I want to use OpenOffice.org to produce some forms for students to fill in and email to their instructors. I want these forms to be in PDF so students can use Adobe Reader (or any other PDF viewer with form-filling capability, if there are any, or any browser equipped with the Adobe Reader plug-in) to fill them in.
Unfortunately, I cannot do that using OOo alone: filled-in PDF forms created by OOo cannot be saved or emailed. (The filled-in data can be dealt with in other ways, not appropriate for this situation.) I did find an easy way to do it, using Adobe Acrobat Standard or Adobe Acrobat Pro. Although I dislike the necessity to use Acrobat, I am doing so for this project. Here is the method I used:
- Create the form in OOo Writer. (Refer to Chapter 15, Using Forms, in the Writer Guide.) See Tip below for an easy way to create space for someone to type in answers.
- Export the file to PDF. On the General tab of the PDF Options dialog, be sure to select the option for Create PDF form and set the Submit format to PDF.
- Open the PDF in Adobe Acrobat. Choose Forms > Run Form Field Recognition from the menu bar. If you had text fields in the form, the left-hand section of the results should be a Recognition Report. Scroll to the bottom of this section and click on To fix this text field…. (Picture below shows what it looked like after clicking on that link.) This enables typing in the spaces created using the tip at the end of this post.
- Save the file under another name if you wish.
- Choose Advanced > Enable Usage Rights in Adobe Reader from the menu bar. This is necessary for people to be able to save and email the PDF with the filled-in data.
- Save the file.
Tip: If you want to have a space for someone to type in a short answer, you don’t need to create a text box form control. I used the underscore key (Shift+hyphen) to create an underscored space of appropriate length, which Acrobat converted into a type-in field. This also worked when I defined a right-aligned tab with the underscore as the fill-in character. Saved a lot of typing; once the tab was defined, all I needed to do was press the Tab key once to get a whole line of underscores.
However, if you want a multiple-line area for lengthy typing and text wrap at the end of lines, you will need to use a text box form control.