Fillable PDF forms are PDF documents that include certain fields that can be edited without a PDF-editor software. Any fillable PDF that opens in modern PDF viewers (Acrobat, Chrome, etc.) will show these field in a particular way.
Please Note: Due to several limitations, we recommend using this functionality with caution and only for uses with low business impact.
The base for such fields in Word are either Word content controls or legacy form controls. As DocumentsCorePack placeholders are also Word content controls, the creation of such forms with pre-filled information is possible.
How to enable fillable fields in your template
To enable this functionality with DocumentsCorePack, you have to set the “Preserve Form Fields for PDFs” in the Advanced Template Settings. If you are new to DocumentsCorePack and Template Design, we encourage you to look at DocumentsCorePack Template Designer – Getting Started before continuing.
Even though the setup is fairly straight forward, there are several things to consider. We elaborate on the most important characteristics and limitations in the following sections.
Supported field types
The supported types of content controls in general are textboxes, checkboxes and picklists. Any field inserted with the DocumentsCorePack Template Designer is essentially a content control. To insert content controls that are not related to DocumentsCorePack, you simply can use Word.
To access the content control properties, you need to have the developer tab enabled in Word.
Content Controls are inline objects. This means that their size is defined by their content. If, for example, a DCP field does not have any data, there would be no fillable field available in the resulting PDF. To overcome this limitation, you can use condition fields.
When a field does not have any data, you can define the size of the content control inserted with Word with a specific placeholder text. In the example template at the end of this article, you will see such a setup for the “First Name” and “Last Name” fields. To make it easier to see the setup of the fields, you can use the Template Explorer.
The legacy textbox controls have a slightly different behavior. These textboxes do not require content. However, the size is limited to around five characters. You can see such a field in the attached sample template, next to “I already have a preliminary member number”.
Form fields do not work in textboxes or tables. The only exception for tables are textboxes in basic layouts, with text only. Numbers, emails, hyperlinks or other data as content will prevent them from working as well.
Additional options on content controls
If you are using a mixture of files, it is required to define which fields should be fillable and which ones should not be fillable.
To access the content controls properties, select a content control in your document ❶ and click on ❷ Properties. You will see a Content Control Properties dialog ❸.
For DocumentsCorePack fields, it is important that you DO NOT change the tag or title fields. Changing this information may result in an error or missing data during the document generation.
To prevent a field from being editable after document creation, you have to check the box for Contents cannot be edited.
Even though the basic setup of fillable PDF Forms is pretty straight forward, there are several things to consider. Besides the set of the summarized guidelines below, we also created a basic template based on the table contact to get started with this feature.
The most important considerations for fillable PDF forms in a summarized short list:
- DocumentsCorePack is not a full replacement for a software to create fillable PDFs and should only be used for low business impact uses
- Content Controls are inline objects, which means the size of them is defined by their content. That being said, the size of the form fields cannot be predefined or modified without any content. The legacy form text boxes behave differently and show without any content, but only have a fixed size of about 5 characters.
- Form fields do not work in textboxes or tables. The only exception for tables are textboxes in basic layouts, with text only. Numbers, emails, hyperlinks or other data as content will prevent them from working.
- Form fields do not allow a type restriction. For example, a field cannot be limited to allow only numeric input.
That’s all about fillable PDF forms! We appreciate your feedback! Please share your thoughts by sending us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org!
Condition Fields (DocumentsCorePack)
Enable the developer tab in Word
DocumentsCorePack Template Designer – Getting Started
Template Explorer (DocumentsCorePack)
External: Content Controls (Microsoft)
Sample PDF From created with DocumentsCorePack:
Sample Template based on contact: