scratch using a word processor or page layout program. Recipients could
view these electronic forms only if they had the proper software and the
forms were not interactive, meaning that you still had to print one and fill it
out with a pen or pencil. At that point, your form wasn’t electronic anymore.
What makes Acrobat 6 so fantastic is that, in addition to creating PDF forms
by scanning existing forms or developing them right in the program, it also
lets you produce truly interactive and portable forms that can be filled out on
a computer screen and submitted over a computer network. This amazing
feat is accomplished through the magic of form fields.
Although some of you might think of fields as those places that keep disap-
pearing to accommodate urban sprawl, for the purpose of PDF forms, fields
are containers for specific types of information and interactive elements. For
example, the Name box on a form, where you put — you guessed it — your
name, is a text field. An example of an interactive element field is a check box
or list box that makes it easier for a user to fill out a form by selecting rather
than entering data. (To find out all about the different types of form fields, see
the “Getting Acquainted with Form Field Tools” section, later in this chapter.)
Adding different types of fields to a PDF document enables you to distribute it
online, and users can fill it out in the comfort of their own computer desktop.
Adding Fields to Forms
Although creating a simple interactive form from scratch in Acrobat 6 is cer-
tainly possible (see the “Creating form field tables” section, later in this chap-
ter), most people find that what they really want is to add interactivity to a
form that is already set up. For example, say that in the past you’ve paid big
bucks to a graphic designer for a logo and spent even more to print reams of
forms with your new logo on them. However, now you want people to fill out
your forms online to save trees (and money). To do so, you just need to con-
vert your form to PDF and then add the necessary form fields. (See Chap-
ter 15 for details on creating PDF files from a variety of popular Windows
and Macintosh graphics and page layout programs.)
Acrobat 6 (Professional version only) provides seven different form
field tools (Button tool, Check Box tool, Combo Box tool, List Box tool,
Radio Button tool, Text Field tool, and Digital Signature Field tool) used
to create interactive form fields, and each is covered in later sections of
this chapter. The tools are grouped together on the Forms toolbar that
you open by choosing Advanced Editing➪Forms➪Show Forms Toolbar.
The Forms toolbar appears in its undocked (floating) state, which makes it
easy to access when you’re building an interactive form. For more about the
Forms toolbar, see the “Getting Acquainted with Form Field Tools” section,
later in this chapter.
Part IV: PDFs as Electronic Documents