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I have a very long government form. I would like to make a PDF version of it, and have that PDF look exactly like the existing form (or close to it). Obviously I could painstakingly go through all 13 pages with the PDF creation tool of my choice and add each element manually, tweaking the dimensions and fonts and alignment until everything was juuuuust right. Is there a faster way? Some sort of tool that could at least create an initial draft that I could then modify as needed?

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1 Answer 1

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Adobe Acrobat can do it:

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Here's a handy tutorial:

  1. At the top right in Acrobat, click the Tools pane.
  2. Open the Forms panel. Click Create.
  3. Select Existing Document and click Next.
  4. Choose one of the following options:
    a. Use the current document or choose another file
    b. Scan a paper form and convert it into a PDF fillable form
  5. Acrobat analyzes the document and adds interactive form fields. Inspect the form fields list in the Fields panel. You use the form names when collecting and analyzing data, so make sure that each name is unique and descriptive. To change a field name, double click and type the desired name in the General tab. Click close.
  6. To edit fields, select the field and click Edit Fields in the Tasks panel. You can also add fields.
  7. At the top of the Forms Editing toolbar, click Preview (This button toggles between Edit and Preview.) to display the form as a recipient will see it and to test form behavior. To return to editing mode, click Edit.
  8. When finished, at the top right in Acrobat, click the Close Form Editing button. Save your PDF form.
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Thanks, this was the perfect answer. Sadly my experience was that the automatic recognition doesn't work very well.I made a form with very clear boxes and labels but the form Acrobat generated missed a lot of them and put in a lot of junk fields. It only seemed to do a mostly correct job when I modified the scan and replaced boxes with underlines. –  Brian Schroth Mar 1 '13 at 18:16

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