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How to Make a Fillable PDF in Word

How to Make a Fillable PDF in Word

In the age of digitization, creating documents that can be edited by recipients is vital. One such utility is a fillable PDF. While there are many tools available for this purpose, you’d be surprised to know that you can learn how to make a fillable PDF in Word without any third-party software. This guide will walk you through the process of making a fillable PDF in Word, discuss the reasons for using fillable forms, and even give you a brief overview of creating one using Google Docs.

How to Make a Fillable PDF in Word

Microsoft Word, a cornerstone of document creation, offers functionalities beyond mere text editing. One of its lesser-known but highly useful features is the ability to create fillable PDFs. If you’re keen on understanding how to make a fillable PDF in Word, here’s your step-by-step guide:

  1. Open Microsoft Word: Begin by launching Word and starting a new document.
  2. Access the Developer Tab: By default, the Developer tab might not be visible. To display it, go to File > Options > Customize Ribbon. Then, under the right panel, check the box next to ‘Developer’.
  3. Lay Out Your Document: Before introducing fillable fields, make sure to type out any text that will remain static in your PDF, such as titles, instructions, or questions.
  4. Insert Form Controls: From the Developer tab, you’ll find a section labeled ‘Controls’. Here, you can add various form elements like text boxes, date pickers, checkboxes, drop-down lists, and more. To insert a control, simply click on its icon.
  5. Customize Form Fields: Each form control comes with its own set of properties. Right-click on a form control you’ve placed and choose ‘Properties’ to customize its settings. For example, for a dropdown list, you can specify the list of options available to the user.
  6. Protect and Save: Once your form is ready, protect it to prevent any unwanted edits. Click on ‘Restrict Editing’ in the Developer tab. Under the section labeled ‘Editing restrictions’, select ‘Filling in forms’. Lastly, click ‘Yes, Start Enforcing Protection’. Save your document as a PDF by going to File > Save As and choosing the PDF format.

Voila! You’ve now mastered how to make a fillable PDF in Word. This tool is especially handy for creating forms, questionnaires, or any other document where you need input from the recipient.

Reasons for Leveraging Fillable Forms

In an increasingly digital landscape, the use of fillable forms has seen exponential growth. They offer a blend of flexibility, efficiency, and precision which traditional paper forms often lack. If you’re contemplating whether to transition to or create fillable forms, here are compelling reasons to do so:

  1. Efficiency and Time-saving: Traditional paper forms demand manual data entry, which is not only time-consuming but also prone to human errors. Fillable forms streamline data collection, allowing for automatic data compilation and analysis, thus saving valuable time and reducing inaccuracies.
  2. Environmentally Friendly: The world is rapidly moving towards sustainable practices, and using fillable forms aligns with this shift. By reducing paper usage, not only do you cut costs but you also contribute to environmental preservation.
  3. Versatility and Customization: Digital forms are incredibly adaptable. They can be easily edited, customized, or updated without the need for reprinting or redistributing physical copies. This adaptability ensures your forms are always up-to-date.
  4. Global Reach and Accessibility: Digital forms can be accessed, filled, and submitted from any corner of the world, making them ideal for businesses and institutions with a global presence or audience. This universal accessibility also facilitates quicker responses.
  5. Enhanced User Experience: Fillable forms often come with features like dropdowns, checkboxes, and guidance tooltips which make them user-friendly. Additionally, users appreciate the convenience of filling out forms online, especially with the rise of mobile technology.
  6. Data Security: Unlike paper forms, which can be easily misplaced or accessed by unauthorized individuals, fillable forms offer advanced security options. Data can be encrypted, password protected, and stored securely in digital databases.
  7. Cost-effective: In the long run, leveraging fillable forms can be more cost-effective. There’s a reduction in costs associated with printing, distributing, and storing paper forms. Plus, the quick turnaround can lead to improved operational efficiency.
  8. Integration with Other Digital Tools: Fillable forms can be easily integrated with other software and digital tools. This means data can be automatically transferred to CRM systems, databases, or analytics tools, further simplifying data management.

In essence, the shift towards using fillable forms is not merely a trend but a logical evolution in the way we manage and process information. Whether for customer feedback, job applications, or academic surveys, the reasons for leveraging fillable forms are numerous and convincing.

How to Create a Fillable PDF in Google Docs

While Microsoft Word is an incredible tool for many, Google Docs is another popular platform preferred by numerous users, primarily due to its cloud-based features and easy sharing capabilities. If you’re a Google Docs enthusiast and wish to know how to create a fillable PDF without switching platforms, this guide is for you.

  1. Begin with Google Forms: While Google Docs itself doesn’t provide the direct functionality to create fillable PDFs, Google Forms does. Start by opening Google Forms (a sister application of Google Docs). Go to the Google Apps menu (the grid icon in the top right corner of your Google account page) and select ‘Forms’.
  2. Design Your Form:
    • Choose a template or start from scratch: Google Forms offers a variety of pre-made templates for surveys, feedback, registrations, and more. Select one that fits your need or create a new form.
    • Add Questions: Click on the ‘+’ button to add questions. You can select the type of answer you expect (short answer, paragraph, multiple choice, checkboxes, dropdown, etc.).
    • Customize Appearance: Customize the appearance of your form by clicking on the palette icon. You can change the color scheme, background, and more to align with your brand or preference.
  3. Convert Form Responses to a Google Doc: After receiving responses, you can easily export the data to Google Docs. Within Google Forms, go to ‘Responses’, click on the green sheets icon, and choose to create a new document or select an existing one. This will convert your collected responses into a well-organized Google Doc.
  4. Export as PDF:
    • Open the Google Doc containing the responses.
    • Click on ‘File’, hover over ‘Download’, and select ‘PDF Document’.
  5. For a Direct Fillable PDF:
    • While Google Forms is excellent for collecting data online, if you need an offline fillable PDF, you might need to use a tool like JotForm’s PDF Editor or similar third-party applications which allow converting online forms into fillable PDF forms.

Tips for Converting PDF into Editable Document

PDFs, known for their consistent formatting and widespread compatibility, are a staple in digital documentation. However, there are times when you might need to revert a PDF back to an editable format for modifications or repurposing. Here are some tried and tested tips to make this conversion smooth and efficient:

  1. Microsoft Word’s Built-in Feature:
    • With Word 2013 and later versions, converting a PDF into an editable Word document is a straightforward task.
    • Open Word, go to ‘File’, select ‘Open’, and choose the desired PDF.
    • Word will notify you that it’s going to make a copy of the PDF and convert its contents into a format it can display. After the process, you can edit the document as you would with any Word file.
  2. Adobe Acrobat:
    • If you have Adobe Acrobat, it provides a seamless way to convert PDFs into editable Word, Excel, or PowerPoint files.
    • Open the PDF in Acrobat, click on ‘File’, choose ‘Export To’, and select your desired editable format.
  3. Online Conversion Tools:
    • Several websites offer free conversion of PDFs to Word, Excel, or other formats. Platforms like SmallPDF, ILovePDF, and PDF2Go are user-friendly and do not require software installation.
    • However, be cautious about uploading sensitive or private information to online converters. Always check their privacy policy and terms of service.
  4. OCR (Optical Character Recognition) Software:
    • For scanned PDFs, regular conversion might not work as these documents are essentially images of text. OCR software can recognize and convert this text into an editable format.
    • Tools like Adobe Acrobat Pro, ABBYY FineReader, and OmniPage are popular OCR software options. Some online converters also offer OCR capabilities.
  5. Google Drive:
    • Google Drive, specifically Google Docs, can convert PDFs into editable documents.
    • Upload your PDF to Google Drive, right-click on the file, choose ‘Open with’, and then select ‘Google Docs’. The PDF will open in an editable format in Google Docs. Some formatting might require adjustments.
  6. Dedicated Conversion Software:
    • If you regularly need to convert PDFs, investing in dedicated software like Nitro PDF, Wondershare PDFElement, or Foxit PhantomPDF might be worthwhile. These offer a range of features beyond mere conversion, enhancing your document management capabilities.
  7. Maintain Formatting:
    • After converting a PDF to an editable document, always double-check the formatting. Conversions might not always be perfect, especially with complex layouts or graphics.
  8. Always Backup:
    • Before converting or making any changes, always keep a backup of the original PDF. This ensures that if anything goes wrong during conversion, your original data remains intact.

Converting a PDF into an editable document, given the myriad of tools available today, is more accessible than ever. Depending on the complexity of the document, frequency of conversion, and your preferred platform, there’s likely a solution that’s perfect for your needs.


In conclusion, understanding how to make a fillable PDF in Word offers a myriad of benefits, especially in a world that’s shifting rapidly towards paperless operations. Whether you’re a student, business professional, or just someone looking to digitize their workflow, this skill can significantly enhance efficiency. And now, not only do you know how to make a fillable PDF in Word, but you also know how to do it in Google Docs and convert it back to an editable format!

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