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How Can I Make Interactive and Fillable PDFs?

I get asked this question all the time!

What’s an interactive PDF?

An interactive PDF includes fields, like check boxes, and forms, spaces for readers to type in answers to questions. Many solopreneurs use these interactive features in worksheets for their digital products, and in intake forms for their clients. Interactive PDFs can also include advanced forms that link back to databases.

interactive

How to create fillable PDFS

To create PDFs with interactive fields, you first design and output your PDF (using Pages, InDesign, Word, etc.). Then, you use PDF software or apps to created the interactive and fillable bits.

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Software options for making interactive PDFs

Mac options

Adobe Acrobat XI Pro – $449
or via Creative Cloud subscription ($49.99/month)
http://www.adobe.com/products/acrobatpro.html

PDFpen Pro – $99.95
http://www.smilesoftware.com/PDFpenPro/index.html

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PC options

Adobe Acrobat XI Pro – $449
or via Creative Cloud subscription ($49.99/month)
http://www.adobe.com/products/acrobatpro.html

Adobe Acrobat XI Standard – $299
http://www.adobe.com/products/acrobatstandard.html

Nitro Pro 8 – $119.99
http://www.nitropdf.com/

CutePDF Professional – $49.95
http://www.cutepdf.com/Products/CutePDF/Pro.asp

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A web app option for making interactive PDFs

Web App (Mac & PC friendly)

PDFescape – Free
http://www.pdfescape.com/

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Hire it out option

Fiverr – $5
http://fiverr.com/
Search for fillable PDF and you’ll find lots of folks who will create interactive PDFs for you.

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Choosing the best option for you

With all software purchases, it’s best to test before buying. Download a trial version of the software you’re interested in and test it out on a one page example of whatever kind of interactive PDF you’re creating. See how it works for you.

What do I use?
As a professional designer I use InDesign or Pages for layout and design and Adobe Acrobat for creation of interactive elements and fillable forms for all my client projects.

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Ready to learn more?

Join The PDF Workshop and learn more about creating beautiful, interactive PDFs for your business.

32 Responses to How Can I Make Interactive and Fillable PDFs?

  1. Natalie January 14, 2013 at 1:07 pm #

    Great timing on this post. I’m getting ready to create forms for my 1-on-1 Fitness Jumpstart Program. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Marinda January 14, 2013 at 2:10 pm #

    Oh this is cool! I didn’t know there was free tool like PDFescape, thanks Christie!

    • christie January 17, 2013 at 12:47 pm #

      Thanks Marinda, PDFescape works really well!

  3. Cheryl January 14, 2013 at 2:52 pm #

    As usual Christie, you offer so much information that is clear and extremely helpful. Thank you.

    • christie January 17, 2013 at 12:47 pm #

      You’re welcome Cheryl!

  4. Anastasia Valentine January 14, 2013 at 3:58 pm #

    Awesome! I always wanted to do this and just never got around to figuring out how. In fact I always outsourced the task. Will definitely give one of these options a try! Thanks so much Christie! You always have awesome, practical information to share!

    • christie January 17, 2013 at 12:48 pm #

      You’re welcome Anastasia, glad this post was helpful!

  5. Megan Flatt January 15, 2013 at 12:47 pm #

    This is SO great! I had not even approached this with my PDFs because I thought my only options were expensive. I love that there are some less expensive and even free. I also just tried fiverr for the first time for transcription services and I was so impressed! I am going to check out some of these other services as well!

  6. Pam Pearson January 15, 2013 at 3:07 pm #

    What a great resource! Thanks for sharing. I’m currently completing a workbook that is a fillable PDF and thought – “How cool is this. I wonder how they did this!” Now I know. I’ll have to bookmark this so I can come back when I’m making my own.

    • christie January 17, 2013 at 12:55 pm #

      Thanks Pam. Glad this is a bookmark worthy post!

  7. Felicity Fields January 16, 2013 at 8:19 am #

    Great timing! I was just having a conversation about this with a client the other day. I knew about Adobe (we’re all PC people) but not the Fivr or PDFescape. Hmmm. Something to ponder, indeed . . .

    • christie January 17, 2013 at 12:56 pm #

      Thanks Felicity. PDFescape has some limitations but it works pretty well for a free service!

  8. Teresa Deak January 16, 2013 at 1:54 pm #

    How cool! I only know of about half of these programs! Thank you for sharing your expertise!!

    • christie January 17, 2013 at 12:56 pm #

      Thanks Teresa, glad to introduce you to new resources!

  9. eyenie January 16, 2013 at 2:29 pm #

    This is pretty exciting, I’m not gonna lie! I can’t wait to try out PDFescape! It feels like I have a whole new world of possibilities, tee hee! Thank you kindly for this kick-ass info 🙂 YAY!

    • christie January 17, 2013 at 12:57 pm #

      You are welcome Eyenie!

  10. Jacqueline Fairbrass January 16, 2013 at 6:53 pm #

    Fabulous information. I have to admit, seems somewhat overwhelming right now. But definitely something I want to look into. My first job is to get myself caught-up and organized with my scheduling. But I see this looming on the horizon this year. You are a great resource person. Thank you.

    • christie January 17, 2013 at 12:58 pm #

      Thanks Jacqueline! Just come back to it when it’s time!

  11. Leah Shapiro January 17, 2013 at 12:51 pm #

    Great list. To be honest I never thought about doing this….but I can totally see the value of it. I like that there is a free option…but knowing me- I’d hire it out on fiver. 😉

    • christie January 17, 2013 at 12:58 pm #

      Leah, fiverr really is a great option for lots of small tasks like this!

  12. Karen Ribeiro January 17, 2013 at 1:15 pm #

    Very cool. I too am looking forward to trying pdfescape. Thanks!

  13. Sabrina at MyMiBoSo January 17, 2013 at 8:49 pm #

    Brilliant Christie! Your post was manifestation at its best – I’m LITERALLY working on creating a free PDF for my newsletter subscribers next week and was thinking to myself “I wonder if there’s an easier/cheaper way to make it interactive” – and voila, here you are :).

  14. Tracey Ceurvels January 18, 2013 at 11:48 am #

    I’ve always wanted to know how to make fillable PDFs. Thanks for such a concise list. You’re a great resource as always.

  15. Jessica January 19, 2013 at 2:45 pm #

    Wow — this is awesome! I am so glad you included inexpensive (and even FREE! — who knew?!) options as well. Can do another on how to use the data from a fillable form to funnel right into a database or CRM? Pretty please? 🙂

  16. Inga Deksne January 20, 2013 at 4:28 am #

    Thanks for sharing it, that’s very useful. I was thinking about creating interactive PDFs and apart from the expensive Adobe version didn’t know about alternatives.

  17. Lisa Claudia Briggs January 21, 2013 at 2:48 pm #

    Christie.. this is so helpful..you’re always so generous with information and believe me I came very close to taking this month’s round of your workshop but timing wasn’t a good fit for me.. Soon.. defnitely, soon.

    Love to you..
    Lisa

  18. Robyn Petrik October 20, 2015 at 11:56 pm #

    This post was so helpful, thank you! I just started making content upgrades and had no idea how to create fillable boxes. PDFescape looks super handy, and I think I might try Fiverr when I need something done that PDFescape can’t do.

    • christie October 21, 2015 at 8:11 am #

      You’re welcome Robyn! Here’s to fillable forms!

  19. Catherine December 5, 2016 at 6:37 pm #

    I would just like a professional to convert the PDF to online fillable forms…. who offers this seervice ???

    • christie December 6, 2016 at 11:37 am #

      Hire it out option

      Fiverr – $5
      http://fiverr.com/
      Search for fillable PDF and you’ll find lots of folks who will create interactive PDFs for you.

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