A person sitting at a table and using a laptop computer to make a fillable PDF form

Adobe Acrobat

How to make a fillable PDF form.

Discover how you can create fillable PDF documents from text files, images, or even paper forms.

Make your forms more functional.

Filling in personal information on a form is nobody’s idea of a good time, but the data those forms provide about customers is crucial to keep a small business afloat. Take the paper out of your paperwork and create PDF files with editable form fields, drop-down menus, checkboxes, and a host of other powerful features.

Why make the switch to fillable PDF forms?

When your team members or your customers are spread out in different locations, fillable PDF files can boost the efficiency of your workflow. Once you create fillable forms to replace paper contracts and documents, you can get them filled out and signed immediately from anywhere.


Plus, saving filled forms digitally keeps your data all in one place, securely stored but available for anyone who needs it — all easily shareable via email. You can open PDFs on both Mac and PC, and they’re completely customizable, so you can use the PDF editor tools to drag and drop text fields, change fonts or formatting, or switch templates on the fly.

Graphic of creating a fillable PDF form on a laptop computer.

In Adobe Acrobat you can make a PDF fillable form from scratch, convert PDF files from a Microsoft Word document, or even upload a smartphone image or a scanned paper document. Using optical character recognition (OCR), Acrobat can quickly extract the text and convert it into an editable, searchable PDF — making it easier for you to turn paper documents into fillable PDF forms and continue to edit PDF fields for further customizations.

How to prepare PDF forms with Acrobat.

It’s easy to build your own form in Adobe Acrobat.

1. Click Tools, then select Prepare Form. Choose Create New, then click Start.

2. Save the PDF. Then click Add Text in the toolbar and add whatever information you want to your form.

3. To add a logo or an image to your form, choose the Add Image tool, select the image, click OK, and then place it at the desired location.

4. To change existing text boxes or images, click Edit in the toolbar.

5. Add fillable form fields by selecting your preferred field type from the toolbar or by right-clicking anywhere in the form and choosing the Form Field tool. 

6. Click the desired location with your cursor to place the selected field. And then set the field properties.

7. Once finished, save your form.

Save and distribute your fillable PDF form.

Once your form is finished, you can distribute it to recipients right from Acrobat using an internal server or email. To send your form via email, simply click Distribute in the lower-right corner, choose Email as your method, and enter the email addresses of your recipients separated by semicolons.


To use your existing form as a template for the next time you need to create a similar document, simply open your original file and choose Save As. Rename your new file and make any necessary changes you need to prepare it as your next fillable form. 

Graphic of making a fillable PDF document on a mobile phone

Create a fillable PDF from an existing PDF document.

If you already have existing documents you use that you’d like to make fillable, Acrobat can help with that too.

1. Click the Tools tab and select Prepare Form.

2. Select a file, like a Word document, Excel sheet, or scan of a paper document. Acrobat will automatically analyze your document and add form fields.

3. Add new form fields and field names, if needed.

4. Use the top toolbar and adjust the layout with the tools in the right pane.

5. Save your fillable PDF document.

How CSU Fullerton saved time and trees with fillable forms.

When administrators at Cal State University, Fullerton wanted to make life easier for students, one of their first steps was to use Adobe Acrobat and Adobe Sign to streamline their bureaucracy. Before, if a student wanted to drop a class or change their major, they’d have to walk all over campus collecting signatures on a paper form. But since CSU Fullerton used Acrobat to digitize their paperwork, students can now find and fill out the forms they need online. The PDF form creator allowed staff to produce documents with signature fields that are then automatically routed to administrative staff for review and approval, and then sent on to be stored in the university’s records.


As a result, paperwork processing that used to take over a week can now be completed in a matter of hours, and university officials estimate that the school has cut its paper usage by as much as 50 percent.


Whether you’re designing a simple volunteer sign-up sheet or an intricate patient intake form, Adobe Acrobat has all the tools and functionality you need to create the interactive forms that power your business.


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