How to Create a Fillable PDF the Easy Way

CosmicGiant  •    —   10 min read

Looking to create an online fillable PDF? That is, a PDF where you take some content from your website, add it into a pre-formatted PDF, and are able to download or email the completed PDF document? We have the answer!

Fillable PDFs can be useful in all sorts of situations, including applications, contracts, and other legal documents. They’re perfect replacements for paper documents and paper forms. You can take in information from a WordPress form and then output all that data in a downloadable PDF file.

In this post, you’ll learn how to create an online fillable PDF with off-the-rack solutions – no coding or technical knowledge required.

We’ll be using WordPress here. WordPress is free software which powers over 37% of the internet, from blogs to the biggest websites in the world.

You’ll be able to create a front-end WordPress fillable pdf form like this one:

Front-end web form example

Then, when someone submits that form, you can automatically enter that data into PDF fillable fields and create a finished PDF document like this (while preserving the styling of your PDF):

Finished PDF document example

Ready to learn how to set up interactive forms? Let’s get started…

What You Need to Create a WordPress Fillable PDF

In order to create a WordPress fillable PDF, you’re going to need an existing WordPress site, and then two WordPress plugins. If you don’t already have WordPress, it’s fast and easy to get started. You’ll find information here. Then, here are the plugins you need:

You’ll use Gravity Forms to create the front-end web form that people interact with. Depending on your needs, you can either make this form public or you can restrict it so that only authorized users have access.

Then, once someone submits that form, the Fillable PDFs plugin will work on the backend to input that form data into the associated fields in your fillable PDF file.

You’ll be able to do this without any HTML, PHP, CSS, JavaScript, etc.

And the neat thing is that your WordPress fillable PDF file will retain its original design. So you can create branded, stylish fillable PDFs while still being able to dynamically fill them with information from WordPress.

You can also use Gravity Forms’ many extensions and still include that information in your fillable PDF. For example, if you use the Gravity Forms Signature add-on, you can include a person’s actual signature in your fillable PDF file, which is especially helpful if you’re looking to create contracts.

Next, let’s go through exactly how to set up Gravity Forms and Fillable PDFs to help you create a WordPress fillable PDF.

How to Create a WordPress Fillable PDF With Gravity Forms

Here’s your step-by-step guide to creating a WordPress fillable PDF…

1. Create Your Fillable PDF Template

At this point, you may or may not already have the WordPress fillable PDF document that you want to use with WordPress. If you do, you click here to jump straight to the next step.

If you don’t, this guide will explain how to create a fillable PDF document in some easy ways.

First, if you care about the styling and layout of your document, your best bet is to probably use Adobe Acrobat as it will give you the most flexibility. You can design your PDF using Acrobat’s many features and then create fillable PDF fields by following these instructions.

If you just need a basic fillable PDF document and are more concerned with information than style, two simpler browser-based Adobe Acrobat alternatives are:

You can also use Microsoft Word or Microsoft Excel to create a bare-bones fillable word document and use the convert PDF option to save as a PDF document.

For example, here’s what it looks like to create PDF templates with the free JotForm browser tool. We’ve included a logo in the form so that you can see how your styling will still show up on the final form.

Creating a WordPress fillable PDF in JotForm

2. Install Gravity Forms and Fillable PDFs

Next, you need to purchase, install, and activate both the core Gravity Forms plugin and the Fillable PDFs plugin.

For Gravity Forms, all you need is the Basic license unless you want access to more advanced add-ons like the Signature add-on.

3. Create a WordPress Fillable PDF Template

To get started, you need to upload the PDF that you created in Step #1 as a WordPress fillable PDF template for your WordPress form.

To do this…


4. Create Your Front-End Form

Next, you need to create the front-end form that your visitors will use to enter data into the WordPress fillable PDF.

You have two options here. You can..

  1. Manually create a form in Gravity Forms by going to Forms → New Form or using an existing form.
  2. Save time by letting the Fillable PDFs plugin automatically create a form for you based on the fields in your fillable PDF file. (Note: this is only available to ProfessionalFillable PDFs license or above).

To have the Fillable PDFs plugin automatically create a form for you…

Form entry

Gravity Forms editor

5. Map Web Form Fields to Fillable PDF Document

Once you’re happy with the appearance and layout of your front-end web form

Access WordPress fillable PDF settings

Create a new feed

  1. Click on the First Name fillable field in your PDF.
  2. Select the First Name field from Gravity Forms in the drop-down.
  3. Repeat for all the fields in your PDF.

6. Attach PDF to Email Notifications or Add Restrictions (Optional)

If you want to automatically attach your filled-out PDF document to email notifications that you send to admins and/or people who submit the fillable PDF form, you can use the Notifications setting in the Feed Settings interface:

  1. You can create new Gravity Forms email notifications from the Notifications tab.
  2. You can also go to the Advanced tab of the Feed Settings interface to add restrictions to your PDF file, like a password or download restrictions:

7. Display Your Form on the Front-End

Finally, to make your front-end web form available, you can create a new WordPress page and add the Gravity Forms block or shortcode:

Add form to page

If you want to draw attention to your form and rank it in Google, you can consider adding some additional text elements around the form.

Once you get a form submission, you can download your PDF from the Gravity Forms entry in your WordPress dashboard, and Gravity Forms will also attach your PDF to any notification emails that you specified.

If needed, you can upload the PDF file to your media library for easy access. You can also embed a PDF to download or view on your website using Fillable PDFs.

How To Embed A PDF Or Enable PDF Download On Your WordPress Website

To embed a PDF and enable it for download from your website,  allow users to download the generated pdf on the confirmation page, you need to embed it for view and download. Just follow these steps. 

Benefits of Using WordPress

While there are many products that let you create a fillable form like Adobe Acrobat, Microsoft Word or Excel, Google Forms, or even paper documents, WordPress gives you more control over your overall form layout and the information you collect.

You will be able to apply your page styles to everything on your fillable form including check boxes, text fields, radio buttons, signature fields, and dropdown menus. When you want to create fillable PDFs that you can send to customers online, you can use existing forms that you save as a new interactive form.

By using the Fillable PDFs plugin, you can extend its functionality with other plugins. Using a WordPress esignature plugin, you can prepare forms using a digital signature, for example. Other plugins will allow you to include a PDF editor on page, or convert a Word document or Adobe PDF, or paper form to fillable form fields.

When you create PDF fillable forms in WordPress, you can use the same field properties and field names on check boxes, text fields, and radio buttons for any new form fields you add to existing forms or new forms and it automatically reflects on your website.

Get Started With a WordPress Fillable PDF Today

Using a WordPress fillable PDF is a great solution for applications, contracts, and other legal documents.

It’s simpler for both you and your visitors.

It’s simpler for them because they can enter all their data via a user-friendly web form. And it’s simpler for you because you can automatically turn that data into a finished PDF document without lifting a finger.

With Gravity Forms and the Fillable PDFs plugin, it’s easy to turn form entries into finished PDF documents, while retaining all the original styling in your PDF document.

To get started with your first WordPress fillable PDF document, purchase the Fillable PDFs plugin today.