How can I make a document I can tab through?
April 20, 2016 12:54 PM   Subscribe

I have a lease with blank spots to be filled in with new tenant's information. Previously we have had this document as a PDF, and entered the new information by clicking on the blank spots and typing. This is tedious. How can I make a version of this document that has fields that we can tab through?

It is currently in Word. Open to trying different software if that's what it takes.

I swear I used to have a way to do this in Word many years ago!

We don't want to do it as a mail merge type document where you enter it all into a spreadsheet and then it puts it in. The person who will be doing the actual entry thinks this is too complicated and I agree that it might be easier to spot mistakes when typing it into the actual lease.
posted by Melsky to Technology (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I'm surprised that your PDF didn't support tabbing through it.

Give Acrobat DC a try. Looks like you get a 30 day free trial.
posted by The Deej at 1:02 PM on April 20, 2016

What happens in your PDF when you click on the first field, enter some data, and then hit tab?
posted by RustyBrooks at 1:11 PM on April 20, 2016

Some versions of Acrobat (but not Reader) have form-editing tools where you can set field order, etc., so that tabbing through works. (Once you create such a form, Reader can display it and fill in the blanks.) Dunno about Acrobat DC.

MSWord also has a form mode where you edit everything the way you want it, then mark places that need to be filled in. When you "enable protection" on the document, only the fill-in spots can be changed, and you can go from one to the next by tabbing.
posted by spacewrench at 1:19 PM on April 20, 2016 [1 favorite]

You can make forms in Word.
posted by katrielalex at 1:21 PM on April 20, 2016

What you want to do is to set the tab order in the document but this requires Adobe Acrobat or similiar PDF editing software.

Personally, I would convert the document to a HTML page. This way, the form will work on all platforms and isn't dependant on third party software like Word or Acrobat.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 1:22 PM on April 20, 2016

Word forms do have to be .docx, not .doc, so they don't work in super old versions of Word. But I just checked one I made for work and tabbed through the fields no problem.
posted by misskaz at 1:23 PM on April 20, 2016

A warning with Adobe Acrobat form-making: the form boxes were incredibly tedious to get into the proper tab order. Not sure if they've fixed it in recent versions, but it had to be manual and often small changes to the form boxes would mess everything up. I'm having flashbacks....
posted by Baethan at 2:27 PM on April 20, 2016

You use fields and variables.
posted by yclipse at 3:16 PM on April 20, 2016

Word forms can be created with two different methods: content controls or legacy form fields. They have totally distinct items (check boxes, text fields, dropdowns). Content controls only work in the .docx file type, and legacy form fields work in .doc and have more compatibility. You'll see both options on the Developer ribbon in Word (the legacy fields are accessible by clicking the suitcase button). If you don't have the Developer ribbon visible, enable it in options under Customize Ribbon. I use Word forms a lot at work, and prefer creating forms with the legacy form fields, although they have at least a couple potential drawbacks: smaller limits for drop-down box items, and you can't actually use the form fields until you "restrict editing" of the document.

I also deal with some PDF forms at work. I find the Word forms more stable and quicker to tab through and fill out, but not everyone has Word.
posted by dta at 11:17 AM on April 21, 2016

« Older Why Some Online Radio Streaming Doesn't Seem to...   |   This sounds dumb but I don't know what to do in... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.