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July 17, 2008


Thanks, that is nice. I especially like the inclusion of both Linux and Windows screenshots, as I sometimes have to use Portable OpenOffice on Windows computers at the university. Good job!

This is _exactly_ what I need to accomplish this week! Nice timing, and thanks for the helpful tutorial. I only wish there was a way to save filled-in PDFs, but that's a shortfall of Acrobat. One workaround is to print the filled-in PDF to another PDF file (via one of the many available print-to-PDF printer drivers). Unfortunately, that's not very convenient for most people.

Thank you so much. You taught me more in 10 minutes than hours looking at various blogs. Thanks

Hi funnebone,

I'm glad it helped!


Hi Nathan,

Yeah, saving the PDF thing would be great -- one can at least save it in the .odt file, but of course that's for OOo users only.



I've found that some PDF readers (such as Evince in Linux) will allow you to save a copy of the PDF with the fields filled in. Adobe's own Acrobat Reader won't, however, and instead gives the user some terrible "Cannot save form data" message. How nice.

Because of that, I'm considering going with the OpenOffice-only solution. Does anyone know if there is a cross-platform application that can open an OO form just for filling in/printing/saving, with no editing capability? (I don't want my users to munge the form layout.)

Many thanks for the advice. I like OO, but I'm new to creating forms.

Hi Nathan,

That's cool about Evince! Re opening OOo forms I think if you put it in use-only mode rather than edit mode (see the PDF), most users won't know how to bring up the right toolbar and use the right icon to get it into editable mode to change the form. Also perhaps setting the permissions as read only might work -- not sure if you'd be able to fill in the widgets that way but it's worth a try.


Thank you for your insights. I'm a strong believer that a word processing application is like a software development environment; end users should not have to run the development environment to use the product (unless document editing is actually part of the user's task).

That said, my users might be able to install OOo to use its "native" form-filling capability (instead of exporting to a feature-weak PDF form). This would also give me an excuse for proliferating OOo!

Now I'm having font/format issues between Windows/Linux... but that's another issue. Thank you again for your informative site.

One thing that was not clear to me was creating entry fields/variables that can be referenced in other parts of the document. For example, lets say on the first page of a data entry document, you have a data entry field to put in a "Company Name", and on subsequent page headers we want the "Company Name" filled-in based on what I put in that data entry field. I know how to do it in Acrobat, but I'd rather do it on the OpenOffice document, then convert it to Acrobat (so I can do "single-sourcing"/maintaining the document in one place, convert it, and not need edit it again in Acrobat).

It's not clear to me either -- I'm sure you can do something in the Data tab of the field properties window but I don't know exactly what. Anyone else know?


Bless you girl friend! I am a little old lady volunteer working at a hospital with zero budget for software. I wanted to make a PDF form - but with no funding for Acrobat - what to do? My old friend OO. And your directions makes it work. Thank you. Now it is on with the boring tedious business of actually making the two page form.

Thanks Solveig for this great post. I am in business of data entry work and it will be very helpful for me in future. I have saved it and will use it.
Thanks again!

Thanks for this!

Just curious: do you know if it's possible to turn the box around a form field into an underline?

Hi Bill,

Kind of. You'd choose No Frame for the border type, format the text for the field as underlined, then put in at least 10 or so spaces of blanks as the default text.

That sounds creative! I'd say that sounds like cheating, but I don't mean to be critical; it may do exactly what I need.

BTW, it was pretty easy to create a useful form using your guide -- still more reasons to like OO.o.


I must have missed something, I can't move certain boxes to align them in the horizontal plane. check boxes and one plain text box.
I can move them up and down but not across. What did I do wrong?

Hi fitgeek,

I think you might have them anchored as characters. Right-click on one and choose Anchor > A good selection for dragging is To Page or To Paragraph.

You are absolutely right! And thanks for the quick response. I owe you one. :)


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Hello Solveig,

I have read through some of your tutorials and wanted to know if this is possible:

Can a person user OO 3 to create a form that has any select, default vals, etc.. that they want and then be able o export that form as an XML or some sort of usable file that I can use on the web?

I know I will have to setup some processing of the form on the web, but what I am looking to do is allow the HR and other personnel develop their own forms and then just pass them to me to be deployed on the internet.

Is something like this possible?
I have read that it is not.

thank you.

With Open Office 3.0.0 I can create a PDF form no problem. However I cannot produce a form where the Acrobat Reader 9 says I can save.

A submit button works when a URL is given to the form.

A date type field doesn't have the date drop down and you can type anything in.

to produce a pdf from open office, there are several free pdf printer software. With the help of these you can just print the document in pdf.

Thanks for this good information...
accounts outsourcing

I was so glad to find this tutorial on how to make forms. I started at the top but didn't get very far before I had a problem. I can not get the grid to show at all and it seems this is very important to the looks of the form. What can I do or where should I look for help?

Hi Richard,

It's tools > options, Writer, Grid, then Snap to Grid and Visible Grid.


The grid icons are also in the Form Design toolbar; View > Toolbars > Form Design.

TY for the quick reply. All of your suggestions are checked, but still now view on the document.

Sorry, not now, but the grid still does not appear.

Seems after looking hard that a grid is on the screen, however it is very pale and not visible enough to make a good form. Is there a way to make the grid color darker?

Tools > Options,. OpenOffice.org, Appearance, and find the area for Writer in the scrolling area, then the Grid section. Change Default to Black.

Then under Tools > Options > Writer > Grid, you can also put the grid lines closer together if you like, though don't do it too much since then you lose the benefit of the grid.

I was able to make the grid darker, TY. Is there a way to make my form emailable for someone to fill in the blanks and send it back?

The form can be filled in by anyone with OpenOffice and the fvalues saved, just put it in view, rather than edit, form, according to the instructions.

In PDF form, values can't be saved because of limitations in Adobe Reader.


I found this and its is a great tutorial. It is very clear But right off the bat I had a problem. I cannot get the text label for the first text box to go to the left of it. I think its a problem with the cursor in write. I can manually move the controls around to where I want them but that is not what the tutorial says to do. I think the author might have missed explaining a step or maybe it is a quirk of OO3.1 and this tutoriall was written for 002. I total I am having to move all of the form controls around to the places they should be according to the tutorialusing the move tool. What am I doing wrong

Hi Robert,

I'm not sure I'm following you. You can and should drag the boxes and labels anywhere you want. If you find that you can't, right-click on it and choose Anchor > To Paragraph.

Hi Solveig, Nice Post!

The blog is really helpful for everyone who is involved in data entry business and anyone who want to make data entry form for personal purpose.

Thanks for sharing thoughts!!!

sloveig. I found out the anchoring in the right clicking on the control. I do not understand what all the choices mean but choosing another one seem to work.

I want to create a PDF Order Form that when you enter a price and a quantity, the third box automatically calculates the total price. I know how to do this in a spreadsheet, but I need to be able to do it using Form Fields in a Writer document. If you or anyone could please contact me about how to do this, that would be great. Thank you.

i want open an office in my city of on line data entry work. how is it possible

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