I have a basic 2 page form, converted from a word document.

I gather that I must use the TouchUp Reading Order panel to draw boxes around the content and specify its type (Text, Form Field etc) and order.

My main issue is that it keeps merging my boxes together e.g. sequential radio buttons get merged into one Form Field even though I have only drawn the box around one. It is incredibly frustrating.

I'm also unclear as to exactly what I should be selecting. Take this for example:

enter image description here

14 is a radio button which I assume is to be Form Field, but what about 11 and 13, are these text or Form Field? And 12, which is a textbox, this is to be Form Field too right?

Appreciate any help

  • 2
    Depending on how many different forms you're going to make, how nice this is going to look and your proficiency in InDesign: I would recommend taking a tutorial in how to create forms in InDesign and then import them to Acrobat. (You do most of the work creating fields etc. in Indesign then you finalize in Acrobat.) Importing Word files to create/auto-generate forms is usually very unsatisfying. You can get decent results from importing Excel files. Also, there is a forms function built into word, so if you need to keep the Word doc and want to do this quick and dirty, just do it in Word.
    – HaraldCFS
    Oct 25, 2017 at 17:09
  • I'd second this. When I've had to build forms that were destined for print first, this is where I would do it. It may take a bit of time to set up the first time, but there are tools in InDesign to make the PDF export process much easier.
    – karolus
    Dec 16, 2017 at 17:27
  • 1
    "converted from a word document" <-- there's your problem entirely.
    – Scott
    Feb 14, 2018 at 18:06

2 Answers 2


Radio buttons are a grouped-field item, they are not checkboxes.

The radio button metaphor is from the old push-button presets on a car radio: the button remains depressed (latched); only one can be pressed; and the previously latched button is released.

One uses radio buttons to limit the input to one single entry out of a limited set of specified choices. The result is assigned to a single field.

This is probably the reason the software is forcing a grouping: they make no sense without at least two options and cannot be deselected.

So if your field is "Foo?" and you store "yes/no" then use a checkbox.

If your field is "Which Foo?" and you want to limit it to "bar or baz or bizizzle," then use radio buttons.

If you like the look of radio buttons for checkboxes, but cannot "reskin" or select a different look as an option for a checkbox, don't use radio buttons (again: they cannot be deselected).


Every item which has own number in the shown reading order view are tagged separately. Some PDF editors which have tagging tools and "Touch up reading order" -dialog combine automatically adjacent equally tagged items under one number in the reading order view, no matter you have tagged them separately. They can still have separate tags in the tag tree. Or not. Check!

Some editors allow disabling that automatic combining, others do not.

If you have say 2 form areas that you have selected & tagged separately, but in the reading order view they became placed under same number check in the tag tree if they have separate tags.

If they happen to be included in one tag you can cut the 2nd object out of the tag and paste it as child into a manually inserted new tag. If you have Acrobat DC Pro, there's no need to cut and paste, you simply drag the object inside the tree to the right place. I have used PDF editors where the only way to change an object into a new tag is to cut & paste it as child.

If you want to keep one item out of the combined reading order area you can prevent the combining to happen by disabling the combine same -option in the Touch-up reading order dialog. If it cannot be disabled in your PDF editor, tag the item to something else, for ex. to Figure. Change it right by right-clicking the tag in the tag tree and change the tag in the tag properties dialog. Many tags require some Object attributes such as Bounding Box. Tagging to Figure at least generates it.

You cannot skip the tag tree. It's your actual battlefield - so much must be built there if you are going to build accessible PDFs which are actually accessible, not only formally right as you can easily find in make PDF accessible -guides.

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