How to use Adobe Acrobat as a typewriter to fill in forms

I suspect many law firms have typewriters squirreled away somewhere just to fill in forms.

Ross Kodner, computer guru extraordinaire, has an article about how Acrobat Standard, Professional or Professional Extended editions can be used as a typewriter to fill in those forms. He gives very detailed step-by-step instructions about how to save the forms as pdfs and then how to fill them in.

He has his own blog,, and this and some of his other articles are also published in the Small Law blog at

There is no charge to subscribe to either Ross’ blog or the mailings. Subscribing to both is highly recommended.

You can insert videos and sound into PDF documents!!!

I was reading Ross Kodner’s blog and he described a CLE presentation he had seen where David Ferrell, an attorney, had shown a sample PDF demand letter that had video included in it. Here’s Ross’s accolade:

In a demand letter related to personal injuries suffered by a Chinese melamine-laced formula poison infant, the video that popped up was devastating – showing the powerful concept conveyance capabilities of video images v. mere words or even static pictures. While obviously not likely admissible, the effect on a claims adjuster could be significant.

I went to the lawyer’s site and he had a sample letter that had embedded in it a sound video of the plaintiffs’ baby crying as well as two very brief mp3 files.

This ability to insert a number of different file types was news to me, and I could see a variety of ways that this ability could be valuable.

You do need Adobe Acrobat 9 Pro to create the documents and the reader/viewer/listener will need to at least have downloaded the free Adobe 9 viewer.

For details from Adobe, take a look at Adobe’s “step-by-step guide” for “Inserting rich Media into PDF files.”

With a Google search of: pdf “insert video” (with the quotation marks) I also found a video demo of how to insert flash content into a PDF document.

Here’s a general caveat, however, regarding Acrobat:

Adobe has reported: “A critical vulnerability has been identified in Adobe Reader 9 and Acrobat 9 and earlier versions. This vulnerability would cause the application to crash and could potentially allow an attacker to take control of the affected system. There are reports that this issue is being exploited.”

For more information of the vulnerability, click here. The writer of this article reports another source that recommends that people disable javascript in Reader.

A friend of mine sent me the following about a detailed ABA posting about Acrobat training. (The posting was in ABA’s blog Site-tation, which if from ABA’s Legal Technology Resource Center.) Here’s what he sent:

Training Alert!  Free Acrobat Legal Training Movies
You can get Adobe Acrobat training relevant to attorneys at no cost or travel–just visit the Acrolaw Blog to access links to free Acrobat Legal Training Movies. There are at least 25 short films and 2 hour-long e-seminars with more being added regularly. Topics include creating PDFs, combining PDF, working with PDFs, OCR, securing PDFs and using legal-specific features such as redaction and Bates numbering. You can download the slide presentations to watch offline. 

The Acrobat blog, Acrolaw Blog, is more fully described as “Acrobat for Legal Professionals” and is authored by Rick Borstein, who is “a Business Development Manager specializing in the Acrobat-Legal Market for Adobe Systems Incorporated.”

Please leave a comment if you or others have used video and other rich media in PDF files.