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How to Create Editable and Fillable PDFs in Canva

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Canva is one of those amazing graphic design softwares that can do a wide range of things. Naturally, if you need to create fillable and editable PDFs, Canva is one of the first places you’d turn to. While this is possible, it’s a two-step process.

To create fillable PDFs in Canva, finalize your design in Canva and upload it to a PDF editor program such as PDFescape. Use the PDF editor to add fillable boxes in your PDF. To create editable PDFs in Canva, finalize your design in Canva and instruct your users to reupload it to Canva to edit it.

We’re going to talk about two separate processes – one for creating fillable PDFs and one for creating editable PDFs. 

If the difference between these isn’t clear, here are the definitions we’re running with in this tutorial:

Fillable PDF: having a PDF with text boxes, checkmark boxes, and other things that your end user can fill in. This is great for forms and worksheets.

These PDFs won’t be editable in the traditional sense of being able to change what’s on your document. For example, your user can’t change a sentence or image that’s already there. They’ll only be able to add to it.

fillable pdf checklist
Here’s an example of a fillable PDF. It has areas where I can enter text, checkmarks, etc.

Editable PDF: having a PDF that changes can be made to. This is great if you need a PDF you can collaborate with someone with or needs extensive changes made to it.

Important note: fillable PDFs can be used by themselves. Simply open them and start filling in the fillable areas! Editable PDFs can NOT be used by themselves. Editable PDFs require your user to use software, which we’ll talk about.

Let’s start off with making fillable PDFs.

How to Make Fillable PDFs in Canva

To make a fillable PDF in Canva, begin by designing and finalizing your design within Canva. Download it as a PDF and upload it to a PDF editor such as PDF Escape. Use PDFescape to add form fields to your PDF. Download your PDF again and you’ll have a fillable PDF you can use.

Let’s walk through this step-by-step.

1. Design your PDF in Canva

Create your PDF in Canva and design it fully. Make sure it’s finished and exactly as you want it.

When we add the fillable elements, we won’t be changing anything about the look and design of it, so make sure your Canva PDF is ready to go from a design standpoint.

If you have Canva Pro, there are a lot of awesome templates you can choose from. The one below is entirely a Canva template with nothing else added. I love Canva templates because a lot of them can be used as is, which saves me a lot of design time.

canva checklist template

2. Download your design as a PDF

Once you’re done with your design, download it as a PDF. You can do this by clicking on the Share button and choosing one of the PDF options. Any of the PDF options will work.

download canva design as a pdf

Side note: if you have a multi-page PDF, you might be wondering how to rearrange the pages before downloading them. If so, I have a tutorial on rearranging pages in Canva that’s helpful to check out!

3. Upload your PDF to PDFescape or another PDF editor

Now it’s time to create your fillable fields. My favorite program for doing this is PDFescape, but you can use any PDF program that has the same features.

To upload your design to PDFescape, choose the Free Online version.

pdfescape free online option

Next, click on the button to Upload PDF to PDFescape and drag and drop your PDF into the uploader.

pdfescape upload pdf

4. Add your fillable elements

Within PDFescape, click on the Form Field button.

pdfescape form field

This will give you a whole list of options to choose from. Choose whichever one you need!

pdfescape text field options

When you’ve selected the type of form field you need, drag it to fill your fillable area.

pdfescape add fillable text field

Important note: you need to create separate form fields for each chunk of text. In this case, we need separate form fields for every line and every check box.

5. Adjust your font and fillable box properties, as needed

You can adjust the font style, font size, font color for each individual text box. You can also click on the wrench to open the settings for the box to make more adjustments.

pdfescape text formatting options

6. Download your fillable PDF

Once you’re done adding your fillable elements, download your PDF from PDFescape. You can do this by clicking on the green button on the left-hand side of your screen.

pdfescape download button

Now your fillable PDF is ready to use! Your users can simply open it and start using the fillable elements you included. Pretty neat, right?

Now let’s talk about making editable PDFs in Canva.

How to Make Editable PDFs in Canva

To make an editable PDF in Canva, begin by designing and finalizing your design within Canva. Download it as a PDF and have your user upload it to a PDF editor that allows for advanced editing, like Canva. This will allow your user to fully edit your PDF and download it again when finished.

Like I mentioned in the beginning of this article, for your user to edit your PDF, they’ll need to use software. They can’t just open the PDF and make all the changes they want.

It’s a bit of a pain, but that’s what we’ve got to work with here.

Here’s what to do, step-by-step:

1. Design your PDF in Canva

Again, you can use one of the awesome Canva Pro templates, or create the design from scratch.

canva brochure template
Another one of Canva’s great templates!

Given that we’re creating an editable PDF, anything you do can be changed down the line, so you only need to finalize it as much as you want to before presenting it to your user for editing.

2. Download your design as a PDF

Once you’re done with your design, download it as a PDF. You can do this by clicking on the Share button and choosing one of the PDF options. Any of the PDF options will work.

canva download pdf options

3. Upload your PDF to an advanced PDF editor

At this point, we need to upload your PDF to a PDF editor that has full editing capabilities. Something that will allow you to change existing text, move around images, and add new elements. 

Unfortunately, PDFescape, despite being amazing, can’t do all of this. 

My suggestion is to have your user upload your PDF right back into Canva. PDFs uploaded to Canva can be fully edited. It’s like magic and it’s amazing.

pdf upload of brochure in canva
Here’s that same design uploaded as a PDF back into Canva. You can’t even tell it was uploaded!

If you want to skip the downloading and uploading piece, use Canva’s Share button. When you click on Share, you’ll be able to invite people to collaborate on your design. Enter their email address and they’ll get an email with a link to your design.

canva share design

Important note: the person you share your design with can have either a free or Pro account with Canva. That said, they will need to have a Canva Pro membership to use any of Canva’s Pro elements.

The bad news is that software is required at all for your user to edit your PDF. 

The great news is that Canva edits PDFs really really well. They basically act like any other design that you’re using in Canva.

If you want to fully edit a PDF, using Canva is a great way to do it. 

Creating fillable and editable PDFs is a great way to make PDFs that are more useful and efficient than standard PDFs. Now that you know how to make them, have fun with all of the possibilities!

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