Filling Out Non-Interactive PDF Forms

If you’ve ever faced the frustration of finding a form online that you need to fill out, only to have to print it, fill it out by hand, then scan it back into your computer and email it, you’ll appreciate these tips on how to fill out a non-interactive PDF forms.

But wait? What do we mean by non-interactive? Let’s back up.

Interactive PDF Forms vs. Non-Interactive PDF Forms

There are two kinds of PDF form files. One is a PDF file with fillable fields, which lets you fill out the form directly simply by clicking into the fields. You basically point your cursor and type. You don’t need to use any other features. Easy-peasy. This is called an Interactive PDF Form.

The other kind of form is a plain PDF file with lines and text. No fields are present. It’s basically the same as any PDF document, except that it looks like a form. This is called a non-interactive PDF form. So can you fill it out? Yes! You just use the Typewriter feature in Foxit PhantomPDF or Foxit Reader.  Here’s how.

Filling Out Non-Interactive PDF Forms with the Typewriter

You’ll know you’re working with a non-interactive PDF form if you place the pointer over a form field and the basic pointer icon doesn’t change.  To use the Typewriter feature to fill out the form, choose the COMMENT ribbon > Typewriter Tool.  Then it’s merely a matter of placing your cursor anywhere a form field appears and typing your text into the form. In essence, you’re inserting text into the document as you would with any other PDF file.  To finish typing, click anywhere outside the text you’ve inputted. Then make sure to save or print a copy of the completed form.

For a Perfect Finish, Make Sure to Spell Check Your Form

You can even spell-check the entries if your security settings allow it and if you’ve installed the Spell Checker component. You’ll know if you have because, when you use typewriter to insert text, the tool will look for any spelling errors and highlight them with squiggly lines.

To correct any spelling mistakes, right click on the misspelled words and you’ll see a list of suggested words. Choose one of the suggested words to correct your input or ignore the squiggly line.

Of course, rather than using this streamlined way to fill out non-interactive PDF forms, you can always go back to the old-fashioned method of printing the form out (aka, using precious paper resources) and filling it out by hand (aka, like your great-great grandparents used to do). But with the Typewriter tool to guide your PDF form completion, why would you want to?

To start filling out non-interactive forms, Download the free Foxit Reader or PhantomPDF now.

Note that the Spell Checker component has been integrated into Foxit PhantomPDF and Foxit Reader, however, you may need to manually install updates by going to Check for Updates in the Help menu.

13 thoughts on “Filling Out Non-Interactive PDF Forms

  1. Dot Walsh

    The printout of the filled-in form shows little boxed numbers next to each entry. These boxes do not show on the computer screen, only when the document is printed. Please say how to get rid of the boxes on the printout. Thank you.

  2. Pingback: How To Fill In A Non-interactive Pdf | Information

  3. Christoph Castan

    Hello dear devs,
    another greatly appreciated feature in this matter would be to speed up text markup and entry.
    It would be awesome if there was a small “quick-menu” automatically popping up after you selected some characters (like Word or the Reader app from Microsoft) offering just basic features like high-lighting, underlining or outstriking.
    Regarding text input I’d love to see “Quick-enter text here” (or similar) directly in the context menu instead of having to fiddle with ribbon etc (or maybe shortcuts for typewriter, text selection and hand tool).

    Besides the great suggestion of auto-creating input fields I’d really love to see those enhancements 🙂

    Thank you very much for all your effort, keep up the great work you do!

    1. Adam

      A product more than a decade ago automatically recognized a non-interactive PDF and turned it into one by simply clicking the space value. Where is that feature? Why can’t that be integrated into a pro version?

  4. Christiaan Bosch

    Could the amazing developers there at foxit make the typewriter tool detect that the document has blocks that demand one character per block, and change the character spacing to only put one character in each block?

    And if the blocks form consecutive lines, could the tool change the line spacing so going to the next line starts filling in the next line’s blocks?

    It would save ages of time over typing spaces, fiddling with character spacing and line spacing.

    Maybe it would be necessary to make the tool change to a completely different “block fill” mode.

    And, often the document creators didn’t guess the amount of characters required properly. In that case, I’d love the tool to try and keep text that overflows the right of the field very small, like humans would do trying to squish the remaining text in before the end of the page.

    Wouldn’t it be nice if the world were chocolate…

    1. FOXITBLOG Post author

      When printing out the document within Foxit Reader, please make sure “Document and markups” is selected under the “Print What” section of the Print Window. This will print out the document along with any notes you added. For an alternative, please go to Comment – Manage Comments – Summarize comments to create comment summary first. And then you could print the file with text of notes.


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