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Tips for Using Interactive PDF Forms to Gather Project Details

written by: Tara Duggan • edited by: Ronda Bowen • updated: 11/15/2010

Adding interactive ability to a Portable Document Format file (so that stakeholders and team members can send their input easily) involves designing a form using word processing software, printing it as a PDF file, assigning text areas, adding a submit button and specifying an email address.

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    Introduction

    48px-Gnome-mail-mark-read.svg Employing these tips for using interactive PDF forms to gather project details allows a project manager to communicate more effectively with team members, particularly when the team resides in different locations and uses different tools in daily operations. The project manager simply creates a document using word processing software. For example, she could open a new document, enter project plan information and create a table consisting of two rows and two columns. The first row might consist of the text “Enter your name." The second row contains the text “List objectives you think this project should achieve:" By saving the file and printing it to an Adobe PDF file, she can then make the document interactive.

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    Detect Form Fields Using Adobe Acrobat Professional

    Using forms can help the project manager impove team communication. Creating a form is actually quite easy. Open the PDF file using Adobe Acrobat Professional. From the “Forms" menu, select the “Add or Edit Forms..." option. Click the “Yes" button to respond to the question “There are no form fields in this PDF file. Do you want Acrobat to detect form fields for you?" Click the “OK" button to add the fields. Completing these steps adds fields to a PDF file.

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    Add a Submit Form to PDF Files Using Adobe Acrobat Professional

    Adding a “Submit" button allows users can return their completed form to a specified address, eliminating questions about where to send feedback or input during project planning or execution. From the “Forms" menu, select the “Form Tools" option and then select the “Combo Box" option. Drag the combo box to the lower left of the page. Type “Submit" and the click the “Show all properties" link to open the “Properties" box. Click the “Options" tab. Type “Send" enter “Submit" in the “Item" field and then click the “Add" button.Click the “Actions" tab. From the “Select an action" menu, select the “Submit a form" option and then click the “Add" button. Type “mailto:" and then enter the email address in the “Enter a URL for this link:" option. Select the “PDF The Complete Document" option and then click the “OK" button. Then, click the “Close" button.

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    Distribute Interactive PDF Files Using Adobe Acrobat Professional

    Click the “Distribute Form" button. Click the “Save" button and then enter a file name, such as “Form" and click the “Save" button. Click the “Next" button to manually collect responses in an email inbox. Click the “Next" button and then type the email addresses of the project team members. Click the “Send" button. Users receive the form, complete it and click the “Send" button to send the completed form back. Distribute plans, status reports and review documents in this manner makes conducting a document review cycle easy.

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    Conclusion

    Interactive PDF allow project managers to conduct surveys, solicit opinions and get approval on project documents. After using word processing software to create documents, the project manager uses Adobe Acrobat Professional to add form fields that make the file an interactive project management tool. Since Adobe provides the Reader software for free, this approach prevents users from being unable to use a document in the event that they can't purchase the required software necessary to open the files.

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    References and Image Credit

    • Image Credit: Gnome Mail Mark Read (http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Gnome-mail-mark-read.svg)
    • "Create PDF, edit PDF | Adobe Acrobat." Adobe. http://www.adobe.com/products/acrobat.html (accessed November 12, 2010).
    • "How to create interactive PDF forms to impress your clients." Web design and Logo design by Brian Hoff. http://www.thedesigncubicle.com/2008/12/how-to-create-interactive-pdf-forms-to-impress-your-clients/ (accessed November 12, 2010).