Editing Fillable PDF Files

We recommend using the latest version of Adobe Reader for editing PDF files. Other programs may cause problems such as displaying fonts incorrectly or corrupting the form fields. If you are on a Mac, you should avoid even opening PDF files in Preview.

Some of our PDF files include editable form fields (e.g., award certificates and recipe cards). This article will show you how to edit the fields.


Please note that editable PDFs only allow limited changes. The content of the text can be edited, but the following can't:

  • The font
  • The color of the text
  • The position of the text. This includes placing text on multiple lines.
  • The size of the text. The exception to this is that text will shrink as text reaches the edge of a form field.

Please also be aware that only editable form fields can be edited. Some text is part of the design and won't be editable.

Software Recommendations

We recommend using the latest desktop version of Adobe Reader for editing all fillable PDF files. Download Adobe reader at https://get.adobe.com/reader/. Make sure you uncheck the box under the "Optional offer" to prevent Adobe from installing extra software.

We recommend not using other programs because they may cause unwanted results. For example, Apple's Preview is known to have significant issues with corrupting forms in editable PDF files. If your PDF file is damaged by other programs, download the file again and use Adobe Reader.

We haven't tested editing PDF files using PDF viewing apps on mobile devices (phones and tablets). We recommend not using a mobile device for editing these files.

We are unable to offer any support if you choose to use a program other than Adobe Reader.

Editing a Fillable PDF

Follow these steps to change text in a form field:

  1. Open the PDF file in Adobe Reader.
  2. Click inside a highlighted form field. Editable fields are indicated by a light blue background. If you don't see highlighting, enable it by opening the Preferences dialog (use CTRL + K or select Preferences under the Edit menu). Select Forms from the menu on the left and make sure the box labeled "Show border over color for fields" is checked.
  3. Type your text into the field. Note that the text will automatically shrink if your text reaches the edge of the form.
  4. Repeat these steps for each form field. Use the TAB key to move to the next form field or select it with your mouse.

Miscellaneous Tips

If you need to create multiple versions of the printable (e.g., using the same award for a whole classroom, but changing names or other details for each student), you may want to copy the PDF file and save a separate file for each version of the text. This will make it easier to make changes later, print additional copies, etc.

If you want smaller text than the default font size, it's possible to add spaces so the text shrinks as the text reaches the edge of the form. Note that this a very limited way of reducing the font size, but may not be flexible enough for most situations. For example, it may make it more difficult to center text.

Using Printables Without Editing the Forms

It is possible to print editable PDFs without text in the form fields. This will allow you to write in the fields by hand. Just delete the text in each form field by selecting the text and hitting the Delete key on your keyboard. You should then be able to print a blank version of the printable. Note that this will not affect text that isn't editable such as labels. That text will still print.