Designing your PDF forms

Things to do for successful form design:

  • Decide on the information (form data) you want to collect.

  • Map out your design on some paper, keeping usability and visual appeal in mind.

  • Choose a form size and structure (single or multi-page).

  • Create the form’s background including graphics, text and other static objects.

  • Add your form fields with correct alignment and sizing.

  • Test, test and test again by clicking PagePlus tbr std publishpdf Designing your PDF Forms Publish PDF (Standard toolbar).

  • To preserve your form design, remember to check the Embed fonts option in the Advanced tab.

Using ruler guides

One of the most important design tips is to lay out your ruler guides correctly. A combination of good guide layout and alignment or distribution of form fields makes the design process a lot simpler. See Setting guides for more information.

Arranging form fields

Form fields can be arranged in the same way that other objects in PagePlus can be arranged. Ordering, aligning, distributing and resizing are all possible.


You may have already tried adding a form object of standard size by simply clicking on the Form toolbar entry and then on the page—a quick and easy way to build up your form structure.

  • It’s also possible to select your form object but to then drag your mouse cursor across the page to draw out the form field to your preferred size and shape.

Some Form fields may not need to be the standard size—a numeric field to support a maximum of three digits doesn’t need to be 25 characters wide! Fortunately, all form fields in PagePlus have resize handles which you can drag in any direction. See Resizing objects.

PagePlus form combobox resize Designing your PDF Forms

Placing Submit and Reset buttons

For web-ready forms, the general practice is to place your Submit and Reset buttons together at the end of your form. This will help to prevent premature completion of your form.

Locking form fields

Happy with your form field positioning? To prevent you from accidentally moving your beautifully positioned form fields, you can lock single or multiple form fields by right-clicking on the field(s) and selecting Arrange>Lock Objects from the drop-down menu.

Arranging tab order

The recipients of PDF forms have two options for navigating their forms—by clicking in each field in turn (using the mouse) or using the Tab key to jump from field to field. The latter method is more efficient as forms are generally designed to be completed in a sequential manner.

This tab sequence is governed by the chronological order in which the form designer adds the form fields to the page during the design process. Clearly, the form design may change during development so the tab order is prone to getting out of sequence. Fortunately, it’s possible to change the tab order from any point at the end of the design process.

To change tab order:

  1. Click the PagePlus tbr form taborder Designing your PDF Forms Tab Order button on the Form toolbar (or choose Form Field>Tab Order from the Format menu). This reveals numbered tab markers on all your form fields.

    The opposite form shows tab markers in a numerical order but with the Submit button the last to be selected.

PagePlus taborder small Designing your PDF Forms

  1. To change this order, click on the form fields in the order in which you want them to be assigned tab numbers. This automatically assigns a new tab number to the marker. As an example, your first click could be to assign 1 in the Comments field (you may want to encourage feedback first), the second click in Name, etc. The last click on the Reset button would normally not be required as Submit would be the last operation.

PagePlus taborder small2 Designing your PDF Forms

  1. Click the Tab Order button again to switch off the tab markers.


If you want to rearrange tab order from a set point, Ctrl-click on the marker prior to the marker you want to change the order of, then continue clicking through the markers as before.

  • Remember to include any Submit and Reset buttons in the Tab Order.

Changing the appearance of form fields

The appearance of your form fields can be modified at any time via Form Field Properties. The line width, style and color can be changed along with the text font and color.

Designing your PDF Forms