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Helpful Hints & Tips for Navigating Screen-Fillable PDF Forms

The fillable forms available on this web site have been created using Adobe Acrobat 5.0 (or later) software.  The majority of the forms make use of the most fundamental form fields, such as simple text fields, radio buttons and check boxes. 

Once again, please remember:

  • We recommend that you work offline within the Adobe Acrobat Reader or other Adobe Acrobat software products to (a) prevent the loss of data through inadvertent use of your browser while completing the form and (b) to minimize the confusion of layered menu bars that occurs when working online within your browser frame.
  • Acrobat Reader does not allow you to save a completed, or a partially completed form to a disk on your computer. If you wish to save a completed form, or retain your work on a partially completed form, you must purchase additional software - Adobe Acrobat 5.0 (or later) or Adobe Acrobat Approval 5.0.
  • You are responsible for the completeness and accuracy of all data provided on your form.


1. Navigating a PDF form

To begin filling in a “screen-fillable form:

  •  Select the hand tool from the Acrobat toolbar.

  •  Position the hand pointer inside a form field and click. The I-beam pointer allows you to type text. The arrow pointer allows you to select a field, a check box, a radio button, or an item from a list

  • To accept the field change and go to the next field, press [TAB] or use your mouse to click on the next form field.

  •  To accept the field change and go to the previous field, press [Shift] + [TAB] or use your mouse to click on the previous form field.

2. Magnifying the form to make it easier to read and fill-in.

You can increase the magnification of the form to make it easier to view, read and complete. Changing the magnification on the screen will not change the size of the printed form itself.

  • On the tool bar, there is a box that contains the number: 100%.  This box can be changed with user-supplied “zoom” levels: 150%, 200%, 300% etc.  After the new value is entered into the field,  hit the “enter” to increase (or decrease) the magnification.
  • In addition, there is both a “zoom-in” (+) and “zoom-out” (-) button on either side of the magnification box.   Clicking either of these buttons increases or decreases the magnification in preset increments.

3. Moving from one form field to the next

Most forms have an applied Tab Order sequence so that forms can navigated and completed in a logical order.

  • Use the “TAB” key to move from one field to the next.  This procedure will also help you avoid accidentally skipping over any form fields.

4. Text boxes (single line or multi-line)

Text boxes are straightforward fillable fields where you can type text or numeric data onto the form.

  • Single-line text boxes allow you to enter text on a single line within the specific confines of the box. The text begins and ends within the box provided.
  • Multi-line text boxes allow you to enter multiple lines of text depending on the size of the box or space provided. Generally, the text will “wrap” (as with most word processors) within multi-line text boxes. You may also hit ”ENTER” at the end of a line to move to the next line of text.
  • To begin entering text, click on the Hand tool, place the blinking “I-beam” within the text box and begin typing.

5. Form Fields with a limited number of characters

Some form fields have been configured to accept a maximum number of characters.  Generally such form fields tend to be phone numbers (area code, prefix, suffix), dates, social security numbers or similar items.

  • Where these multi-part fields may be separated by a hyphen or a dash, use the “TAB” key to move to the next part of the form field.

6. Check Boxes

Check boxes are used on forms for lists of items in which more than one item can be selected.  They may also be used for items like “Check here if you wish to add an additional page of information, etc.”

  • Place your cursor over the box in which you wish to place a check.
  • When the cursor changes from the hand tool to the hand pointer, click your left mouse button to check the box.
  • To undo the selection, left-click your mouse button again and the check mark will be removed.

7. Radio Buttons

“Radio buttons” are generally used on forms to ensure that a user selects only one item from a list of two or more choices.  Radio buttons usually appear as small boxes and are used for simple Yes/No selections (the answer must be either “Yes” or “No”) as well as for more comprehensive lists of items.  Radio button fields, when filled, generally appear in the form of a small solid circle or check mark. 

  • Place your cursor over the box in which you wish to place a check.
  • When the cursor changes from the hand tool to the hand pointer, click your left mouse button to select (check) the box.
  • To undo the selection, left-click your mouse button and the check mark will be removed.

8. Signatures

At this time, all signatures, where required, must be hand written on the form.  Signature blocks are not fillable via your keyboard.  These forms cannot be submitted electronically.

9. Printing Forms

  • Once you have completed filling in a form, select [File] and then [Print] from the Acrobat menu toolbar or click the small printer icon on the toolbar. This brings you to the print dialog box which you may configure as necessary.
  • Please note: Before printing your form - use your mouse to select an area of the form that is not inside a form field or hit the [TAB] key after completing the entry of your last box. If a form field is active (e.g. contains the blinking bar) the contents of that block will not print.
  • Please note: If the fillable form is displayed within your browser’s window, be sure to use the printer button on the Acrobat toolbar menu to print the form instead of your web browser’s print function. 
  • Since form data cannot be saved when using Adobe Reader, we strongly recommend that you print two copies of the filled-out form: (1) one copy to  and (2) one copy for your personal records. (Alternately, you may make a photocopy of the completed form for your records or save an electronic copy on your own computer if you are using Adobe Acrobat 5.0 (or later) or Adobe Acrobat Approval 5.0).

10. Submitting Forms

Submit the form to the administering agency as you normally would - via regular mail or in person.  Most forms include instructions about where to send the completed paper copy.

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