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I have one of those really annoying PDF's that has spaces that when printed create a form to fill out by hand, but the author has not actually made it a "PDF form".

I was wondering if there was any package that would help me fill out the form anyway. I know that just about any PDF editor will allow me to type text onto a form, but I'm looking for something that specifically will help me with the following two issues:

  • Aligning multiple form fields vertically (left edge, e.g.)
  • Helping me get all of the text to be the same distance from the "line" at the bottom of the form field.

(also, if you know of webapps that would help with this, I will accept those answers as well.)

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So I know it's off topic for this site, but I just wanted to put in a note that I ended up using Acrobat on a Mac, to hand-draw in the form fields, then just used any old PDF reader to fill out the form. I couldn't find any of the Linux editors to help me do that quickly and easily. –  brooks94 Oct 8 '12 at 19:53

3 Answers 3

I advise you to check all available PDF creators/editors for Linux:

Creators

  1. OpenOffice.org: an open source office suite with built-in PDF creation.
  2. LibreOffice.org: an open source office suite with built-in PDF creation.
  3. Xournal: an open source program that creates PDFs.
  4. Inkscape vector drawing program that imports and exports PDF files.
  5. Scribus: an Open Source program for professional page layout.

Editors

  1. PDFedit: an open source program for viewing or editing the internal structures of PDF documents
  2. PDF Studio: proprietary software for viewing and editing PDF documents
  3. Pdftk: can merge, split, en-/decrypt, watermark/stamp and manipulate PDF files

and choose the one that fits into your problem

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+1 'Xournal' is the only app I've found that will let you type on top of a multipage PDF. –  virtualxtc Aug 4 at 16:47
  1. install acroread. please follow this link. http://www.techheadz.co.uk/222.html
  2. open the file using acroread and if there is any form, you'll automatically get a typewriter option

P.S. Please excuse me for not posting an opensource solution, but this was really helpful.

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From your question I understand that you need to do it frequently or multiple times. I see the following solutions:

(EDIT) Another solution: use Xournal. Xournal allows you to annotate a PDF and creates a gzipped XML file with these annotations. You can edit or process that file at will, and then use Xournal to create a composite PDF that contains both the original file and the annotations. This is probably the easiest solution.

  1. Edit the PDF document in a PDF editor of your choice and insert the form fields yourself (they can be transparent, so that you will not change the looks of the form).

  2. Write a program that modifies the PDF -- this would be suitable for filling out a large number of forms. Many programming languages have libraries that can directly manipulate PDF files. This requires knowledge of PDF and programming, however.

  3. Another solution for generating the forms in a batch-like manner, one that seems complex, but might actually be quite simple. Use the pdftops program to convert pdf to postscript. A postscript file is simple text, and postscript is easy to learn. In other words, you can manipulate PS files with any script that can just insert a few commands at the end of the file.

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