copy a field, you add additional instances of the field to the same page. Duplicate fields appear on multiple pages.

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How to use duplicate fields in PDF forms using Acrobat X or XI

Donna BakerFebruary 6, 2012

Say you're creating a multi-page fillable PDF form that you'd like to personalize for each customer by adding their name to the footer on each page. Instead of having to customize the footer for each PDF form you prepare, just add duplicate fields. Type the name once, and it appears on every page.

Duplicate fields are not the same as copied fields. In Acrobat, when you copy a field, you add additional instances of the field to the same page. Duplicate fields appear on multiple pages.

Here's how to do it:

  1. Add and configure the field you want to duplicate, such as a text field to show the customer's name. In the Fields panel, you'll see the name of the field shown under the Page 1 heading.
  2. Position the field where you want it to show on each page. Acrobat places duplicates at the same location as the original.
  3. Right-click the field and choose Duplicate from the shortcut menu. In the Duplicate Field dialog box, leave All selected if you want the field to show on each page, or click From and type the page range, such as pages 1 to 4. You don't have to worry about excluding the page where you added the original field.
  4. Click OK.
  5. Scroll through the file and you'll see the field shows in the same location on the chosen pages.

Check out the field names now. Acrobat adds a number to the end of the field names, and the number sign at the end of the original field's name. Click Preview to test the field. Type some text in one copy of the field, and you'll see it show in all fields.

Now each time you prepare a copy of the document for a new customer, you'll be able to customize each page just by changing text in one field.


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Acrobat XIAcrobat X

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17 comments

Lori Kassuba

1 week ago

Hi Beat,

To get the information to repeat across your form, you need to create form fields with exactly the same name. This way, the recipient of your form will only need to fill the information out once, and the rest of the fields with the same names are completed automatically.

Thanks,
Lori

Beat

2 weeks ago

I have a 8 page pdf form where I have several fields to fill in and the same information repeats throughout different pages in different areas of the pages (like company name, Rep. name, etc.). Does that work the same way?

Lori Kassuba

3, 2015-04-29 29, 2015

Hi Kila,

Yes, Acrobat is supported on Mac OS X 10.8. See this article for details:
http://blogs.adobe.com/documentcloud/acrobat-and-reader-support-ending-for-mac-os-x-10-6-and-10-7/

Reference this discussion for auto-populating data from other PDF forms:
https://answers.acrobatusers.com/Auto-populate-fields-from-a-different-PDF-q53405.aspx

Thanks,
Lori

Kila

1, 2015-04-28 28, 2015

I have a Mac with 10.8 on it so I would like to know if this program will work with that. Some have told me that I have to upgrade but I have heard horror stories about the upgrade so I am not willing to do that with my unfamiliarity with Mac products. I also need to know if this program is capable of doing the following. I have 4 forms for my company that will go into one customer packet. In some area of each form (page) it asks for the customers name, address, phone and email. What I want to know is can I type all of that once on the initial form and have it automatically fill into the fields on the corresponding pages so it doesn’t have to be typed in over and over again. IF this will not work with DC is there a program out there that anyone can recommend.

Lori Kassuba

11, 2015-04-02 02, 2015

Hi Mike,

This sounds like an issue with Mac Preview. There is a bug on the Mac that “corrupts” PDF forms if they’re filled out using Preview instead of Adobe Reader. So, make sure you have detailed instructions for folks to not fill out your form using Preview.

Thanks,
Lori

Mike

3, 2015-03-26 26, 2015

I have a question.  If you combine multiple documents and both docs have fields with the same name, why would the data not show up unless I click into the field.  Example:  After combining the separate pdfs address, city, state show the data on page 1 of pdf 1, but not page 1 of pdf 2 unless I click into the address field the data appears, but disappears if I click out of the field.

Lori Kassuba

11, 2015-03-26 26, 2015

Hi dawn Smith,

Make sure you use unique names for each individual form field - like name, address, etc. If you use the same exact field name then any data entered into that field will display in the other fields with the same name. This can be useful if you don’t want folks to enter the same information in multiple fields (like their name) but it don’t sound like what you’re looking for.

Thanks,
Lori

dawn Smith

11, 2015-03-23 23, 2015

I am creating a fillable pdf, but when I save it and then go to test out the fields. When I type and hit tab, to go to the next field the data duplicates itself in the same box behind the text just inputted and sometimes it centers itself and creates duplicate text to the left of the box. How can I fix this problem?

Lori Kassuba

2, 2014-08-04 04, 2014

Hi April,

Every field needs to have a unique name unless you want the same information within that field.

Thanks,
Lori

April

3, 2014-07-31 31, 2014

I too like Cheryl would like to have fields without any unique name at all.  Is this possible.  I really need this to be a choice that I can actually use.

Lori Kassuba

12, 2014-07-03 03, 2014

Hi Cheryl,

You need to give each form field a different unique name. When a form field has the same name, any information that is typed into it will repeat in all the other fields with the same name.

Thanks,
Lori

Cheryl

8, 2014-07-03 03, 2014

I type in a name in one field then tab, and it copies the name in the rest of the fields. How do I get it not to do that?

Zack Parrish

9, 2014-06-26 26, 2014

I would just like to follow up on my previous comment:

http://acrobatusers.com/tutorials/how-do-i-use-duplicate-fields#comment_2232

I found a “hacktastic” way of doing this, shameful as it is.  Since Acrobat randomly inserts copied fields at different points within the PDF page (it doesn’t actually center them consistently)  but never tries to place one off the page, you can define your outer boundaries with some junk fields.

I created 4 checkbox fields and made them as humanly small as I could.  I then went into their properties and set their border color and background color to none.  I also set the font color to white so it would match the document background.  Then, I used the keyboard to position these fields as far as possible into the 4 corners of the page.

Now, if you copy and paste all of the fields from this page to a new one of equal size and orientation, Acrobat has no choice but place them exactly where they were on the source document.

I haven’t tested this with a mix of PDF files generated from different people, machines, drivers, or programs.  I batch convert AutoCAD details into PDF files for use as submittal tear sheets, so the page size, DPI, and margin info is identical from one file to the next.  You may get different results if you attempting this on files with completely different origins.

Lori Kassuba

10, 2014-05-19 19, 2014

Hi Matt,

If you use the same form field name each time you create the form field, then the information will only need to be entered once. You can place the actual form field anywhere on the page but you’ll just need to do it manually.

Thanks,
Lori

Matt

5, 2014-05-13 13, 2014

Excellent tutorial. This is what I would like to implement, but I would like the duplicate field to be in a different position on subsequent pages.

Basically allowing the person keying data into the form to only have to enter the “Printed Names” once.

April Greer

6, 2014-03-26 26, 2014

Donna,

Thanks so much! This was exactly what I needed to know.

You rock!

April

donna baker

2, 2013-07-15 15, 2013

Hi Zack -

I agree it would be a good idea, but it doesn’t exist in this version of Acrobat. That would make a great feature request. By default, Acrobat has always pasted content to the center of the page.

donna.

Zack Parrish

2, 2013-07-02 02, 2013

What about duplicating text fields from one PDF file to another?  I have been copy and pasting the fields for quite some time, but I always have to manually position the fields in the document I pasted them into.  It would be really nice if the fields could remember a relative position from one document to another.

donna baker

11, 2013-02-19 19, 2013

Hi Kathy -

You could define the additional copies as artifact, which would then be skipped over by the Tab key, but I wouldn’t recommend it. It is a form field, and someone using a screenreader or other assistive device should have the program speak the field and its contents. I don’t think it’s too inconvenient for the average user to press Tab twice to jump over the field.

donna.

Kathy

12, 2013-02-15 15, 2013

How do I allow duplicate fields to be skipped in tab sequence? For instance, for the information I want to be duplicated across multiple pages, I am wanting to ignore them in the tab sequence since there is no need to enter data in the field.

donna baker

10, 2012-10-15 15, 2012

Hi Umair -

You follow the same process, regardless of the type of field you’re using. In the shortcut menu, use the Duplicate Across Pages command.

donna.

Umair

4, 2012-10-10 10, 2012

I am using text box tool for some data input, but there is no option of duplicate for that. How can I duplicate the text on all pages?

donna baker

11, 2012-10-01 01, 2012

Hi Seb -

I’m sure there are third party products that may rename fields for you automatically, but you can’t do it within Acrobat. You might want to check into some JavaScript that could change the names for you. Perhaps check out or post to the JavaScript forum at acrobatusers.com.

Seb

3, 2012-09-24 24, 2012

well i knew that but with about 600 pages and many form fields this really sux and is not very usefull -.-...

donna baker

1, 2012-09-23 23, 2012

No problem. Once the fields are duplicated you must change the name of every copy.

seb

5, 2012-09-14 14, 2012

I need to duplicate forms on every site of my pdf but they should be unique so i can write in the data for every single page.

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