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Apply a form fillable "layer" on PDF files

New Here ,
Mar 16, 2021 Mar 16, 2021

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Hi everyone,

I've PDF files form with some fields already filled (from scan).

I would like create the rest of the form with fillable fields.
I know how to create a fillable form with Acrobat but is it possible to create a "template" to apply the fillable form on each PDF file without recreate on each PDF the fillable form ?

I don't know if my explanation is clear but don't hesitate to ask me questions.

Thank you for your help.

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Create PDFs , PDF forms

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correct answers 1 Correct answer

Community Expert , Mar 16, 2021 Mar 16, 2021

If the fields appear in the same place on each form then you can use the Replace Pages command to insert the pages from the new file over the ones in the old one. This will keep all fields in tact and you could then save the new file under a different name.

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Community Expert ,
Mar 16, 2021 Mar 16, 2021

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If the fields appear in the same place on each form then you can use the Replace Pages command to insert the pages from the new file over the ones in the old one. This will keep all fields in tact and you could then save the new file under a different name.

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New Here ,
Mar 18, 2021 Mar 18, 2021

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Thank you very much ! 

Best regards !

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Explorer ,
Aug 17, 2022 Aug 17, 2022

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I am interested in a solution to this as well.

 

What I think Geo5C4F wants to do is combine a scanned page and a template, with certain assumptions: (1) the scanned page is one of many scanned pages but each scanned page has form fields (text fields, checkboxes, radio buttons) that are blank, (2) the locations of the form fields do not change from scanned page to scanned page, and (3) the user has created a template PDF that has all the form fields in the right locations on an otherwise blank page.  The idea is to overlay the template onto one scanned document, allow the user or someone else later to edit those form fields, and then perhaps flatten the layers, print it, etc.  Then, for the next scanned document, the user overlays the same template over that new scanned document as well.  This avoids the need to manually add the exact same form fields in the exact same place for each scanned document.

 

Using "Replace Pages", the template PDF page can replace the scanned page, but the other content that was on the scanned page is no longer there.  This is the same as just opening the template PDF by itself.

 

I created a template PDF (a separate PDF file that is one blank page with some form fields - text, checkboxes, radio buttons, etc.) and the form behaves correctly on its own.  I can open a scanned document and then import the template PDF as a new layer, and then I can see the content of the scanned document and on top of that I can see the checkboxes/radio buttons of the template PDF.  I don't see the text form fields because those are empty, but if I typed text into those fields in the template PDF, I would see that text.  The problem is that I cannot interact with those checkboxes or text fields.

What I would like to do is open a one-page scanned document, import the template PDF as a layer that overlays the content  of the scanned document, click on checkboxes of the template, enter text in the text fields of the template, and then flatten/print/save.

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Explorer ,
Aug 27, 2022 Aug 27, 2022

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I am attempting to exactly that.  I get the same result.  The template is overlaid on the scanned document and I can see the scanned document beneath the form fields and checkboxes, but I cannot interact with the form fields or checkboxes.

 

Using Acrobat DC.

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Community Expert ,
Aug 27, 2022 Aug 27, 2022

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Did you use the Replace Pages command?

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Explorer ,
Aug 27, 2022 Aug 27, 2022

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Yes.  The scanned page PDF and the template overlay page PDF are both one-page PDFs.  If I open the scanned page PDF and then use the replace pages command to replace the scanned page PDF with the overlay page PDF, the scanned page PDF goes away and I have the overlay page PDF.  What we're trying to do is have the overlay page overlaid on top of the scanned page, so that we can see the content of the scanned page underneath the form fields of the overlay page so that we can fill in the form fields that came from the overlay page PDF on top of the scanned content from the scanned page.

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Explorer ,
Aug 27, 2022 Aug 27, 2022

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Based on try67's suggestion, here is what worked for me:

I have paper forms that I receive that are partially filled out with information that changes from form to form, day to day.  So this one-page scanned page has fixed text that doesn't change from form to form, has some text that changes from form to form (because those parts of the form are filled in before it gets to me), and has some spaces for me to fill in and boxes for me to check.  The places for me to fill in and check are always in the same place on every form.

 

Starting with one of the scanned forms, I asked Acrobat DC to "Prepare Form" and Acrobat generated a set of form fields (text boxes, check boxes, etc.).  I cleaned that up, moving fields a little, giving them meaningful names, deleting things that Acrobat thought were for me to fill in but aren't, etc.  Acrobat can't tell whether three boxes are to be check boxes (e.g., each can be checked or unchecked) or a radio button set (e.g., only one can be checked at a time) so those were manually specified.

 

Once I had the form fields where I wanted them and cleaned up the form, I closed the "Prepare Form" ribbon and opened the "Edit PDF" ribbon.  Acrobat had parsed the content of my scanned form into various objects (text boxes, lines, etc.) and I just deleted all of those objects until all I had was a blank page with the form fields that I put there in the Prepare Form steps.  I saved that as a new file I called "form_overlay.PDF".

 

Now, each time I have to process a scanned form that comes as a PDF, I first open the form_overlay.PDF.  Then I select "Add Background" from the "Edit PDF" menu and under source, I select the "File" radio button and select the scanned form to be my background.  Since nothing on the scanned form itself is to be edited (all the edits are to the form overlay), that works.  Once the form fields are edited, I can just save that document.  I guess I could flatten the layers so that the background and the form fields are one layer, but I don't know why that would be needed.

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