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I am trying to figure out how I create a downloadable PDF template of a wedding invitation design that my customers can edit themselves. They will be approx 2 fonts used on each template and the customer will need to be able to edit all text themselves. e.g. change their names, wedding date, location etc. etc.

Basically I want to be able to sell an editable downloadable template. So I will need to lock the artwork and "open" the text so they can edit the text only.

If you think of something like this image. That has artwork that I want to be uneditable and then has text that I want the customer to be able to edit and print out themselves at home etc.

enter image description here

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    Customers will need the font(s), and a PDF editor... I don't think the free Adobe Reader will allow for editing. There are reasons you don't see anyone offering these types of "no software needed editable downloads". – Scott Apr 16 '17 at 10:31
  • @Metis Well you could have a web page that modifies the file in illustrator for example – joojaa Apr 16 '17 at 12:38
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    @joojaa :) Yup could be done via web programmatically (which would be a dev question, not a design question), but not just with a "downloadable template" – Scott Apr 16 '17 at 17:15
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You can't do it.

To edit a PDF successfully without the source file, you need the fonts and artwork, and some program beyond Reader. Reader may allow you to make some minor tweaks, but for the "fill in the blank" template you're envisioning, you need something more powerful.

Also, if you have a program which can edit a PDF (like Illustrator), it can edit the artwork too.

There may be a way to create an online form which then fills in the blanks and produces a final image which can be downloaded, but that's an entire application itself.

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You can not do this easily (or in fact at all) with off the shelf tools (but you can do it with notepad, go figure). But if you are willing to invest in a server running suitable software and font library. Then a system like that could be built for you. Bear in mind that this system most probably costs you more than what your normal client's are willing to pay so you will need a volume of clients.

Off course this isn't exactly no software needed. But could be built. Its not terribly hard but runs against the business interest of most design shops.

  • Thank you for your reply joojaa, Hmmmm, yep, I hear you. Running a small server wouldn't be an issue and we could do this ourselves. Just need to work out now if offering this service would be worth the effort. We are already a busy little studio but we dont get anything in passive income which is a side of the biz I would love to push harder to grow. You've given me food for thought there. thanks. :) – Sarah Apr 16 '17 at 19:17
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You can do it easily if you do not want extreme typographic control and the user must himself install the wanted new fonts

Steps:

  • create the base image (=artwork and the non-editable background) as a single highres (=printable) JPG image.
  • Use Photoshop, Indesign or other software to create a PDF that has your base image
  • Open the PDF in Adobe Reader or Foxit Reader (=both freeware)
  • Add some examples as comment textboxes and rudimentary drawings that can be created by the commenting tools. Textboxes use only installed fonts, so use some common system fonts.

Save your PDF. It's re-editable with the same PDF reader. It's re-editable also with the others, but you easily lose colors and font selections because they have different ways to present the comments.

This method is not for large scale business, only for discrete projects, because the user surely asks something about "how to get gorgeous fonts"

enter image description here

Non-Editability: If user has a print ready PDF, he also has a print-ready image of the artwork. That can be extracted and edited in a photo editor. Do not give your arwork as vector data, rasterize it before creating the PDF.

Not asked, but MS Office is another common software. It's inferior for pro quality printing, but home users could get few prints by using Word or PowerPoint. You could deliver templates with a background image and editable textboxes. This idea is given by user @Scott.

This answer can be improved. It needs a proper way to generate the base PDF with embedded (freeware) fonts in model textboxes and a way to force user's reader to utilitze them when editing the comments.

  • Thanks so much for your reply user287001! Very helpful indeed. – Sarah Apr 16 '17 at 19:14
  • This is the only correct answer and deserves way more upvotes! I have been looking for a way all these etsy sellers did this, and this is exactly the way to do it. – Summer May 22 '17 at 9:20

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