When good form layouts don’t work
Quite a few people ask me if there is some way to make fillable text fields in InDesign. Sadly, the answer is no.
While ID can easily create interactive buttons, there is no way to make fillable text fields, in, for instance, a direct response coupon.
The best answer is to create the document in InDesign and leave rules to indicate where the fillable fields should be. (A great tutorial on this was written by Carl Young for the Adobe Acrobat User Community at:
It's very simple. You create your ID document. Export as PDF, and then in Acrobat Pro choose Forms > Run Form Field Recognition. Faster than you can say "Fill in the Blanks" Acrobat has converted all the spaces to fillable fields.
I was even able, ONCE, to get it to recognize circles and rectangles as check boxes.
But then, suddenly, my demo file stopped working. No matter what I did, I couldn't get Acrobat to recognize those elements as fillable areas.
I couldn't figure it out for months and months. (And had to keep apologizing during my demos.)
Finally, yesterday, I saw the answer.
The Form Field Recognition won't recognize elements that are inline objects. (I had cleaned up my original demo with inline objects to make everything align better.)
As soon as I swapped the inline items for ordinary objects, the Form Field Recognition feature works like a charm.
Obviously an inline object has a different page geometry than an ordinary object.
Finally, on a semi-related note, I discovered that I kept getting accessibility errors when I ran the Form Field Recognition command on my documents.
While the accessability object doesn't stop the fields from being read, it does cause a problem for those who need their forms to be compliant with Section 508 of the US Disabilities Act. (This makes sure that web pages and PDF documents can be read online using screen readers.)
If you want your PDF to pass accessibility options, you can't export from ID to Create Acrobat Layers.
I haven't done a lot of work on this second topic, but if anyone has more to add, I welcome the input.