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Learning Centre

Populate PDF

Populate PDF allows Govstack Forms to use tokens to automatically complete and send a fillable PDF form. This feature can be used to automate the creation of permits, tax receipts, event tickets, and a variety of other documents.

Populate PDF is an optional forms feature. To determine if your installation has this feature go to any form and open the email options. If the feature is installed “Populate PDF” will appear as a check box below the file attachment upload field. To explore adding Populate PDF to your forms, contact your GHD Digital account executive for more information.

Before you Start

When creating a form using Populate PDF it may be easier to create your fillable PDF first, as an outline of what fields and questions you will need. When building this PDF remember that it can be difficult to represent multiple choice options. The populate functionality uses tokens to fill spaces in the PDF form. These tokens represent strings of letters or numbers so there is no convenient way to convert answers into a selected checkbox or radio button in your PDF.

Creating the PDF

First you will need to create a mock-up of your PDF outlining what information the form will pass to the document. This can be created in most word processing or design software, such as Office, Google Docs, or InDesign.

We’ve included a sample office file to assist you. The example provided is of an automated tax receipt for a charitable donation.

Step 1 Example File - Mock-up

Note what fields you will need to create in your form to complete the PDF.

Next, replace the mock up data with fillable areas such as blank space, lines, or boxes. This will give you space to add the form fields in your fillable PDF.

Step 2 Example File - Adding space for fillable fields

Convert your document to a fillable PDF form. This will require additional software, such as Adobe Acrobat. Many PDF applications include an automated form creation tool, such as Acrobat’s “Prepare Form”. Also ensure that the PDF form meets accessibility requirements in your jurisdiction.

Step 3 Example File - Fillable PDF form

You will need to pause the process here to create your form in Form Builder.

Once your questions are completed and you have finalised their order access the list of tokens and add them to your fillable PDF, placing them in their respective fields.

Step 4 Example File - Fillable PDF with tokens

Adding a populated PDF

To add a populated PDF to your form:

  1. Navigate to Form Builder and open your target form.
  2. Open the “Options” tab at the top of the screen and select “Email Options” from the menu at the upper left.
  3. Select the email option that will send the populated PDF or create a new one if required.
  4. Scroll down to the attachments upload field.
  5. Check the “Populate PDF” option.
  6. Click the “Browse” button.
  7. Select the prepared PDF from the file open dialogue and click the “Upload” button. The file may take a moment to upload to the application. See the “Creating the PDF” section for details on preparing this file.
  8. Scroll to the bottom of the page and click “Save” to confirm your changes.

Once the populate PDF option is added you will want to test your form several times. Review how the tokens interact with the fillable form and check if the spacing and field size are correct. Longer answers may exceed the available space depending on how the original PDF fields were built. Make revisions as necessary and reupload the PDF.