I have a Word source document which I'm using to create a PDF form. The first go-round, everything is fine because I can let Acrobat Pro auto-create all the fields. That feature is actually pretty awesome. However, after spending a bunch of time adjusting field sizes and alignments and formats and so on, I want to edit the source document, and now I'm faced with the prospect of doing all that over again.

Isn't there some way to add the fields in the source document using the Developer ribbon and have those fields be preserved in the conversion to PDF? If not, what other ways are there to avoid this kind of redundant effort?

  • Instead of using Acrobat, you can use Office 2010, when you use save as it saves document as PDF without trouble.
    – Hamed JML
    Jul 1 '12 at 4:08

If I understand, Word's ability to export PDFs is not doing what you want?

I suggest you try Openoffice.org and/or LibreOffice (which are still very, very similar). The PDF export built into OOo has worked great for me in the past.


Use Adobe InDesign, it's a program which is designed specifically to handle this (Among other things). It will let you name fields and buttons etc, adjust them in-program and export them as a fillable PDF directly etc. The only Form options it will not let you do is Java scripts and default text which could be quickly changed in Acrobat. InDesign is payware, but it's really the best option I think if you intend to do a lot of this.


All you need to do is re-save the document as a PDF, import the PDF as a form, then allow Adobe Acrobat to automatically recognize where your fields are. Refer to this article for instructions on how this is done.

Alternatively, you can edit and reorder text, using Adobe Acrobat. This is probably the fastest and simplest way to make a few quick changes. If this is the case, you should use the advanced editing tools (namely the TouchUp Text tool). This page provides assistance finding the TouchUp Text tool in Acrobat X.

  • 4
    No, this is exactly the opposite of what I want. I've already tried this method and find it too cumbersome. I want to never, ever have to manually edit anything in Acrobat, ever. I want to do 100% of the editing in Word (including placement of form fields), and I want to publish that form as a fillable PDF form. Jun 27 '12 at 18:48
  • +1 If Acrobat is not automatically picking out the right fields, there might be a problem of spacing. See Convert Microsoft Word Lease to Fillable, Editable PDF Form Lease.
    – harrymc
    Jun 30 '12 at 8:08
  • harrymc: no, even when it picks the right fields (which it mostly does), that's beside the point: Acrobat isn't smart enough to name the fields the way I want (and never will be), and it isn't smart enough to know what formats to set on fields, etc. It's very important that I not have to do any manual changes at all outside of Word. Jul 2 '12 at 23:11
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    @Ben - I'm not sure I would call wizlog's answer "exactly the opposite" of what you want to do. I would consider the opposite as starting with a PDF and converting it to Word while preserving the fields.
    – jww
    Jun 22 '14 at 7:25

The best program I found is ABBY PDF Transformer. The description from their site:

ABBYY PDF Transformer 3.0 is the ideal solution for anyone working with PDF files. This intuitive, versatile, multilingual tool enables you to easily convert PDF file of any type into editable formats with the original layout and formatting retained. In seconds, you can create a PDF file directly from Microsoft Office applications, combine multiple files from different sources into one PDF, or modify PDF files according to your needs — redact sensitive information, add stamps and bates stamps, turn your files into searchable and protected PDFs, or convert into PDF/A format for long-term archiving.

It places 2 icons on your Word toolbar. Transform a PDF File and Create a PDF File.

It is somewhat expensive, but if you are often converting documents, it is well worth it. It was an excellent buy. It keeps the formatting of transformed documents pretty well.

  • 1
    But does it create editable fields in the PDF file?
    – Ellesa
    Jul 9 '12 at 9:20

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