In this guide, you will learn how to make a fillable PDF form without Adobe Acrobat. In the past, you could only create a form with Adobe Acrobat Pro. However, there are now other programs that can do this for you.

As you’ll soon discover, Adobe isn’t your only option. This guide highlights some of the most popular methods for making your own fillable PDFs. So join the discussion below to see just how easy it is to get started.

What Is Adobe Acrobat?

Adobe Acrobat

Adobe Acrobat is a highly useful application that makes it easy to work with PDFs. Not only can you view PDF files, but you can also interact with them in a number of ways. As you can imagine, this is incredibly useful.

Many documents are PDF (Portable Document Format). Thus, there needs to be a program that can manipulate these files at will. Adobe Acrobat is that program, and at one time, was the only show in town.

Let’s take a moment to explore some of the things Adobe Acrobat can do so you have a better understanding of its need among users and organizations.

  • Open PDFs
  • Fill in PDFs
  • Read PDFs
  • Print PDFs

If you wish to create and edit PDFs, however, you will need to subscribe to the “Pro” version of Adobe Acrobat, which is known as Adobe DC or Adobe Document Cloud PDF. Understandably, not everyone wants to pay for this service, making it all the more necessary to know how to make your own fillable PDFs without Adobe’s products or services.

Today, there are many such programs that can do most of the things that made Adobe Acrobat famous. Whether you need to edit an existing PDF, use a template, or create your own from scratch, this guide will show you how without Adobe Acrobat.

There are a number of reasons why you might not want to use Adobe Acrobat. But the most common reason users give has to do with the application’s complexity. So if you want an easy and straightforward way to make a fillable PDF form, this guide is for you.

Why You Might Need Fillable PDF Forms

PDF form

Fillable PDF Forms are helpful for many reasons. They allow you to collect data, gather information, or get various types of feedback related to your brand or business.

They’re great when you’re looking for discrete data that isn’t sensitive in nature. For example, if you’re conducting a survey for marketing purposes or creating an order form for customers who want to order something online.

Yet, they are also ideal for sensitive information since you can use them to collect whatever you like. Consider W-2 tax forms, for example. As a business owner, you are responsible for providing these to your employees.

The W-2 form contains many blank lines that need to be filled in, such as:

  • Wages, tips, other compensation
  • Federal income tax withheld
  • Social security wages
  • Allocated tips
  • And so on…

A W-2 in PDF allows you or your accountant to fill in the necessary information in a neat, concise, and timely manner. This is just one example of when fillable PDF forms come in handy. There are virtually countless other scenarios where you may need a PDF to streamline your operations.

You never need to worry about missed information because the person filling in the form will also be able to review it before submitting it. And if mistakes happen (which they sometimes do), you’ll be able to make changes without having someone call or email your business about them.

This is a huge benefit for businesses and government entities that need to collect specific information that can and will have more than one answer. For example, you might send out a form that asks people to enter their personal data (name, address, phone number) or insurance information.

Obviously, you’re going to get a lot of different answers. But with a fillable PDF form, the person filling in the requested information can type or write in whatever they please rather than select from multiple-choice entries (and they can do that, too).

Thus, this allows for both variety and specification — something you can’t always get from non-fillable documents.

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Making Fillable PDFs without Adobe Acrobat

As stated, there are numerous ways to go about making fillable PDFs without Adobe Acrobat. Let’s explore some of the most popular options and go over them one at a time. We will detail the steps you need to take to create fillable PDFs with each of the applications listed below.

Making a Fillable PDF with ApowerPDF  

apower pdf

If you need something flexible and user-friendly, ApowerPDF is your ticket. The interface alone is enough to attract users looking for an alternative to Adobe Acrobat. It’s sleek, stylish, and a breeze to operate.

What’s more, you get a whole host of options that let you easily edit PDFs. For example, you can add watermarks, graphics, text, and more. Better yet, there aren’t a ton of additional steps to go through to use these features, making the program highly accessible.

When you’re ready to make a fillable PDF, you simply need to follow the steps below.

  1. Open the application.
  2. Click “Create.”
  3. Then, choose “Blank Document.”
  4. With your document open, navigate to and click on the tab that says “Forms.”
  5. From there, you may add the fillable fields you want in your document.
  6. To edit a field, double-click on it.
  7. When finished, go to “File” and select “Save.”

ApowerPDF lets you edit your fields in different ways. You can change their looks, layout, and name to ensure that your PDF suits your needs. With the program’s simplicity and ease of use, ApowerPDF is a viable entry for making fillable PDFs.

You’ll have to pay to use ApowerPDF, but there is a free — albeit limited — trial available. And you can choose between monthly access and a yearly membership.

Making a Fillable PDF with JotForm

Free Online Form Builder & Form Creator | Jotform

Whereas ApowerPDF is a standalone program that you need to download in order to use, JotForm is web-based and doesn’t require a download. Best of all, it’s completely free. There are some limitations in how many forms you can make per month with the free version. But you still get all of the same features that you find in the full versions.

To make a fillable PDF with Jot Form, follow these steps:

  1. Via your web browser, navigate to the JotForm website.
  2. Create a unique account or sign in with your existing Google or Facebook account.
  3. Once signed in, choose “Blank Form” to get started.
  4. Select “Add Form Elements.”
  5. You can now select the fillable fields you want in your PDF.

JotForm’s appeal is in its simplicity (and $0 cost). Once you create an account, you’ll be able to manage your created PDFs. You may also choose from pre-made templates, and you can even import existing forms.

While the free version limits you to five forms and 100 submissions, it’s still a solid platform for creating fillable PDFs. If you just need to make a PDF here and there, JotForm is definitely worth a look.

Making a Fillable PDF with Microsoft Word

 Microsoft Word

Microsoft Word is another program that allows you to make fillable PDFs — as long as you have the version Microsoft Word 2010 or higher. There are admittedly more steps to follow, but it won’t cost you a thing if it’s already on your computer.

  1. With Microsoft Word open, go to “File,” then “Open,” and select the Word document of your choosing. You may also select “New” instead of “Open” if you don’t have an existing Word document.
  2. Next, go back to “File,” then “Options,” and “Customize Ribbon.” Find “Developer” and make sure it’s on. Click “OK.”
  3. The Developer tab will now appear available to you.
  4. Highlight the text you wish to make fillable and select either “Plain Text Content Control” or “Rich Text Content Control.”
  5. In these fields, users can fill in the information you request. If you want to give them multiple choices to choose from, simply select “Combo Box Content Control” or “Drop-Down List Content Control” under the Developer tab.
  6. You may edit the answers in these menus from the Developer tab.
  7. When you’re finished with your document, go to “File,” then “Save As.”
  8. Choose the location on your computer where you wish to save the file and enter in a file name. Before selecting “Save,” you must make sure to click the “Save as type” option below the “File name” field. A drop-down menu will present extensions; choose “PDF” and click “Save.”

Microsoft Word may be your best option if you don’t want to pay for anything extra and you don’t like limitations. You have everything you need to make fillable PDFs, and Word is already robust in its features. So if you already have it on your computer and it’s Microsoft Word 2010 or newer, you’re good to go.

In Closing

Making fillable PDF forms without Adobe Acrobat is easy when you realize just how many ways there are to do so. If you’re solely looking for the easiest option available, you have both free and paid versions to choose from. Now you don’t have to worry about subscribing to Adobe’s services to make the fillable PDFs you need.

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