Ask the Designer: Create a PDF in Word?


I found the following instructions over on  They explain how to create a PDF form in Microsoft Word.  However, be forewarned, it can be a bit tedious if you have several options which is when Adobe Acrobat Pro can run circles around Word.  But, if ever you are in need of assistance, call on Dina’s Desktop to the rescue.  Dina’s got this!


Create a fillable form

To create a form in Word that others can fill out, start with a template and add content controls. Content controls include things like check boxes, text boxes, date pickers, and drop-down lists. If you’re familiar with databases, these content controls can even be linked to data.

Creating a fillable form begins with six basic steps. Let’s walk through them below.

Step 1: Show the Developer tab

  1. Click the File tab.
  2. Click Options.
  3. Click Customize Ribbon.
  4. Under Customize the Ribbon, in the list under Main Tabs, select the Developer check box, and then click OK.

    Customize Ribbon dialog

Step 2: Open a template or a document on which to base the form

To save time, start with a form template. To start from scratch, start with a blank template.

Start with a form template

  1. Click the File tab.
  2. Click New.
  3. In the Search online templates box, type the type of for you want to create and press ENTER.
  4. Click the form template that you want to use, and then click Create.

Start with a blank template

  1. Click the File tab.
  2. Click New.
  3. Click Blank document.

Step 3: Add content to the form

On the Developer tab, click Design Mode, and then insert the controls that you want.

Design Mode button

NOTE: You can print a form that was created using content controls, but the boxes around the content controls will not print.

Insert a text control where users can enter text

In a rich text content control, users can format text as bold or italic, and they can type multiple paragraphs. If you want to limit what users add, insert the plain text content control.

  1. Click where you want to insert the control.
  2. On the Developer tab, click Rich Text Content Control Ribbon image or Plain Text Content Control Ribbon image .

To set specific properties on the control, see Step 4: Set or change properties for content controls.

Insert a picture control

A picture control is often used for templates, but you can also add a picture control to a form.

  1. Click where you want to insert the control.
  2. On the Developer tab, click Picture Content Control.

To set specific properties on the control, see Step 4: Set or change properties for content controls.

Insert a building block control

Use building block controls when you want people to choose a specific block of text. For example, building block controls are helpful if you’re setting up a contract template, and you need to add different boilerplate text depending on the contract’s specific requirements. You can create rich text content controls for each version of the boilerplate text, and then you can use a building block control as the container for the rich text content controls.

You can also use a building block control in a form.

  1. Click where you want to insert the control.
  2. On the Developer tab, in the Controls group, click a content control:

    Building block controls

To set specific properties on the control, see Step 4: Set or change properties for content controls.

Insert a combo box or a drop-down list

In a combo box, users can select from a list of choices that you provide or they can type in their own information. In a drop-down list, users can only select from the list of choices.

  1. On the Developer tab, click Combo Box Content Control Button image or Drop-Down List Content Control Ribbon image .
  2. Select the content control, and then on the Developer tab, click Properties.
  3. To create a list of choices, click Add under Drop-Down List Properties.
  4. Type a choice in the Display Name box, such as Yes, No, or Maybe.

    Repeat this step until all of the choices are in the drop-down list.

  5. Fill in any other properties that you want.

    NOTE:  If you select the Contents cannot be edited check box, users won’t be able to click a choice.

Insert a date picker

  1. Click where you want to insert the date picker control.
  2. On the Developer tab, click the Date Picker Content Control.

To set specific properties on the control, see Step 4: Set or change properties for content controls.

Insert a check box

  1. Click where you want to insert the check box control.
  2. On the Developer tab, click the Check Box Content Control.

To set specific properties on the control, see Step 4: Set or change properties for content controls.

Step 4: Set or change properties for content controls

Each content control has properties that you can set or change. For example, the Date Picker control offers options for the format you want to use to display the date.

  1. Click the content control that you want to change.
  2. On the Developer tab, click Properties, and change the properties that you want.

Step 5: Add instructional text to the form

Instructional text can enhance the usability of the form you create and distribute. You can change the default instructional text in content controls.

To customize the default instructional text for your form users, do the following:

  1. On the Developer tab, click Design Mode.
  2. Click the content control where you want to revise the placeholder instructional text.
  3. Edit the placeholder text and format it any way you want.
  4. On the Developer tab, click Design Mode to turn off the design feature and save the instructional text.

NOTE: Do not select the Contents cannot be edited check box if you want form users to replace the instructional text with their own text.

Step 6: Add protection to a form

If you want to limit how much others can edit or format a form, use the Restrict Editing command:

  1. Open the form that you want to lock or protect.
  2. Click Home > Select > Select All, or press CTRL+A.
  3. Click Developer > Restrict Editing.

TIP:  If you want, you can test the form prior to distributing it. Open the form, fill it out as the user would, and then save a copy in a location that you want.


Ask The Designer: Color Choices?


Choosing a graphic design project’s colors in 3 steps.

1. DEFINE the project and the audience.

  • Consider the elements within the project such as typography and graphic icons or shapes.
  • Consider the viewing location and the demographics of the audience.

2. DISCOVER colors relevant to the industry represented by the project.

  • Resource sites such as and offer a plethara of color schemes for inspiration.
  • Seek inspiration from images related to the project to visualize color schemes in real life settings.

3. DEVELOP the color scheme by styling the project with sample palettes.

  • Sort and cull the sampled color combinations to narrow down the selection to the best 3-5 possibilities.
  • Refine the combinations using a color wheel to define complementary color groups, compound color groups or contrasting color groups.

Sampling the best picks and experimenting with a few combinations will help find the one that feels right.


Freebie Friday – Graph Generator


Freebie Friday from Dina’s Desktop brings to you a free online resource.  Check out this free graph generator at TGIF!


Be inspired: by animation


Be inspired by a little animation at Eden Shorts Competition.  Dina’s Desktop can make something just as beautiful for you! #dinasdesktop

Ask The Designer: Visual Research?

How would you describe the research process for visual design?


There’s legit reason for everything the creative designer does throughout their research for a given project. Any particular technique, tool, or way of thinking is each used to achieve a specific result. It’s quite a scientific step-by-step process, according to Ian Noble and Russell Bestley who wrote “Visual Research, An Introduction to Research Methods in Graphic Design.”

In my view, research is the survey of the land before the road gets mapped. Different designers explore in various ways how best to arrive at a solution to the client’s needs. Their styles can move through many factors from pragmatic to poetic, with varying influences of training, experience, philosophy and personal idiosyncrasies. While others are more interrogative and work through a deductive process to come up with a better question, rather than a solution.

Both approaches are not necessarily exclusively used by one designer or another, nor is one method better than the other. They are more a significant part of the many approaches to the process of visual research. There are vast libraries of text books and educational courses developed to teach the methodologies of visual research.

But, it all begins with a problem that requires a solution. We start by examining the need within the terms of its reference and then proceed through a cycle of critical thinking and reflection. We analyze and compare. We consider art theory, the audience, materials for delivery and the form that will follow the function. We communicate, we plan, we examine and we circle back to do it all again.

Ellen Lupton wrote in the forward for Noble and Bestley’s text book that, “A designer is a creative intellectual who makes systems and things, studying the world of objects, users, and information in order to create living acts of communication.”

Though the research process is quite a hodge podge of methodologies that lend to critical thinking, it is also as abstract as the clouds sweeping the skies from day to day. To each his own, more or less.


Friday Freebies Finds Font Fun! “Zebrazil”


Check out Zebrazil at


How’d They Do That? Insert an Image into Text with InDesign


Hi Everyone!

Today, I’m going to show how to place an image into text using InDesign.  This is an easy trick that will give your layouts a design forward appeal and it looks super professional!

So, what we’re going to do is to transform your typography into picture frames.

This effect is often used in high-end publications to add impact to the headline, while showcasing an image in an eye-catching way.  It’s a great technique to add drama to your design.

To watch a video version of this tutorial, please visit Dina’s Desktop YouTube Channel.

Let’s do this!

  1. Our first step is to set up a magazine spread.

  • We’ll start by opening InDesign.
  • Let’s choose Create New>Document from the start menu.
  • Let’s keep intent set to Print, with the number of pages increased to 3, and facing pages checked.
  • In the page size drop down, we’ll set up a new custom page size as US Magazine. Set the width to 213 mm and the height to 276.5 mm.  Click Add, then OK, and we return to the document window.
  • Further down, let’s adjust the margins. Here, we’ll unlink the chain icon and set the Top Margin to 14 mm, Bottom to 18 mm, Inside to 14 mm and Outside to 12 mm.
  • Now to set the Bleed, select More Options. We can set the value to 3 mm on all sides except the Inside Bleed, we should set that to 0 mm.  Unlink the chain icon here to change the Inside Bleed.
  • Click OK.


  1. Our second step is to choose the right typeface. We’ll do this step in two parts.

(Part 1)

  • Now it’s important to choose the right typeface for this effect. We need to consider the font’s weight, shape and simplicity.  The breakdown is like this:
    • The Weight of a typeface is about the thickness. We’ll need sufficient space to reveal the image below. So, Display and Slab fonts will work well for this purpose.
    • The design and shape of the text will be amplified because we are going to enlarge it significantly for this effect. So, here we will want to use something attractive, perhaps with elegant serifs or italics, even.
    • We also want to use a typeface that has clean edges and is completely filled. Sketchy brush strokes and outlined text can get a bit messy.

(Part 2)

  • I’m going to work with this lovely script font called “Bready”, which answers all of our considerations. This font can be downloaded for free from many font sites if you would like to use it to follow along.  I found it at


  1. Our third step is to make a picture frame from the text. We’ll do this step in three parts.

(Part 1)

  • Let’s return to our InDesign document, and click onto Page 2.
  • We’ll select the Type Tool (T) from the Tools panel and drag to create a large text frame that extends across the entire page, from the left margin to the right margin.
  • Type a letter into into the frame, and set the Font to Bready Regular, with the Size at 692 pt.  I’m using the letter “F” for my example.
  • We will leave the text color set to the default [Black] for now.

(Part 2)

  • Select the text frame using the Selection Tool, click on the Type drop down menu, and select Create Outlines.  The text frame will change slightly; the text characters have now been converted into a vector shape.

(Part 3)

  • With the text outlines still selected, we’ll now click on File> Place.
  • Now here we will experiment with filling our text with images. We’ll want a photo that’s going to provide enough contrast depending if we’re setting the text on a light or dark background.
  • I’ve experimented with an image of some lovely Fall foliage, before finally deciding on a beautiful mountain scene.
  • We can adjust the size of the image inside the text by double-clicking to select the image directly, and then hold Shift and drag one of the corners to resize it as necessary. To fit as much of the image as possible in the text, we can click the Fill Frame Proportionally button from the workspace control panel.
  • One last touch to ensure that no color bleeds through on the edges of the letters, we will want to set the Fill of the shape to [None], Window > Color > Swatches.



And that is all there is to it! A very easy way to add a touch of visual drama to your typography layouts!

Use this simple technique to build up dynamic, professional-standard design layouts, just like the example magazine spread below.

Thanks for stopping by Dina’s Desktop!  Come back again soon.

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