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Working with PDF files

Edit your PDF

PDF templates can be edited in:

The free Documate PDF editor will meet most people's needs. It will allow you to:

  1. add text, checkbox, and digital signature fields
  2. easily rename fields
  3. edit existing field properties

Documate has a page that talks about its PDF editor.

Adobe Acrobat can still be helpful. The most important feature it has that Documate lacks is the ability to automatically recognize blank spaces and turn them into fields. You may decide to use a trial version of Adobe Acrobat for this feature, which is only needed at the beginning of your project.

Watch a 2 minute video segment on how to edit a PDF with Documate's editor.

Use limited field types

Use only these field types in your PDF document:

  • text fields
  • checkboxes
  • signature fields

Do not use:

  • radio buttons
  • drop-down menus

Use auto-expanding text fields for name fields

It's important to use the right kind of text field for different kinds of fields. On occasion people may have very long names, and it isn't appropriate to send someone's name to an addendum. One good solution for variable length fields that cannot be sent to an addendum is to use the Adobe Acrobat font size "Auto". When you use "auto" sized text, use the height of the field to make sure that the text does not exceed 12 pts. Otherwise the completed document can look very odd.

For multi-line text boxes, make sure that you turn off "scroll long text" and turn on "multi-line".

Use the Assembly Line's standard field labels for PDF templates

Use the specific names for labels for full compatibility with the Assembly Line framework.

Delete extra pages

If you have a Google, Adobe, Facebook, or Apple account, or if you're willing to make a new account, Adobe will let you delete PDF pages for free online. All your fields will be left alone. The documents will be saved in your account.

Adobe Live Cycle

If the form was created in Adobe Live Cycle, you will not be able to add form fields that are compatible with Docassemble. A simple workaround is to print the file to PDF. There is a built-in PDF printer in Chrome and in Windows 10, and one also comes with Mac OS X and with Microsoft Office.

Corrupted or locked PDFs

If you run into a problem with the PDF, the PDF might be corrupted in some way. This happens infrequently but often enough to be troublesome.

Two methods you might try:

  1. Run the PDF through Documate's PDF unlocker. This can fix some PDF issues and is quick and easy.
  2. Try the QPDF tool, a command line tool that can fix more broken PDFs.