How to Create a Fillable PDF Without Adobe

By Cooper Temple

Updated October 03, 2017

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Using Adobe Acrobat isn't the only way to edit a Portable Document Format, or PDF, file. If you have a recent version of Microsoft Word, you can use it to edit and save PDF files. If you have an older computer, or don't have Word, there are several free programs you can use available online.

Microsoft Word

Launch Microsoft Word 2010 or higher and open your existing Word document that you would like to turn into a fillable PDF form. If you do not have an existing document then click "File" and then "New" to create a new form.

Show the developer tap in Word by clicking "File" then "Options" then "Customize Ribbon." Click the "Developer" tab to enable it and then click "OK."

Type in the text for your form and for each item that you would like users to enter text add a text control. Click the "Developer" tab and then click "Rich Text Content Control" or "Plain Text Content Control" insert the control. Repeat as necessary for any other fillable fields you would like to add to the document.

Add a combo box or drop-down list for any field that should be multiple choice. Click the "Developer" tab and then click "Combo Box Content Control" or "Drop-Down List Content Control" to add it to your form. Click the "Properties" option under the "Developer" tab to customize the options for your combo box or drop-down.

Add a check box for any field on your form that should be checked. Click the "Check Box Content Control" option under the "Developer" tab to add the check box next to a text field.

Save your Word document as a PDF by clicking "File" and then "Save" and then selecting "PDF." A fillable PDF form is then saved to your Documents folder.

Free PDF Programs

Select a free PDF writing or editing program like PDFescape, Nitro PDF Reader or Sejda's Online PDF Editor (see Resources). Follow the instructions on the website to download and install the program. In the case of Sejda's Online PDF Editor, you don't have to download anything, but upload your PDF to the web server instead and then edit it online.

Launch the app, and open the PDF document from which you want to create a fillable form. Click one of the available forms tools options on the toolbar, such as a text box. Click once in an area of the PDF document that you want to make fillable, and drag the tool to a desired size while holding down the mouse button.

Adjust the field properties, if necessary. Right-click once inside the form field that you added, and select the “Properties” option. This action will launch a separate pop-up window. Use the available categories to adjust field properties, such as font, color and field name. Click the “OK” button to save any changes.