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How to make a .pdf form fillable

I received this as an email question, but it is a great question for everyone.

I am trying to find a way to take forms in pdf format off the net and make them fillable.  If I downloaded and learned to use openoffice, would that work? 

My response:
There are different software programs that can do this.  For example, Adobe Acrobat (not reader) has a function that allows for .pdf files to turn into forms.  But you have to buy the program.
Here is a really cheap/free way that mostly works.  I did this with the AOC forms I use a lot, like summons and Civil Action Cover sheets.  For instructions, click below:
Open the .pdf file.  Use the little camera Icon to copy the entire page (one page at a time).  PASTE that page into a Word document or into a Open Offfice Document, and it will come in as a "photo" or "picture".
Right click on the picture and open the picture editor.  Use the function that shows a picture of a dog over text.  Select the function that says "through" meaning the text shows "though" the picture. 
Now you have basically made the copied .pdf picture into a background picture, and you can type over the picture, like in the old days with typewriters.  You may want to adjust the margins of the word document to their very minimum margins, and make sure you expand the "picture" to the widest margins for better resolution.  I copy and past page by page because it makes Word behave better.  If you have problems, right click on the "photo" and make sure you send it to the "back" .  It also helps to type a few word on the page before you "paste" the "photo"/pdf.
It takes a little practice, but once you get the spaces lines up, it works.
I've attached a Word version of one of my cover sheets so you can see how it works.  If you want to get tricky, you can use Word's "form" tool to insert fillable spaces that really turn the Word document into a true "form".  This word document has fillable spaces and non-fillable.  To "lock" the form so only the fillable spaces can be changed, click on the "lock" picture on the forms tool bar.  To get that toolbar to display, select it under the "tools" pulldown under Forms toolbar.
I think Word is better for this than OpenOffice, but once you make it in Word, Open office can transform it into a .pdf and then you can edit directly in Open office.  By the way, almost all the menus in OpenOffice are the same as in Word.  There is very little learning curve.  In fact, the few differences are ones that IMHO are more intuitive, like haveing the page format function under "format" pull down, not under "file" pulldown (never understood that).
Seems there must be a better way, which might include scanning the document into a OCR (optical character recognition) format.
And my solution is if you don't want to spend the money on software.
Chris Nichols
www.NicholsTrialLaw.com 1.800.906.5984

Comments

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Gail

There are few web based editors you can use to make pdf fillable. http://pdffiller.com, http://pdfhammer.com

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