Introduction 

This guide outlines the required steps to creating an Interactive PDF with text entry fields using Adobe Acrobat Pro.

Tick Mark iconTip: Numerous file types can be converted into interactive documents including standard PDFs, Microsoft Word files and even scanned paper documents. 


Contents


Video

This video outlines the steps for creating an interactive PDF that is accessibly and advises on how to purposefully add this resource to Learning Space.


What you’ll need

You will need to have Adobe Acrobat Pro installed on your computer to create an interactive PDF. Ensure to run any updates on the application if available. If you do not have Adobe Acrobat Pro please contact IT Service Desk via service.desk@fxplus.ac.uk for assistance. It’s worth noting that Adobe Acrobat Reader, the free program distributed by Adobe that allows you to view PDFs does not have the required, advanced features of Acrobat Pro as outlined in this guide.


Create an interactive PDF 

Step 1: Launch the Adobe Acrobat Pro application. Pictorial representation of the Adobe Acrobat Pro logo

Step 2: To locate the file you want to turn into an interactive document, click ‘File’ in the top menu bar and then select ‘Open’. 

Step 3: Under the ‘View’ panel in the menu bar, navigate to Tools > Prepare form > Open’. The following message will appear in the window “Select a file or scan a document to begin”. 

A pictorial representation of the Adobe Acrobat Pro View dropdown menu showing Tool > Prepare form > Open

Step 4: By default your file will already be selected which is indicated by the presence of a blue border around the file. Click the blue ‘Start’ button.

Pictorial representation of the 'Prepare Form' action screen

Acrobat will then analyse your document and may create some form fields automatically, which can be edited or deleted. Text form fields are square or rectangular in shape with a dark blue border. To edit a form field, double click it and in the dialogue box you can adjust its settings.

A pictorial representation of a selected text field form

Step 5: To add a new ‘text field’ click ‘Add a text field’ button (indicated by the ‘letter T in a text box’ icon). To position, move your mouse to the desired area of the document using the alignment guides, then click once to add the new 'text field' to the page. Alternatively, you can click and drag to resize the 'text field' before placing it in the desired position. When created, give the 'text field' a relevant name e.g. Answer 1.

A pictorial representation of the "Add a text field' button

Tick Mark iconTip: Before you start, consider the sequence of the 'text fields' that you want to include in your document e.g. Answer 1, Answer 2 etc. and create them in a logical sequence instead of at random e.g. Answer 10, Answer 1 etc.

Step 6: To edit the properties of a 'text field', double click on it and the 'Text Field Properties' dialogue box will appear. Apply the desired settings and click the ‘Close’ button. There are many properties that can be applied. Please refer to the end of this guide for an overview of the the most commonly used ones for facilitating simple interactivity.  

A pictorial representation of the Text Field Properties dialog box

Step 7: Text entry fields can also be duplicated. To do this, click on the desired text entry field. In the ‘Edit’ menu at the top of the screen, select ‘Copy’ and then ‘Paste’. The 'text field' will then appear with identical settings, including the same name, which should be amended.
   

Step 8: To save the document click ‘File’ in the top menu bar and then select ‘Save’. 

An example of a form with text entry fields in Adobe Acrobat Pro


How to test your PDF is working   

To test the interactivity of your text entry fields, click the blue ‘Preview’ button in the upper right-hand corner of the screen. Once in ‘Preview’ mode, you can test the document by filling out each of the fields. To return to 'Edit' mode, simply click the 'Edit' button in the upper right-hand corner of the screen. This button toggles back and forth between the two views. Your PDF file can now be viewed and interacted with on any computer or device that has the Adobe Reader program installed.  
A pictorial representation of the Prepare Form Tool Bar


Accessibility 

All digital content, including learning and teaching material, created by staff should meet the WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines) 2.1 AA standard to ensure that the greatest number of users can view the content. 

The 'Make Accessible' action in Acrobat Pro walks you through the steps required to make a PDF accessible. It prompts to address accessibility issues, such as a missing document description or title. It looks for common elements that need further action, such as scanned text, form fields, tables, and images. 

Step 1: To launch, navigate to Tools > Action Wizard. The 'Action Wizard' toolset is displayed in the secondary toolbar on the right side of the screen. 

Step 2: From the 'Action List', click 'Make Accessible'. The right panel changes to display each task included in the 'Make Accessible' action, as well as the instructions to execute the action. 

Step 3: Click ‘Start’ and follow the prompts to complete the 'Make Accessible' action for steps:  

1. Prepare 

2. Set Language & Tags  

3. Run Accessibility Check  

After clicking on ‘Run Accessibility Full Check’, click the blue ‘Start Checking’ button.  

Pictorial representation of the Accessibility Checker Options dialogue box in Adobe Acrobat Pro


The report results are displayed in the 'Accessibility Checker' panel on the left of the screen, which also has helpful links and hints for repairing any issues. These can be viewed by clicking on the desired result and selecting control + click (Mac OS) or right click (Windows).


The report displays one of the following statuses for each rule check:

PassedThe item is accessible.
Skipped by the userRule was not checked because it wasn't selected in the Accessibility Checker Options
dialog box.
Needs manual check

The Full Check feature couldn't check the item automatically. Verify the item manually. 

FailedThe item didn't pass the accessibility check

Resolving any issues from the report will ensure a high accessibility rating on Ally. Ally is the accessibility rating tool available on every module, course and resource page on Learning Space which scans each document uploaded to Learning Space and indicates how accessible it is. Whenever you upload a document you will see a red, amber or green speed-o-meter which rates the accessibility of your document. 

Exclamation mark iconImportant: From September 2020, it is a legal requirement that all documents added to the Learning Space must meet the WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines) 2.1 AA accessibility standards. More information about accessibility is available on the Falmouth Digital Accessibility Sharepoint site


Text Field Properties explained 

Below is a brief explanation of the commonly used 'Text Field Properties' for creating forms and facilitating with simple interactivity in Adobe Acrobat Pro.


General tab  

These properties determine the basics of the 'form fields'. 

NameSpecifies the unique name of the selected form field.
TooltipDisplays text that the hesitant user may find helpful in filling in the form field. Tooltips appear when the pointer hovers briefly over the form field.
Form FieldSpecifies whether the form field can be seen, either on screen or in print.
Read OnlyPrevents the user from changing the form field content.
RequiredForces the user to fill in the selected form field.


Appearance tab 

These properties determine how the 'form field' looks on the page. 

Border ColourOpens a colour picker in which you can select a colour swatch for the frame surrounding the field. Ensure that ‘transparent’ box is unchecked. To leave the field without a frame, select No Colour.  
Fill ColourOpens a colour picker in which you can select a colour swatch for the background behind the field. Ensure that ‘transparent’ box is unchecked. To leave the field uncoloured, select No Colour.
Font SizeSets the size of user-entered text. If you select Auto for a text field, as the user types, the font size changes to fit the text in the box.
Text ColourOpens a colour picker in which you can select a colour swatch for the text or selection marker.
FontLists the fonts available on your computer.


Position tab 

These properties determine positioning of the 'form fields'.  

The Position tab lets you position or size the currently selected field or fields with more precision than dragging and resizing by hand. You can move fields to the location you specify on the page. Use the Height and Width options to change only the size of fields. To lock the position of a field click on the ‘lock’ check box.   


Options tab  

These properties determine what user input is accepted, which can be alphabetic characters, numbers, or both.

AlignmentAligns the text left, right, or centre within the field.
Default ValueSpecifies the text that appears until the user overwrites it by typing in the field.
Multi-lineAllows more than a single-line entry in the text field.
Scroll Long Text Compensates for text that extends beyond the boundaries of the text field.
Allow Rich Text FormattingAllows users to apply styling information to the text, such as bold or italic.
Limit Of CharactersAllows entries of up to the number of characters you specify.
Check SpellingChecks the spelling of user-entered text.

The other remaining tabs Actions, Format, Validate and Calculate assist in the creation of more complex interactive pdfs which is beyond the scope of this guide.  


Sharing the Interactive PDF

The PDF can be shared with students as you would any other document through Learning Space, Microsoft Teams or email. 

When uploading to Learning Space don't forget, to provide context and relevance for the learner by providing instructions in the description field when uploading the interactive PDF. 

A pictorial representation of a PDF file uploaded to Learning Space showing instructions on how to use complete the PDF.

To make the descriptive text visible, ensure that the 'Display description on page' tick box is checked in the settings section when adding this resource.
A pictorial representation  of a 'add resource' dialogue box showing instructions on how to interact with the file to be uploaded.

Alternatively, use the label resource to assign context and relevance, positioned above the uploaded PDF file.

Note iconNote: It's worth noting that although the PDF will be compatible with a tablet or smart phone, a laptop or desktop computer will give the best user experience.


Question mark iconFurther Support 

For further support on Learning Space, or to report any issues with this guide, please get in touch with the Digital Learning Team via dlsupport@falmouth.ac.uk. Alternatively, please refer to the numerous help guides found on our Knowledge Base


View the Accessibility Statement for all of our support guides.