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Methods to Fill Out PDF Forms
in Adobe (Acrobat) Reader
Comparison of Two Methods:

TABLE OF CONTENTS

I. Summary.
II. Method-1: Filling out Forms in Reader by Typing into (Interactive) Fields (Added by a Form Creator).
III. Method-2: Filling out Forms in Reader by Typing into a Flat Space.
IV. Comparison of Methods to Fill out Forms in Reader.

I. SUMMARY

There are two methods to fill out forms in Adobe (Acrobat) Reader: typing into (interactive) fields (added by a form creator) or typing into a flat space. Either method has advantages and disadvantages.

A form user has no choice, but to use the method available for a specific form:

1. If there are fields, then typing into a flat space is impossible in Adobe (Acrobat) Reader. Accordingly, a form user has to type into fields. While it is impossible to type into a flat space in Adobe (Acrobat) Reader (if there are fields), it is possible to type into a flat space in Adobe (Acrobat) full program and some third-party software (even if there are fields).

2. If there are no fields and typing into a flat space is possible, then a form user has to type into a flat space. Typing into a flat space is possible only in Reader 11 or later. While typing into a flat space is possible only in Reader 11 or later, it is possible to type into a flat space in Adobe Acrobat full program 10 and earlier. Typing into a flat space may be possible or not, depending on the file structure (static XFA, dynamic XFA, or PDF Acrobat). It is possible to type into a flat PDF Acrobat file. It is impossible to type into a flat (static or dynamic) XFA file in Adobe (Acrobat) Reader. While it is impossible to type into a flat static XFA file in Adobe (Acrobat) Reader, it is possible to type into a flat static XFA file in Adobe Acrobat full program and some third-party software. However, it is impossible to type into a flat dynamic XFA file in any program: neither in Adobe (Acrobat) Reader, nor in Adobe Acrobat full program, nor in any third-party software.

Comparison of Methods.

1. Typing into single-cell fields has advantages over typing into a flat space and over typing into a single-row of cells. The advantage is clear only if locations and properties of all fields are set correctly by the form creator and if relevant JavaScript actions are added to single-cell fields by a form creator, as in the FBF (Field-by-Field) method introduced in 2000 by USA-Federal-Forms.com).* Otherwise, the advantage is questionable.

2. Typing into a flat space has some advantages over typing into a single-row of cells. It also has many disadvantages, especially if relevant JavaScript actions are added to a single-row of cells by a form creator, as in the ITAOP (Insert Text Anywhere on Page) method introduced in 2000 by USA-Federal-Forms.com.* In general, typing into a flat space and typing into a single-row of cells are two methods with about of the same value.

Note: In general, the JavaScript actions (to change locations and properties of fields) are needed only to type in Adobe (Acrobat) Reader. No JavaScript actions are needed to type in Adobe Acrobat full program, because in the Acrobat full program a user can change locations and properties of any field without using any JavaScript actions -- unless there are security restrictions (set by creator). Security restrictions may prevent a user from changing locations and properties of fields without using relevant JavaScript actions.

3. Typing into a multi-row field covering a part of a page (or a whole page) has disadvantages over typing into single-cell fields, or typing into a single row of multiple cells, or typing into a flat space. In general, the larger the multi-raw space -- the more difficult to place a text in the best position for each cell. For a relatively small field, it is usually possible to find an acceptable text position with relevant JavaScript actions added by a form creator.* Despite these disadvantages, a form with a multi-row field covering a part of a page (or a whole page) is a preferable option over a non-fillable form.

For more information, download our full article.

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