How can I use a PDF

Create fillable PDF forms - with Acrobat and freeware

Although it is possible to create a PDF to fill out completely free of charge, some users still swear by the professional, albeit cost-intensive standard solution: Adobe Acrobat.

On the one hand, this may be due to the fact that not every customer or colleague has an MS Office license or wants to use OpenOffice or LibreOffice. In addition, Adobe offers some special features with its in-house program that the competition cannot keep up with. The most salient: the automatic and surprisingly reliable Recognize form fieldsin digital files and even scanned paper documents. With the Adobe software you can even convert your MS-Word form into a fillable PDF.

It works like this:

  1. Click in the toolbar "Forms" à "Start form wizard" (Procedure and menu names can vary greatly from version to version; our instructions refer to Adobe Acrobat 9).
  2. In the window that opens, select the Source of your form out. Acrobat can open existing electronic forms (PDF, Word, or Excel files and many other formats) as well as convert scanned paper documents into a form (alternatively, you can also create a completely new form using templates).
  3. The form wizard now automatically recognizes all static form fields and names them based on the surrounding text. This process happens in an instant and has a high success rate. It can also happen that Acrobat forgets a field or misinterprets a visual separating line as a signature field. In this case, you can quickly eliminate the error by inserting, moving or deleting form elements yourself.

Apart from this handy tool, the selection and functionality of the tools in Adobe Acrobat is very similar to those in MS Word, OpenOffice and LibreOffice: Text fields, check boxes, option boxes, list boxes, combo boxes and buttons can be easily arranged using the crosshair display and configured with a double click.

In addition, the program offers interesting Additional functions, some of which are presented in more detail below:

  • Interactive forms can be filled out faster by using the Tab key to jump from input field to input field instead of clicking on each element individually with the mouse. In Adobe Acrobat, the Set tab orderto make this process as efficient as possible.
  • In combination with Adobe Sign it is possible to add a field for a digital signature to add.
  • Another additional tool in Acrobat is this Barcode field. This automatically converts all form entries into a unique barcode, which can be read and interpreted with the appropriate hardware. This makes it easier to evaluate and archive forms if they are sent back to you in paper form by post or fax.
  • Finished PDF forms can also be used with Adobe Acrobat Distribute to your customers and colleaguesby email or an internal server. The program also enables the status of the feedback to be tracked and automatic reminders to be sent in the event of missed appointments.

Adobe offers extensive tutorials for all additional functions on its website. There is also a free trial version of Adobe Acrobat that Valid for 14 days is and in addition to the creation, the editing of PDFs as well as the scaling down of documents of this file type is allowed.

Apart from that, there are numerous alternatives to Adobe Acrobat with a similar range of functions. The creation of fillable PDF forms is mostly, however only in the pro versions these programs (e.g. Qoppa PDF Studio, PDF-XChange Editor) or as part of a fee-based trialware (e.g. Foxit Phantom PDF, Nitro Pro).