I am using InDesign CS6 (Mac) to create a one-page data entry form, and it contains three sets of radio buttons where only one choice is allowed for each set. Each of the buttons is supposed to have a square box, and the checked button is supposed to have a square box with a check mark inside. However, when I pull the generated PDF in Acrobat, the buttons exhibit some unexpected behavior as shown in this shot: Screenshot of radio buttons

If I click on one of the buttons, it will show the square box with check mark, and if I just hover over it the empty square box will appear. But if I click elsewhere, the ugly circles show, with the black dot indicating the selected box for that set.

I have looked at every setting and selection within InDesign for a couple days now, and I cannot see anything wrong. Has anyone else seen this behavior and found a way to fix it?

UPDATE: the link to the InDesign file and the generated PDF is here: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/fx7q2ym9bhpa7ac/AABlxQSYlHmLwSNUJMgIZX_ba?dl=0

  • This is the kind of question which might be a good fit for the proposed Graphic Design Software Support stack. Please see the proposal and follow it if you think it might be useful. area51.stackexchange.com/proposals/86994/… Commented May 8, 2015 at 19:47
  • @Lauren Ipsum, shall I re-post this question in the new stack, or just include a link to this post? Commented May 9, 2015 at 15:30
  • The new stack doesn't exist yet; it's only a proposal. You could post this as a sample question, which will help the proposal move forward to beta stage. Commented May 9, 2015 at 18:29

3 Answers 3


As far as I remember, InDesign does not produce a proper PDF with active elements; it involves (yuck!) Flash.

A radical but reliable way would be to not include the active elements in InDesign, but add them in Acrobat.

There you might add Checkboxes. To create a set of mutually exclusive checkboxes (behaving like radiobuttons, but allow to be unchecked), give the fields the same name, but a different return value.

  • As of CS6, InDesign is supposed to be able to produce fully interactive elements, and from what I can tell it isn't using flash (yay!). Being the great design tool it is, the more we can do in InDesign the better. My guess is that there is one little thing that I am missing. Commented May 9, 2015 at 15:36

First, how are you designing the buttons? Did you pull them from the sample buttons menu or did you just make a box and set it as a button? What it looks like to me is the appearance layers are mixed up. Go into your "Buttons and Forms" pane and look at the appearance and see if you see a box in the mouseover selection, check the click on and click off selections as well.


It's FEATURE of Acrobat called "Show border hover color for fields". And it is ON by default.

You can turn it OFF in Acrobat:
Preferences > Forms > uncheck "Show border hover color for fields"

Tip for work-around (not tested, source):
As a work-around, one could add either a OpenAction to the document or in the JavaScript name tree that will set the preference off using something like: app.runtimeHighlight = false

Detailed (source):
Acrobat/Reader have a feature (been there since Acrobat/Reader 6, IIRC) where they will "Highlight form fields" to show users which things on the page are real fields and which are simply text. This is on by default, though can be turned off in Preferences. Additionally, when the Form Message Bar (the purple thing) is present on a more complex form (than your one check box), the user can toggle it on/off easily. The highlight feature doesn't respect custom appearances, which is why you are seeing the normal one until you click.

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