Adding Interactive Form Controls to a Tagged Document in Adobe Acrobat Pro

Last modified 8/18/2023

If the auto detection tool missed a form control or you want to add form controls manually to your PDF document, open the Prepare Form Tool.

Form control options:

  • Text Field: enables people to type their own answer into field
  • Check Box: enables selection of one or more items
  • Radio Button: enables selection of one item from mutually exclusive items
  • List Box: enables selection from list of choices
  • Drop Down: enables selection from a drop down list of choices.
  • Add Button: adds a button which can be used to set an action like "Print" or "Clear Form"
  • Image Field: Enables user to browse to select an image to add to the form
  • Date Field: Adds a calendar picker to form field
  • Digital Signature: Adds a digital signature field.
  • Barcode: Encodes the data people type into this field 

Manually Adding Form Fields

Step 1. Select Form Control

Select the form control then drag and drop it over the space provided to fill out the form field.

Screenshot of Acrobat Pro with Form Field Toll aligned over the document.

Step 2. Add a Name

Type the label of the form field into the Field Name text box. This text needs to be unique to all other form fields. So if there are multiple "first name" fields in a form, each should have a unique Field Name. Select the All Properties link to open the Properties Dialog Box. 

Step 3. Add the Tool Tip

Enter helpful text into the Text box marked tooltip. The tooltip is what is presented to assisitve technology users so make sure to avoid using acronyms in tooltips (e.g. the "MI" form field has a tooltip of "Middle Initial"). If multiple form fields have the same field label, make sure the tooltip clearly identifies the form field. For example, if multiple form fields have the label of first name tooltips can include who's name should be entered into the field such as "student first name," "professor first name," or "parent first name" to help separate the form fields from each other. Repeat steps 1-3 for each form control in the document.

Screenshot of Text Field Properties with Field Name listed as MI, but the toolTip listed as Middle Initial.

Note: You can access a form control's Properties dialog box in multiple ways:

  • Double click on the form control
  • Right click on the form control in the document then select Properties from the list of options.
  • Right click on the form control in the Prepare Form Pane then select Properties from the list of options.

Make sure all your form controls are re-sized, in the proper location, and check to make sure the tab order is logical before moving on to the next steps.

Tagging Form Fields in the Accessibility Tags Tree

Step 1. Find Element

When placing a form field into a tagged document the form field is not present in the Tags Pane this can cause an issue with assistive technology announcing the form fields' tooltips incorrectly or not at all. To place the form field with all its information in the Tags Pane, open the Tag Pane and place your cursor on the word "Tags" and right click to open the list of options. From the list of options, select "Find" to open Find Element dialog box.

Screenshot of Tags Pane with Tags selected and Find selected from list of options.

Step 2. Find Unmarked Annotations

In the Find Element dialog box, choose Unmarked Annotations from the Find list of options. Select the Search Document radio button then choose the Find button.

Screenshot of Find Element dialog box with Unmarked annotations selected and Search Document radio button selected.

Step 3. Tag Element

Notice the Type section has changed from "None" to the field name of a form control you added to your document. The form control will have a blue visual focus indicator around it. Other unmarked annotations may be in your document, too. Choose Tag Element button.

Screenshot of document with Find Element dialog box open with type changed to Middle Initial1 and the Middle Initial Form control is highlighted.

Step 4. Add New Tag

In the New Tag dialog box, select "Form" from the Type list of options. Capitalization is important, Form needs a capital F in this case. It is optional to add a title. Adding a title can help tell the form controls apart in the Tags Pane. Select Find Next Button. Tag each form control so it appears in the Tags Pane (typically the bottom).

Step 5. Cut and Paste Form Fields

Order is important when adding the form field to the Tags Pane. Select the parent form control (i.e. <Form>), right click then choose Cut option. This will gray out the <Form> field scroll up to the <P> tag in the Tags Pane with the associated form label text. Select the chevron symbol to the left of the <P> tag to open its child element. This should have a box icon with the Form Control Label Text. Select the child element, right click, then choose Paste from list of options. Move all the <Form> tags to the appropriate <P> tags.

Make sure each <Form> tag has an OBJR tag as a child. The OBJR contains all the reference information and tooltip. If the form control is moved after this step the OBJR will disappear and the whole form control must be replaced with a new one and a new unmarked annotation tagged.

Screenshot of document with Find Element dialog box open with type changed to Middle Initial1 and the Middle Initial Form control is highlighted.

Step 6. Save

Once all the form control are in place. Save your form.

More Resources