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How to Make a PDF Form Fillable

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Portable Document Format–commonly referred to as PDF—is one of the most frequently used formats for text files. PDFs are widely accepted in all businesses and industries. Despite their extensive use, PDFs are not always easy to create or edit. In some cases, you might want to create a PDF form that requires recipients to answer questions and fill in blanks with requested information.

There are three ways to create a fillable PDF form: you can download PDF-creation software to your computer, use an online PDF editor, or hire a freelance PDF form designer

Download a PDF Tool on Your Computer 

Using software, such as Adobe Acrobat, is the traditional way of creating PDF forms from scratch and making them fillable. If you scan an existing paper form, the software automatically recognizes and adds the input fields. You can add more features to the form, such as drop-down options and checkboxes from the toolbar at the top. Once this is done, save your form and email it to your colleagues, students, board members, or whoever you wish to share it with. 

Usually, PDF editing software is expensive and occupies a considerable amount of space on a computer. For example, Adobe Acrobat charges $19.99/per month and requires 4.5 gigabytes of space on your computer. Plus, you may have to invest time in learning how to use the software and do the job yourself. On a positive note, you only have to make a one-time investment and the software will reduce any chances of error, especially if you use one of the pre-designed templates.

In sum, the pros of using downloaded software are the ability to do offline editing, error elimination, pre-designed templates, and improved data security. The downside is that PDF software tends to be expensive, and creating PDFs can be time-consuming.

Use a Free Online PDF Tool

You can also create a fillable PDF form for free using online tools, such as Microsoft Word (online version), Google Forms, and Canva. Once you’ve created the PDF form, you can download the file on your computer and use a free online PDF editor to make the form fillable. Some of the most popular free online PDF editors are DocFly, Jotform, and Sejda.

There are paid versions of these tools, too, which offer storage space, data security, and additional features, but the free versions are enough for most needs. Besides, you can save the form or PDF file on your personal computer or on the cloud at no additional cost–you don’t have to worry about security when it comes to forms because they are public documents. However, if the form contains confidential data, you might want to consider an encrypted tool for added security. 

The main advantage of using a free online tool is that there is no cost, and they also have pre-designed templates and are easy to use for minor edits. The disadvantages are that online tools require you to invest time and energy to learn how to use it, there is a greater chance for error, and it is not secure–so your data may be at risk.

Hire a Freelancer to Create a PDF Form

By far the easiest way to make a fillable PDF form fillable is to hire a professional to take the responsibility off your shoulders and get the job done. You may have to invest some time initially to scope out the project and find the right freelancer, but this option saves time in the long run because a freelancer will know how to edit form fields in PDF.

To begin, you’ll need to upload a job posting specifying your requirements on a reliable freelance marketplace like Guru. Once you receive responses, shortlist a few suitable candidates and interview them for the job.

For a fillable PDF, it probably isn’t necessary to meet one-on-one to assess the candidate; instead, you can pay a nominal fee to have them create a sample form to get an idea of their work product. Once the freelancer has provided a sample fillable PDF within your deadline, you can hire them to convert your prepared PDF forms into fillable ones. If they’re really good at their job, you can entrust them to create PDF forms from scratch. This way, you can save time and focus on more important tasks. 

In addition, once the freelancer understands your needs, you can easily repurpose your existing forms and automate the process. Just give them an idea of what you need instead of a detailed brief, and they’ll deliver the fillable PDF form you had in mind. Hiring someone to create fillable PDFs doesn’t have to cost much–experienced freelance PDF editors charge from around $25 to $60 per project.

In Summary

Here’s a quick recap of how to make a PDF form fillable: first, you can use a software product such as Adobe Acrobat if you have to make a large number of fillable PDF forms and have the human resources to dedicate to the task. Next, you can use free online tools if you’re on a budget and only have to create fillable PDF forms for a small group of people every once in a while. Finally, opt to hire a freelancer (who adheres to PDF form design best practices) on a reliable platform like Guru if you’re on a budget or don’t have the time to create a large number of fillable PDF forms.

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