I'm trying to make an interactive PDF document in InDesign CC 2018.

I need the document to include dozens of buttons that change from an outlined circle to a filled-in circle, and stay filled-in, when the user clicks and releases them.

Check boxes could do this. But InDesign adds tick marks to checkboxes. I don't want this: I need a circle outline or a filled-in circle.

Is there any way to do this using InDesign's tools? Or is this something that could only be done by using JavaScript?

I know this could be done using Acrobat Pro, but due to number of the check boxes and how they have to be positioned, I'd prefer to do this in InDesign.


1 Answer 1


First of all, you must choose whether you want radio buttons or check boxes.

As a reminder: check-boxes allow multiple selection, while radio button allow only a single selection.
By convention, radio buttons are designed with circles and check-boxes with ticks, but Indesign definitely allows you to customize your buttons the way you like...

See https://helpx.adobe.com/indesign/using/interactivity-5.html#create_buttons for documentation about multi-states buttons.

Fyi, Indesign provides a library with example buttons. But if you start designing your buttons from scratch, it will create a tick by default for check-boxes. You can just transform this tick into an ellipse - using "object > transform shape", or delete it and recreate your circle.
Or create your full circle at first, group it, transform into a check box and just delete the tick. Delete the full circle in the "inactive" state.

See a very basic example of a checkbox created from scratch: You can add click states and/or hover states if you wish.

enter image description here

  • Thanks for your reply. It took me a while to try it out. Unfortunately, the checkbox and buttons I created kept changing shape when I opened the PDF in Acrobat Reader DC (the ring would turn into a square, while the check mark would flip between a tick and circle) and didn't work at all when I opened it in another PDF reader. Jan 21, 2019 at 21:22
  • Here's a video of what happened. They should switch between an outlined circle and a filled circle. (Checkbox on left, button on right). dropbox.com/s/gvm7b0h65gwtnnp/… Jan 21, 2019 at 21:34
  • Hi. About the fact that Acrobat changes boxes and button appearance, it's because "Highlight fields" is ON. Please read my answer here: graphicdesign.stackexchange.com/questions/103770/…
    – Vinny
    Jan 22, 2019 at 8:19
  • About the button that doesn't stay filled, it's most probably because you did set "onclick" state, but didn't set the "active" state in Indesign. Check it out. Please note that any other PDF reader than Acrobat (Pro or DC) is not recommended for any kind of interactivity. Be careful about the final intent of the document and make sure final users have Acrobat DC.
    – Vinny
    Jan 22, 2019 at 8:23
  • Thanks for the tips @Vinny, but this problem seems to happen in multiple PDF readers. This is the PDF of the document I made in InDesign: in Reader DC with highlight fields off: bit.ly/2RI4HCt (Mac), bit.ly/2TbM3j6 (Windows 10) in FoxIt Reader (Windows 10): bit.ly/2DquBBI in Acrobat Pro (Mac, old version), with highlight fields off: bit.ly/2R6j7XA, and in Mac OS X's Preview: bit.ly/2DrrGIU Preview is the only reader that displays the PDF's checkboxes as I intended. (And yes, this is a niche geek thing I'm trying to lay out.) Jan 22, 2019 at 11:41

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