Need to share a PDF form? Here’s how to make a PDF fillable

Want to create a PDF file that anyone can fill in? In this guide, we’ll show you how to create a fillable PDF file for free.

Apps like Microsoft Word can in fact convert PDF files into an editable format, but they often ruin the formatting in the process, plus Microsoft Word isn’t exactly a free tool. Even if you’re not the one filling the form yourself, you might feel bad for not making it more convenient for other people to fill in your form. Thankfully, there are ways you can make your PDF file fillable for anyone who opens it.

The most official way to do this is, of course, using Adobe Acrobat DC (the paid version) on your desktop or laptop. But you also can use a free online tool called PDFescape. The online version is ad-supported, but you can use it for free. There are some limitations though — files must be less than 10MB and have less than 100 pages. You can create a fillable PDF from scratch, or you can turn an existing PDF into a fillable form. We’ll cover both methods here. We’re going to use a simple form just to show you the possibilities.

How to make a PDF fillable

  1. Go to and choose Free Online then choose Create a new PDF Document.
  2. Choose the number of pages (up to 25) and the size of the page, then click Create.
  3. Start by adding the text you want to your form. Click the Insert button and then the Text button in the top left corner to add text. You can choose from a handful of fonts, font sizes, and other formatting options.
  4. Now, we have to add the form fields we want to use to make the PDF fillable You can use the Text form field type. This allows users to enter a single line of text.
  5. Click Insert, choose the default type Text, and click Select. Then draw the field where you want to place it. You can simply click anywhere to create a field there with default dimensions and resize it afterward, too.
  6. You also can add a dropdown menu: Start by clicking Form Field, then choose the Dropdown type and click Select. Click where you want to place the field and resize it to your need.
  7. If you want to add a checkbox, Click Form Field, choose the Checkbox type, then click Select. Place as many checkboxes as you see fit. Much like radio buttons, checkboxes don’t have labels attached, so you’re going to have to add some text manually.
  8. When ready to save, use the sidebar on the left and click the Save & Download PDF… button (the green square with two arrows). You’ll now have a proper PDF file. You can open it in any PDF reader, and it will be fillable. Here’s what it looks like filled in
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How to fill an existing PDF

While the steps above are definitely a valid way to create a fillable PDF file, it’s not always what you want. What if you received a PDF file and you want to turn that into a fillable form? Or maybe you used a more powerful tool like Microsoft Word to format the document, but now you want it to be fillable? PDFescape can do that too. Here’s a quick showcase of how it works:

  1. Open again, but this time, choose Upload PDF to PDFescape.
  2. Your PDF will open, and now you have all the same tools as before to make it fillable.
  3. Add all the fields you need to add here with the steps we mentioned above. You can still add more text, too, which is important if you want to use radio buttons or checkboxes.
  4. There’s no field for the signature, but you shouldn’t need one. Most PDF readers let you annotate the file, which can be used for a signature if necessary. For devices like tablets and convertibles, users can even use a digital pen to write their signature.

Creating fillable forms like this makes it much easier to get answers to forms, since the person filling them in doesn’t need any special software to do it. It may not work with very basic PDF viewers – like the pre-installed software on a phone – but if it allows annotations, you should be good. We filled these forms with the PDF viewer in Microsoft’s Edge browser.

This is one example of a tool that can create fillable PDFs, but there are others. LibreOffice is another free tool that lets you do this, for example. We went with PDFescape because it’s simpler and doesn’t require any kind of installation. We hope you found this guide useful. Be sure to let us know if there’s anything else we should add.

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