Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Creating Forms Automatically in Acrobat 8

One of the coolest new features in Acrobat 8 Professional is the ablility to create a form from a document using artificial intelligence to trcognize fields automatically. Here's how it works:

1) Open the document in Acrobat 8 Professional – the form can be a PDF version of a document created in Word, InDesign, Excel, Photoshop, or even an a scanned paper document.

2) Choose Forms > Run Form Field Recognition. Acrobat processes the document and displays several features in the program window:

  • The Document Message Bar, which shows the basic form information; click Highlight Fields to toggle the field background color on or off.

Highlight Fields icon

  • The new fields added to the form are highlighted.
  • The Detect Form Fields Report lists the identified fields; repair hints open in the Recognition Report panel.

Recognition Report

  • The report can be toggled open and closed by clicking the Recognition Report panel’s icon. The panel displays in the Navigation pane automatically.

3) Choose View > Navigation Panels > Fields to open the Fields panel (Figure below). The fields detected on the form are listed in alphabetical order.

To open the Fields panel

4) The panel may be docked in the Navigation pane, or tabbed with other panels. To read both the Recognition Report and the Fields panel, drag the Field panel icon (Figure below) right to detach it from the Navigation pane.

Fields panel

5) Start making corrections in the form. In the sample form, section headings are defined as Text Box fields, for example, instead of being static text. You can:

  • Select a field and delete it.

  • Double-click a field in the panel to open its Properties dialog and customize the settings.

  • Add fields as required for your project.

  • Choose “Edit form in Acrobat” from the Options menu in the Fields panel to activate the Forms toolbar and the fields on the form.

To change the tabbing order, save and close the form. Then open the form in Adobe LiveCycle Designer and revise the tabbing order.

The Form Field Recognition feature is the most helpful when used on basic forms created in Word. It can be a real time saver when used with simple forms.

However if you have a lot of graphics or a complex layout, you might want to save the original document as a PDF and then open it in Adobe LiveCycle Designer (comes bundled with Acrobat Professional 8.0) to create the interactive form elements.

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