I created a new business card design for a client in Illustrator. Usually I just create one for each employee and send it to a print company. If a new employee is hired, I just create a new AI and edit the contact details.

Now my question is, is there a possibility to make a placeholder in Illustrator with all designed fonts (family, size, weight, style) and export as a PDF? So the client can create new business cards. Just open the PDF in Adobe Acrobat, amend the information, save and send it to print?

Hope you can help me out.

4 Answers 4


Adobe does not make AI/PDF files editable outside AI. So, the answer is no.

Acrobat does have the ability to add some text on top of a PDF and re-save, but without the option to change fonts or do any meaningful formatting or alignment.

Acrobat Pro might come with some additional features here, but the Pro is a paid version ($15/mo), which presumably is something your client wants to avoid.

Believe it or not, from a client perspective, the easiest and probably cheapest way is to have the original designer make further changes.


You can edit a PDF to a degree with Acrobat and appropriate fonts installed on the system.

Acrobat will allow some text editing via its text tool. But there may be some (rather common) issues:

  • The user will need the fonts installed. Relying on the embedded fonts within the PDF itself may often result in poor kerning or missing glyphs. Having the font installed will allow Acrobat to reference the actual font as opposed to embedded data if it is necessary.
  • Positioning. Since names and titles tend to vary in length, it can present a problem when a name does not fit the allotted space for it. Nothing is going to "word wrap" and moving lines of text can be problematic. All names would need to fit the space provided. It is generally not a problem to change "Nick Cage" to "George Clooney". However, changing "Nick Cage" to "Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio" can be a nightmare. This, in itself, is reason enough to stick to editing in Illustrator.
  • Positioning Part 2. Contact information in my experience can be wildly different per individual. Some users want just a phone, email, and address on their card. Some users want home phone, office phone, email, address, cell, fax, skype, etc. So for most business cards it often takes positioning adjustments to get all that extra data onto the card. This will, again, be problematic using Acrobat. Again, a reason to stick with the current Illustrator editing.
  • No type "tricks". Editing in Acrobat isn't going to allow you to pull off some minor "tricks" often used to get things to fit or look more aesthetically pleasing. You won't be able to alter tracking, kerning or leading for text. Sometimes all it takes is a minor kerning adjustment to get a name to fit a business card. You won't be able to do that editing in Acrobat. So, even 1 glyph over the allotted space will be problematic.
  • Aesthetics -- Most clients won't watch things for aesthetics. They'll just slap on the change and run with it. They won't care about horrible kerning, a line of text that is too long and breaks positioning. An incorrect alignment, etc. So to maintain continuity between cards, it often means you need someone with an eye for the aesthetics, not just the text changes.

I have set up a few standard PDFs and have a client that uses Acrobat to alter text in the PDF when needed. However, this really only works well when what is being edited is somewhat standardized.

For example, in the PDFs my client edits, they are editing pricing. So, in all instances the text being changed is a maximum of 7 digits ($000.00), therefore there's no issue with line length and spacing. I merely created the PDF with the space needed for 7 characters. This is nearly impossible for business cards in my experience.

Ultimately for business cards, using Illustrator (or InDesign) is a better choice than trying to format a PDF for client editing. There are just too many issues due to the varying length of names, titles, and contact information on each card.


Acrobat Pro does allow editing of text, changing fonts, preflighting. It's really useful. Printers have it (I assume) for the proofing and preflight features. Pre-cloud versions (Acrobat X is the last pre-CC one that I have) can be installed without a monthly fee.

The only issues with editing text in PDFs is that text boxes or regions may not expand sufficiently if you are adding text, and paragraphs don't exist -- they are groups of individual lines.


PDF is not intended to be edited. But still there exists some programs that open PDFs as viable editable material. Ai is one of them. At the low cost end of the price spread there exist

  • Sherif PagePlus X9 and
  • Foxit Fantom.

Try them as free demos.

PagePlus is legacy stuff that surprisingly is still available. That must be because Sherif's Affinity designer still is nearly useless due the development efforts focused onto looks, not to the functionality.

Just in case the customer has Ai, but you do not want them mess around your design more than adding a new name, title, telephone and email, you can give to them a proper Ai file. Rasterize everything that you want to keep hard to edit.

About fonts:

You should be aware that you can't legally embedd fonts for your customer for editing. Some fonts allow embedding for printing, but generally only free fonts are possible to be included in PDF or other artwork files legally. Adobe PDF printer, Ai and Acrobat Pro cancel all attempts to include non-free fonts for editing the text content.

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