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#14-Creating “Type-able” Printable Forms for Collecting Information

September 02, 2002

LTA Overview

The use of PDF (portable document format) files for delivering online course materials has proliferated over the last few years. Converting a Word or WordPerfect file to PDF rather than HTML ensures that all formatting will be preserved when printed, regardless as to how the end-user has their browser configured. All that is required by the end-user is that they have the free Adobe Acrobat Reader plug-in installed on their computer. As an instructor, creating PDF files is fairly straightforward, although it requires Adobe Acrobat Writer, an inexpensive program when purchased using Adobe’s educational discount.


Nancy Bowers
Instructional Design and Technology Solutions
Potsdam, NY 13676


One drawback to the use of PDF files is that they are typically not editable, only printable, yet there may be instances when you would like to use the PDF file to collect data or information from your students. Examples include:

  • Student demographic information
  • Student peer review evaluation forms
  • Questionnaire or survey
  • Application forms
  • Exams or quizzes

One approach to collecting these types of data would be to have the end-user print out the form and then fill-in the information by hand or typewriter. However, it may be easier and probably more legible to let the user enter the information using their computer. This week’s LTA will show you how to create “type-able printable” forms.

Do not confuse these “type-able” forms with forms that may be completed and submitted online. The forms we will create as a result of this LTA may be made available online, edited on a computer, but they will eventually need to be printed and returned to you in paper format. Creation of forms that may be submitted electronically is currently beyond the low threshold approach!

LTA Level

This LTA is geared toward mainstream faculty with an intermediate to semi-advanced level of technological expertise. 

LTA Outcomes

By working through this LTA, the user will be able to convert a Word or WordPerfect document into a “type-able” PDF file. 

Skills Required and Software/Hardware Recommended

Users should be comfortable with a basic word processing program (i.e., MS Word, Corel, WordPerfect) and Adobe Acrobat Writer, although detailed instructions will be provided for the use of Acrobat Writer. Required software to complete this LTA include a  word processing program and Adobe Acrobat Writer (http://www.adobe.com).

This LTA is platform-independent and may be accomplished on either a Windows-based computer or a Macintosh. No additional hardware is required.

LTA Procedure — Summary

Below is a summary of the steps for creating a “type-able printable” form:

  1. Create a form for collecting data in a Word processing program
  2. Convert your file to PDF
  3. Open the form in Acrobat Writer and define the type-able fields
  4. Save your file and post it to the web

Additional Resources

Using Acrobat Forms and Form Data on the Web: http://www.adobe.co.uk/support/toptech/acrobat/325874/main.html

Acrobat: Creating PDF Forms http://www.ku.edu/acs/docs/wkshop/acrobatforms.pdf



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