imageWhen we’re creating content for our customers (in products or programs) we might consider creating those PDF’s where the end user can type into the document and save it for later. This is called a PDF fillable form. Many people prefer to work with no paper & save all of their work to their computer. I still like to write notes & often print worksheets in the programs I attend. When this question comes up, I always ask, “What does your ideal client need from the forms you’re creating?”

If you’re creating a To-Do List, homework or funsheets you might want to consider some other alternatives before purchasing Adobe Acrobat Pro. The program itself is amazing, but if you’re just creating one or two PDF fillable forms, it’s probably not the right way to invest your money.

Update May 2013: Completely Free PDFEscape is the simplest solution.

You might want to consider some of these alternatives:

  1. Creating a form in Google Docs (it can be shared, or downloaded or used to create surveys)
  2. Saving as a normal PDF and giving the link to to the people who don’t like to print.
  3. (free for the first 10 questions)
  4. You can upload your cute PDF files and add in boxes for free at
  5. Adobe Forms Central is $15 per month – you can do a few for free.
  6. Subscribe to Mach forms (apparently, very easy to use)
  7. Purchase one of the following: Acrobat Pro, CutePDF Pro, PDFpen Pro, Nitro

Creating PDF Fillable with Open Office and Adobe Acrobat Reader

  1. Insert Form controls and fields  by go to View -> Toolbars -> Form Controls.
  2. Use the layouts element you’d like, right click and modify to the properties
  3. Repeat until you’ve created all of the form elements you need
  4. Include instructions for your users to “Save as PDF” instead of just “Save” to store their data
  5. Export as PDF and choose to Save it as a fillable PDF

And remember, the most important thing is making it simple for your ideal client to move forward in their business/life. Sometimes a really pretty form with lots of bells and whistles holds us back from getting it into their hands when they need it. Or it can complicate things, when a simple email would do the trick. Do what’s best for you & your client relationship. And have fun!

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p.s. if you’re looking for information on creating a PDF report (or an ebook style report) check out my reference guide

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