How to create interactive PDF forms

Adobe LiveCycle

Before starting a design project it’s important to gather details about your client. One way to get the info is through web forms, but another option is to offer a downloadable form as a PDF file so clients can answer questions while offline, before emailing the details back to you. Completed PDF forms can also be printed so the client has a hard copy — a useful reference during a project.

A few people have asked how to create interactive PDFs, so here’s a quick insight.


Adobe LiveCycle Designer, and Adobe Acrobat Professional.

LiveCycle Designer is used for creating interactive forms, and Acrobat Professional for viewing the completed forms.

Here’s a description of LiveCycle Designer, excerpted from Adobe’s website:

“Adobe® LiveCycle Designer software enables the creation of forms that combine high-fidelity presentation with XML data handling. The easy-to-use graphical interface of Adobe LiveCycle Designer enables users to quickly design forms, maintain form templates, define a form’s business logic, make changes, and preview forms before they are deployed as Adobe PDF or HTML documents.”

If you’ve used page layout programs such as Adobe InDesign, QuarkXPress, or even Microsoft Word, you’ll find LiveCycle straightforward to use.

Adobe LiveCycle Designer form

After opening the software, simply choose ‘new form’ from the welcome screen options, and you’re ready to type your questions and insert any logos or imagery.

Adobe LiveCycle Designer

There are many different options for setting the style of your questions, such as drop-down lists, check boxes, or text fields where a client can type their own words. It’s quite intuitive, the ‘help’ options are great, and you won’t need me to explain much more.

At the bottom of your form, insert a ‘submit’ button, and assign your email address to its properties. I’ve saved my finished templates as PDF files, but as mentioned on Adobe’s website, you can also create HTML forms. This is something I want to learn more about to give clients variety when answering questions. It’d be useful to have a couple of extra pages on my site, showing online questionnaires without the need for downloading a PDF.

When clients have completed the questionnaire and press the ‘submit’ button, their answers will be sent (in XML format) directly to your inbox. Upon receiving the XML attachment by email, you then need to save the file to your hard drive.

Once on your hard drive, open the original questionnaire template (the blank PDF that you offer for download) in Adobe Acrobat Professional. In the ‘file’ menu choose ‘form data’ / ‘import data to form’ and there’s a prompt to locate the client file (the one saved from the email).

Using these forms can speed-up the design process, saving time for everyone involved.

All your clients need is a copy of Acrobat Reader so they can view and complete the forms. Reader is free to download.

LiveCycle Designer is currently PC only. For Macs you’ll need to install a product like Parallels to run Windows alongside the Mac OS.

These forms act as a great starting point, and help focus ideas around exactly what the client needs to achieve, but there’ll always be follow-up questions.

How do you gather project details?

Further resources (thanks Lee):
How to creative interactive PDF forms, on The Design Cubicle
Interactive Forms in Acrobat, on Layers Magazine

126 responses

  1. I did look through the questionnaire a week or so ago to get an idea of what type of info you ask for in regards to web design. The process seemed to me like an extension of your online “presence” – helpful and thorough. Thanks for the info on creating this type of questionnaire.

  2. I had a look at Adobe LiveCycle Designer and there doesn’t seem to be a version for mac. Is there one available or a similar program available?

  3. Funny, I was just looking into this recently – I’ve been tinkering around with LiveCycle over the past couple of weeks. Seems like a really easy way of doing things; typically I send a client off to an online form to fill in. Perhaps having a PDF alternative could be useful, too :)

  4. I was wondering how you had created your forms too. Like Oliver I have just been to take a look and it seems to be PC only – shame it looks nice and easy to use.

  5. No problem, Kris, Jess.

    Oliver, Tara, sorry for not mentioning that. I wasn’t aware the software was PC-only. I searched through similar Adobe products, looking for a Mac alternative, but no joy.

    Damien, I think both alternatives would be best, giving the client a choice. The html forms are definitely on my ‘to-do’ list.

  6. Thanks for this post, David. I was wondering how you did that with your PDF forms!

    Here are a couple of suggestions for your web site development form:

    For redesign clients: What do you like/dislike about your current site?

    For all:
    1) Are you going to be providing content for this site (text, images, etc.) Do you already have the content finished? Do you need help with it? If it’s not ready, when do you anticipate that you’ll have your content in hand?

    2) Will you be editing your own website once it is up and running?

  7. I was reading your entry, and took a look at the examples you gave (from your hire page)

    I was wondering, why not using a web form for such as small task?
    – Less dependency on your potential customer software (don’t need tp install anything)
    – Control over the email generated (throough the submit in a page, you choose how to generate the email)
    – More accessible (if they have accessed the page, they are able to access the form)

  8. Yup, I used Designer at my old job. It was really great! I know a lot of the people that used the interactive forms I made really appreciated them. The end user can also save them after they’ve been filled out if they have Acrobat (Standard or Pro, not Reader). I didn’t know that it was PC only either (that must mean you’re on a PC, David?)! That’s kinda weird.

    You can also use the very simple FormCalc “language” in Designer to do some pretty complex math. I had a few order forms and this feature was helpful because I could have the form calculate the totals for people after they plugged in the quantity and price. It has a library of functions, too, for rounding, figuring averages, etc.

  9. Seems more complex than I thought, with the FormCalc function. I’m sure that helped you and for clients when totals were calculated. I use Mac and PC, but more PC — it’s what I used before becoming self-employed, and I got used to it. I also enjoy playing poker online, and Macs can’t yet run the programs I use.

  10. David,

    Good post, I have used Live Cycle for a few things that my clients have requested in the past, and for the most part it works great. I don’t want to turn this in to a complaint section, but the thing that I don’t like is; from what I have seen your potential clients have to run Adobe Live cycle through some form of desktop email system. (i.e. Outlook, Thunderbird etc) In my opinion I find it MUCH nicer for the potential client to be able to send email seamlessly or just straight through the form.

    Yes I will be the first to admit that this might just be my own ignorance, Live Cycle might have something like this built in, but I have not seen it?

    Great idea on the questionnaire though!

  11. Yay! Another person in the PC camp! I use a PC, too, and I gave the same arguments to my professors and classmates (and now my fellow designer at work). At the beginning of my studies I had a new PC laptop I had bought before I knew I’d be in graphic design and I wasn’t about to go out and spend another $3,000 on a new Mac. One professor actually asked me how I expected to survive the courses without a Mac. I’d say I’m doing pretty well on my PC and it’s the only platform I’ve used at work, both at my previous job and now at my new one. It all comes down to what you’re more comfortable with, and for me, it’s a PC.

    FormCalc is very easy to use (it’s not really a language) and I actually had fun figuring out some of those old algebra formulas again :D

  12. Hello,

    I was also impressed by David’s pdf questionnaire, so I started tinkering with Acrobat 8 Professional to see what it would let me do. I think LiveCycle is partially integrated into it, since I was able to create a form even though I use a MAC. The form is fillable and can be submitted, emailed etc.

    But I cannot, for example, access the template forms, which I guess have something to do with the fact that LiveCycle works with PCs only.

  13. Matt, you’re right. The fact that a client has to go through an email service is a drawback, and one of the main reasons why I want some online forms in place.

    Lauren, sounds like one of your professors works for Apple? ;)

    Hi Veronika, that’s interesting. I think I came across it having searched Acrobat for ‘interactive form’ or similar, so maybe it’s integrated on my side, too. As for template forms, I haven’t yet given them a shot.

  14. Anyone running into problems with Preview (Mac) not being able to save PDF interactive form data? When you save the completed form, Preview doesn’t seem to retain the data.

  15. Well its true form users are mainly on the PCS, why because their more prevalent so I understand why the software works for PCS, but like the other guy said all you need is acrobat professional 8.

    David, Props for the form I think its ingenious, I just gotta figure out how to set up my own now :)

  16. Hi david i want to thank you for providing all the information I needed, but i am barely begining to design my portfolio. I am not sure of what software and materials i need to get started. Its been about 7 yrs since i studied mutimedia graphic design and i feel so far behind . what do you recommend to a beginner like me and what do you consider the most important thing in creating a design?

  17. Hi there,
    Could someone help me with one function in Adobe Designer? I am trying to create the interactive form where; there are two options, if the user select one of the two option a table for that particular option will come up for them to fill out. !!!

  18. Mireya,

    You’re very welcome. For software, I recommend Adobe’s Creative Suite, and the most important thing in creating a design? Good question, as there are so many aspects that are important. Lateral thinking is up there.


    I’m not familiar with that function, so can’t help unfortunately. Good luck with it.

  19. I am trying to create an interactive pdf but I have a problem. I created the form and sent it out, they filled them out and returned them as XML files. However I am unable to convert them back to PDF files to view. You say to transfere the PDF to your hard drive and open the blank PDF and in the “file” menu choose form data or import data to form- I don’t have that button.

  20. Hi Sheryl, that’s odd how you don’t have the import option. My only guess is that you’re opening your blank form in Acrobat Reader, as opposed to Acrobat Professional. Best of luck with it.

  21. Could you please explain how to create a form for more than one view?
    For example, there are two different users going to use the same form. (1. Internal user and 2. external user)
    The internal user wants all the attributes/elements on the form (some buttons, text fields, etc). But the external user wants some of the attributes/elements on the same form (not all). How do I handle this? By introducing any flag and handling that in JavaScript? Or is there any other technique for this?

  22. Kumar,

    What you’re asking isn’t something I’ve needed to do. I suggest using the ‘help’ feature in Adobe LiveCycle Designer, and hope you find what you’re looking for.

  23. I have found that the only downfall to creating these forms using this method is that the users can not fill out the form just as it is and then email it to someone. the only options on sending electornically is via data file via email. Which in turn you have to create a data base in order to sort the data. It shows up in 1, 2, 3 …… depeinding on what you fill in on the form. The only way a user can save the file and you see the data exactly the way you created it is if they have adobe professional.

  24. Mike,

    I completely agree with the downside you mention. Being unable to email the form results directly from the submit button is one of the main reasons why I set up an online form. You can see the online option on my hire page. Bye for now.

  25. I can’t seem to understand how to implement text fields, drop down menus, etc in Adobe InDesign. Is this possible? I am, of course, working from a Mac.

  26. David,

    Hopefully this will be a quick tip for Juliet and every one else on the Mac side,

    The way that I create my forms is: First make a mock up of a form in InDesign (or what ever other program you might use) then export the form to a PDF and open with Acrobat Pro. Once in Acrobat Pro there is a selection at the menu bar titled “Forms” after selecting the “Forms” menu click on “Create New Form” and it will lead you through a few option boxes. One of the main things to watch out for is it will give you two options one “Run Auto Field Detection” and two “Place Fields by Hand”, if you have any thing that resembles a “Data field” (ex. blank lines etc) the auto field detection is handy, if not select “Place fields by hand” and then it will let you add in interactive fields (including drop down boxes and more).

    Hope this helps.

  27. Hi David,

    Just a quick question: I can’t seem to find a clear reference on how to embed / publish forms on a webpage once created. Could you point me in the right direction?

    Also: Great tip, Matt

  28. Oh, and one more thing, I think it’s just occurred to me that the current form on your hire page is in fact HTML and wasn’t created using LC. Would I be right in that assumption? If so, I think I’ve slightly missed the point on LC. The fact is that the user will always have to download the interactive pdf from a link on a site, as opposed to seeing it and filling it out embedded in a webpage…

    Has my penny dropped?

  29. Hi Steve, you’re right. The form on my hire page is html — not created using LiveCycle. Sorry for the ambiguity. That’s one issue with documenting site features as I go — when I change something I need to remember those previous posts.

  30. Hi David,

    Great advice in the article, Thanks,

    One question – Is it possible to create an interactive form in LiveCycle where the user would be able to ‘save’ the entries they made using Adobe reader?

    So far I have only seen articles giving advice on how to either enter, then print / email forms using reader, or to save a form data using Acrobat Professional.

    Have you come across this?

  31. Hi Alex, you need to enable usage rights in Acrobat for the primary document once you’ve created it.

    Advanced>Enable Usage Rights in Acrobat Reader

    (on a side note and apologies to David for the slight hijack, but the Adobe LC manual / help files are atrociously sparse on information)

  32. Alex,

    Glad you appreciated the article, and I trust your question has been answered?


    Thanks for jumping in and offering your help. Please, no need to apologise. I’m not too familiar at all with the LiveCycle help files, but definitely take your word for it.

  33. Hope someone’s got an idea.

    I’ve put together an interactive form using LiveCycle designer 7.0and it works as designed. However, when the email with the xml data is sent, the fields are in what seem to be a haphazard order. Anyone know how to sort them out so that they match the order of the form? Is there a good forum that you’d recommend for these types of questions?


    Jerry Kornbluth

  34. @ Gerald – You might want to look at the Hierarchy of your form fields, I think that might be the reason that your xml data is all haphazard… To get to the Hierarchy in Windows open your form and select the Window menu > Hierarchy (or Shift+F11) I’m not sure where the hierarchy is listed on a Mac…

    Hope this helps

  35. I am using Adobe Professional 7. I created a fillable form BUT when my users fill it out (using adobe reader 8) and email it back to me they all all blank….Any help would be appreciated….

  36. I know I have to go to the Advance > Enable usage rights in Acrobat Reader but it’s not there…..I don’t see that in my Advance…

  37. Hi David,

    I have started to create a interactive pdf, and saved it to my desktop.

    When I open it now, it does not let me alter it, as if it is a read only. It lets me add ion text boxes but does not let me adjust the copy (text)

    How do I correct this, so I can continue creating it?

  38. Blair,

    When you open the document after it was closed, the default will be in read only format. You have to open it from your AdobeIndesign software to edit it.
    For the second question, once you copy and paste text, the software will automatically create a text box for the copied text. You can find the property of that copied text box in the Format function.
    Hope my comments help. Please let me know if you need me to clarify something. Happy Holidays!

  39. Marisa, Blair,

    Thanks for reading my article, and for acting upon it. I’ve stopped using interactive PDFs for client questionnaires, and am not very familiar with the advanced workings of LiveCycle Designer, so apologies that I can’t take time to check the software for you.


    That’s very kind of you to respond to Blair’s question. Happy holidays to you too.

  40. Nice post people.

    Quick question, I’ve been using Livecycle for all of our business forms and now the field personnel have iphones and cannot use any of the interactive features on their iphones. They can open the pdf, but not type into it… Is this another mac. vs. pc thing. Or is there some sort of patch, converter, enabler to allow interactive pdfs to be interacted with on an iphone?


  41. I have created adobe interactive forms Using adobe Pro 8. I saved them (what I thought to be) backwards compatible to version 5. However, in certain versions of adobe reader, (including version 9) the check boxes don’t show up well and don’t print. Is there a solution to this? They should show up in version 9.

  42. Is there a way were I can dissable a check off button. Meaning if I create several buttons and wanted to make sure people only select on of those so upon selection i want the other buttons to get dissable is that possible?

  43. I love the idea of an interactive PDF so I created one myself. However, what if the client uses a web-based email account? Without the ability to save the PDF, how can the client get it back to me, besides printing and faxing.

    I ask this b/c a client of mine who uses Vista says he can not save the PDF after it’s filled out and he uses hotmail as a mail app.

    Any thoughts on this?

    BTW, love your blogs!

  44. Hi Chad,

    The only way your client can save the pdf is if he/she has the full version of the pdf. Also, try to google the topic of “saving pdf”.

  45. Lucy,

    Sorry for the delayed response if I haven’t already answered you via email. I suggest using a list of ‘radio buttons’ as opposed to check boxes. From memory (which isn’t great) you can select one radio button from the options. Not more than that.


    To save the form, you’ll need Adobe Acrobat (as Hue kindly suggested). Glad you like my blogs, cheers!

  46. I have developed a form with Life Cycle. But when the data is sent to me, it comes as an xhtml. I have tried using Adobe Acrobat 8 Professional, and it will not open, just jibberish. I have change default handling to static, but it still sends as an xhtml. Any suggestions

  47. Deb,
    I belief you have to save the form in a folder, then open the blank form. Then try to open the xhtml file while the blank form is open, all of the data should automatically fill in the blank form.

  48. Is it possible to “back-save” an Adobe Interactive file from Adobe 9 to a previous version of Adobe Acrobat?

  49. Dear David

    i created an interactive pdf with a mail to me button. on clicking the button, the data will be exported and attached to the desktop mail application. The problem is, in the To address, along with my e-mail address, there are some unwanted text. The text that has to come in the body of the mail appears in the To address. So if the address is not corrected, the mail fails to deliver. But the triky part is it works in some computers and causing this problem in some other computers. All the computers I tested has Reader 8 installed. I could not sort out the problem. Please help me on this


  50. I created a pdf form, sent to my client. He filled it out and sent it back to me. But when I open the form, i can change the data filled out by him and resave the form, this way any one can change the responses received and save the form again. Is there a simple way as to when a filled up form is returned, the filled up data can not be altered??

  51. Hi Vishal,

    No, pretty much anyone with the Adobe professional (full version) will have the capability to change the content. Unless after your client filled out the information, he printed the form out in pdf format and email it. But like I said, if someone had the intension of altering the data, they can always do it one way or another. So that is on set-back that you have to keep in mind while using adobe forms.

    Have a wonderful Memorial weekend everyone! :-)

  52. Hi David,

    Thanks a lot for such a nice & valuable article.

    I have done all the step properly…but as per your instruction…”
    ..When a client has completed the questionnaire, and they press the ’submit’ button, their answers will be sent (in XML format) directly to your inbox. Upon receiving the XML attachment by email, you then need to save the file to your hard drive.”

    If I consider myself as a user…after submitting the button …A xml save window is coming..BUT No mail is coming to my mail id (as a author, which I have add in the Submit button function)

    Please Help….


    Best Regards


  53. Sorry, Sanghita. My only advice, unfortunately, is to search the programme’s help guide (if there is one). I stopped using the software some time ago.

  54. Sanghita,

    I don’t remember which option, but if you search in the help link, there should be a place where you can input the email address where you want the XML file to be sent to. If you need more help, please let me know, I can provide a more descriptive instruction if you can not find anything. I just browsed the web for some help. I found a link that might be helpful to you.
    If you still need help, email me your form and I can help you fix it. My email address is:

  55. Hello,

    I just created an enrollment form for potential members to join an alumni association. The majority of these enrollees are students who primarily use web-based email servers such as hotmail, gmail, yahoo, etc. I have discovered that after the enrollee completes the form then clicks on the Submit button Acrobat tries to connect with a default email server such as Outlook, which is not used. How does the enrollee then send the form to my email using their web-based email? What other means do I have in retrieving the form data?


  56. Sanghita
    If you use lifecycle designer 8.2 (it comes with CS4), when you start a new document, it takes you through 3 steps. 1, getting started 2, document setup and 3, form return setup. There you have to click “Add an email button” and give the email id where the data has to be returned.

    If you already have a pdf and want to convert it into a form, then if you open it in Lifecycle designer, add a ‘submit form’ button. Then go to Window—>object. A palette appears and there you can enter your email id. I think this option will be same in earlier versions also.

  57. Anthony
    When you click on the submit by email button, Adobe reader asks you whether you are going to send the document through desktop email application or internet email. If the enrolee uses an internet email, he/she can select the internet email application.
    Once that option is selected, the xml file can be saved to the desktop or anywhere and then can be sent as an attachment to the intended recepient.
    How do you know who is the intended recepient? When you click on internet email option and click ok, you will be presented with a dialogbox where the save data button will be available and below that the email id of the intended recepient will be there.

  58. Thanks for your LiveCycle design blog. Simple question please? Why such ugly grey Email Submit buttons? Isn’t there some way to add Email Submit functionality (or URL hyperlink) to custom images that I embed? Thank you from Arizona, USA

  59. Thank you for this post. I am wondering if there is a way that we can create a form that has the ability to present a list of options through a link. So if they selected option 3 out of List A and option 1 out of List B, these would be your results.

    I hope this makes sense.

  60. Elizabeth,

    For the ugly gray button, I am not sure if there is a way that you can change it. Let me look around to see if I can find something to help you.
    As for the second question, the only way that I know is to hard code using JAVA to code in what you want the form to do. But out of the box, it does not have that capability.

  61. Hi,
    I’m a newbie so please bear with my questions/ignorance.

    I would like to create an interactive form in a multi-page format. I would like to display our fifty odd products, divided into 5 different categories. The client browses through these pages then selects those that he wants to buy.

    The interactive form should display the client’s choices along with the Total purchase order.

    In short, a little like a on-line catalogue and cart/basket that we see while buying online.

    I have acrobat Pro with Lifecycle Designer. Am not certain if this is even possible on Acrobat. Can someone please help me with my question?
    Thanks in advance.

  62. If you just want a table that lists all of your products and have the total box at the end of the form, then yes it is possible. You can insert the “sum” function for the total merchandise and amount.

  63. Hi Hue,
    Thanks for your answer.
    Yes, I’ve figured out to do simple calculations from the numerous tutorials available on acrobat users website, but my question is, is it possible for me to get the list of only those products that the client selects; say, he selects 3 items, out of a possible 50, I want just these three items listed at the bottom to be summed up.
    if this is possible, how can I go about it and/or where do i find the resources.
    thanks in advance for your help.

  64. Hi Vijee,

    I am not sure if summing the total product and amount of the purchase is feasible. The reason is out of the box it does not have the expandable table capability. Do you know any one that knows Java coding? The system accepts Java codes, maybe (not sure because I have not try it) hard coding what you want might work. I would recommend you talk to the Adobe experts and ask them if this option is available.
    Sorry Vijee, I could not help you much because I did not have a chance to install Life cycle in my new computer yet, and I am writing this based on what I’ve done in the past.
    Whatever the result is, please share it with us so we can all learn from it.
    Thanks again and have a wonderful day.

  65. Hi Hue,
    The acrobat users community users got back to me with some good examples & answers, check out this site where an expert talks about brochure and order form total calculated based on it using acrobat…;
    this is eactly what i want except I’m unable to see where his scripts are, ;-(…;so am back to square one & still looking!
    If you want to know more check out this forum link:

  66. Can someone please email me at with an answer and put Livecycle in the subject so I don’t miss it?

    This is my first time using Acrobat in conjunction with Livecycle to make an interactive form. Basically all I need is a title that is not editable and underneath that I want a blank box where people can type so they have the option of typing then printing out the form. When I insert the text field box, the cursor appears left justified but in the middle so when people start typing, there is a huge gap of white space between the title and the text they’ve entered. I’d like their typing to come immediately below the title. Is this possible? Can anyone help? Please email. Thanks!

  67. Hi Sarah,

    Has anyone email you regarding this issue yet? I think it is just a matter of adjusting the location of your text box if I understand your question correctly. The way the form works is after you are done with creating the form, the text that you entered will not be editable, only the text field that you created will be editable by the whomever using your form. I hope this helps. Please let us know if you still need more help.

    Have a wonderful day!

  68. Thanks for helping, Hue. I received a reply from Sue after your comment was sent to her (which I’m sure she meant to send your way) that read:

    “Thanks for your reply! That did the trick.”

  69. Hi there!
    I purchased Creative Suite CS3 and am trying to use Adobe Lifecycle Designer 8/. What I want to complete is a disk with multiple forms created that would allow each disk holder to open a form in Adobe Reader, complete it, and save it to their local computer (just incase time does not allow the full completion of the form – and they can go back to it). My problem is that any form I complete, when opened on a secondary computer, states that any data completed cannot be saved, only printed. I noticed there was a program called Lifecycle Designer ES2, is this additional software required, or is it a simple selection that I have missed on the basic Designer 8??? Any assistance would be greatly appreciated!

  70. I’ve read your tutorial for How To Create Interactive PDF forms. I have PDFs which I’ve created through Acrobat 7 Professional and have made them interactive forms. I’ve also included a submit button that has been set up to send an email which will include the actual PDF and data entered as opposed to just the data being entered. When I test this in Adobe Reader and click the submit button I get a message saying “Operation Not Permitted”.

    Any suggestions?

  71. Thanks for this article, i was trying to figure out how to give the reader permission to save and print, I pulled my damn hair out till I read your answer in the comments, thank you thank you

  72. Early this AM I googled around and found out about LifeCycle Designer and found I have it along with my Acrobat Pro 9.

    I am trying to create an interactive .pdf form for lab users to fill out, click on check boxes, and add comments to – and I want the comment section to be expandable.

    I started yesterday – given a form in Word, converted to .pdf and I can add the checkboxes and a comment text form, but I cannot get it to be expandable, nor can I save the form in such a way that I can do anything else with it.

    I need to get this done by next week. Any ideas out there?

  73. Hi Syble,

    Sorry for taking so long to get back to you, here is a list of properties that you should update when you set up the form.

    The form must be saved as dynamic pdf. Set the page content to flowed
    instead of positioned. Set the text field to allow multiple lines and
    page break within content and, in layout, set either height or width
    to expand to fit or both.

  74. Hi David,
    I’m afraid my situation is even more bleak. I have 2 existing Forms created in MS Word. The people upstairs usually just convert them to .pdf and their text fields are editable, but not save-able, nor expandable when users work with Acrobat Reader. That’s how THEY do it.

    My boss though wants me to maker her a hero by my figuring out how to add capabilities that will allow Acrobat Reader users to:

    1) fill out the forms electronically and SAVE the form with the data,

    2) add as much commentary as they need as the form expands to meet their needs, pushing the rest of the form to the next page. This expanded text does not have a scroll bar. AND

    3) create a button that users can click on to create a NEW ROW for more user-input.

    I know these things can be done because my boss provided me with another form from another department – and it did all these things. I believe that the form was created from scratch using LC Designer and not from a complicated, existing form.

    Is there any hope? Help? Or must I recreate each page of these forms from scratch in LC designer? And is LiveCycle Forms ES a whole different product or is it within LiveCycle Designer itself?

    The help files are not quite too helpful. Thank you so much!

  75. Hue, sorry about that… I didn’t even catch that you made an answer to me. If you have any clues, feel free to toss them to me! Thanks!

  76. Hello Syble, is there a reason why you don’t use online forms instead of PDFs? My knowledge of LiveCycle Designer is very limited, so I’m unable to answer your questions unfortunately. However you choose to work the forms, I hope you sort the issues soon.

  77. Hi Syble,

    The answers for your questions are listed below:
    (1) can be done by changing the settings in properties.
    (2) and (3) cannot be done because the form is converted from Word, hence, a static form. Only dynamic form, which must be natively created in LC, can have these capabilities. If you need additional help, please let me know.

  78. Hi David, Hue,

    The form is not an online form. It has a different purpose. I have begun creating in LiveCycle Designer 8.2) a form that will serve the purpose but not look exactly like what we want. I was able to get the Add and Delete Row buttons to work (copied from another form) and the rows on my tables now expand to fit the text. But the text was covering anything that was under it on the form.

    Another LC designer person looked at my form and made a change so that the expanded text box pushed everything under it down so it isn’t covered up.

    I just don’t know exactly how he did it – he said it had to:
    “be in a flowed container – that he wrapped the different sections of the form in a positioned subform and the flowed outer subform will place them one after the other left justified.”
    He also said:
    “to add additional content I have to create a positioned subform first, then place my objects in that subform. The positioned subform will take the height of the objects inside of it so I may have to resize it.”
    I’ve been just adding my tables and fields and buttons and hoping to make it work somehow.

    Is there a set of steps I can take to set up each table so that everything works the way I need it to? That would be so helpful. Or sample code to make a simple table that has rows that expand AND push subsequent objects down upon expanding?
    Thank you!!

  79. Hi Syble,

    This form must be created in LC originally and cannot be an imported document. How soon do you need this? You can email it to me at: I can take a look at this for you, and provide some comments.

    Take care,


  80. Hi David,
    I have a quick question for you. I have been a long time Adobe Acrobat user. In version 6.0 I could create forms that could be filled out (with auto calculations) and printed without any problems. I now have 8 and Livecycle designer. I cannot get anything to calculate themselves. I have tried to search on the web and look at the adobe PDF tutorial.
    Any ideas?

  81. Aaron,
    The answer dependson whether the form will be created in Acrobat 8 or LiveCycle Designer.

    In LiveCycle Designer, the scripts to do calculations can be done in
    the script editor (Window >> Script Editor) or a script object (in the hierarchy panel). The scripts written in the script editor are only for the individual object being selected. The script objects are
    available for the entire form and the functions in the script objects
    can be called by any object on the form.

    In Acrobat, the calculations and scripts can be done in the properties of the fields. Options for more advanced scripts and actions are available in Advanced >> Document Processing

  82. Hi,

    I have a Livecyle 8.0 I have a form that when a user fill out, it returns to me. Once I see the form that is returned and I make a change to the information provided how do refresh the data set to reflect the change?

  83. Each copy of the form has its own data set. If you make a change on
    one form, you can’t see it on the other. Unless you have a database or LiveCycle server to centrally store and synchronize the data.

  84. Hello – is this still an active forum?

    Can I have a date/time connected to a Signature Field, when the field is implemented? I need some kind of track for this.

    Thank you!

  85. Did anyone try to create a running number on the interaction PDF form? I wish to have a running form number which will auto increase upon user download or view the form.

    Can someone give me some advices? Thank you!

  86. hi,
    i read your article on how to create a pdf form….that was awesome…but one problem i m facing is that the XML file doesnt get open in Adobe Acrobat Pro..
    as you said that in Adobe Acrobat Professional. In the ‘file’ menu choose ‘form data’ / ‘import data to form’ and there’s a prompt to locate the client file (the one saved from the email).
    but there is no ‘form data’ / ‘import data to form’ in the file menu in my version.. i m using version 9….
    could you plz guide my how to do it… i m sorry for bothering you..
    thanks a ton…

  87. HI, I currently have an internal order form ( ordering within the company) but am trying to create a PDF form, i have it all set out and works well, except I want to be able to have this PDF form on all department computers in un-filled form, and when something is needed to be ordered simply fill in the form and hit send, and then my purchasing department can open the email/PDF and read it, Not needing to edit it, only print off or forward via email. at the moment with the send to email option it sends it and must be opened in acrobat pro. i simply want to be able to send the filled in form to another computer so they can read the information that has been imputed. Im guessing if the PDF is saved as a different name and then attached via email this would work but that is alot of hassel. do you have any suggestions for me?

    Nico de jong

  88. Hi Nico,
    If PDF is the preferred method at your company, the only viable option I know right on top of my head requires a LiveCycle server to handle the form distribution and data collection. When data collection and preservation is required, there must be a database somewhere to store and manage the data. I’m not aware of any database management capability in a stand-alone Acrobat/LiveCycle application.

  89. Hi there!
    I have been using LiveCycle Designer for creating interactive forms and found it to be very useful. Since we are in the service industry most of our forms are used by customers and often we come across complaints that they are unable to save the content once typed in the form. In order to protect the pre-printed content of the form, the forms are protected by us. I would really appreciate if you could please provide a solution in enabling the form with ‘save’ features without compromising on the security aspects.
    Regards, Raj, Dubai

  90. Raj,

    Unfortunately, the only way your customers can save the form is if they have the adobe professional version.

  91. Can the customer print their response before sending? This way they would have a copy of the information.

    A great article because it will help me with a new PDF we are working on to post to our website

  92. John,

    Yes, the customer can print their responses and select the “PDF printer” before submitting their responses.

  93. I have a question I haven’t been able to find any resources on.
    I am trying to create a medical interactive pdf for a request form of service. There is an image (I will say it is of a hand) and I want the doctor or the patient to be able to click on an image of the hand wherever they feel pain or are having problems- so if they are having problems in their index finger, they can click there and something like an x or a dot will appear to mark where on the image it is.

    How can I do this in an interactive .pdf?

  94. Hello, I am new to LC but progressing quickly. I have a PDF with fillable fields that works great, except that I need to have users fill and submit the PDF from a website. Everything works fine, except for Print and Email. Neither works and I need some help. I can’t depend on users being smart enough to save a copy and then filling out the PDF on their local machines.

  95. Hi Michael,

    If the user do not have the professional version of adobe, they will not be able to save the document. They can Print it in PDF and save it that way. The print function tie to how the printer is being set up in their local printer as well. So there isn’t anything that you can do, for the email, you just have to make sure that the format that you entered is correct. Hope this helps.

  96. Allie,
    I don’t know how to do what you just describe, but I forwarded your question to an expert and I am hoping that I can get an answer back soon.


  97. Hi,

    You don’t need a professional copy of Acrobat to save a filled in document. Once a form has been made interactive the last step to do is to open up the document in Adobe Acrobat, go to Advanced and click on “Enable for Adobe Reader”. Then the Adobe Reader user will be able to fill in the document and Save it.


  98. I want to have the completed files emailed to a SharePoint Library. What will the auto file name be when it arrives there?
    Also I am trying to edit an existing file and there is a purple framework (header) around the pdf with some user instructions, I cannot seem to get to it to edit it. The header does not show in the Design View but is there when I Preview PDF. Any assistance and thoughts is appreciated!

  99. Hi David,
    This is probably a silly question but all this is new to me. The medical practice I manage has online pdf forms that patients can print and fill out prior to coming to the appointment. Can I import the existing pdf forms into Adobe LiveCycle software and create interactive fields where patients fill in the blank or do I have to create the pdf forms from scratch? I also have the pdfs in word document if that makes it any better? Thank you for your assistance.

  100. How can I make the PDF form created by Adobe LiveCycle Designer ES 8.2 compatible with Acrobat 7.0 and earlier versions?

  101. The problem with this system is its only interactive for the user and requires considerable effort on admin receiving emails, keeping track of them and uploading the form data to a database.

    I have asked on numerous time for a direct database input but so far this is ONLY available via SAP.

    Emailing contact and other customer requests is a very inefficient method of processing data.

  102. Is anyone still monitoring this page/thread? I have a Live Cycle Designer question/challenge. I have a Text Field (wrapped in a subform — I think) on a Dynamic form set with allow multiple lines and expand vertically.

    The main page is set to flowed, with Western Text selected. When I test the PDF my text field expands but will not create the new new page to keep the inputted data flowing to the next page… what am I doing wrong?

  103. I have a question if someone could help. I made an interactive form in LiveCycle, saved as Reader Enabled PDF and everything shows up on one page. My problem is that when I send this file to someone else, they open it and it’s coming up on 2 pages. I do have a few sub-forms in it that are set to ‘flowed’ with ‘allow multiple lines’, but it should only go to 2 pages if someone enters in those particular boxes. Also, it won’t let me change the layout & magnification under properties, which I thought would correct my problem.

  104. Does LiveCycle have the capability to run form field recognition? I created a form in MS Word and was able to run form field recognition after I converted it to Adobe Acrobat. However, I don’t seem to be able to find run form field recognition in LiveCycle.

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