Can I write 'on the dotted line' ?

I have a form which was produced from a pdf by third party software which converted it to word format.
and I am working on it with libre writer.

The original pdf was not interactive. It was meant merely to be printed out.

So it has dotted lines where the data is supposed to be handwritten.

If I try to complete the form online, in writer, then the dots get obliterated.

Is there some way I can write my text ‘on the dotted line’ just like we do by hand?

So’s the completed form mimics the hard copy version… dotted line and text written on them?

There are a couple of ways.

  • Use a form field
  • Use a table setup
  • Use a tab stop with dots, combined with dotted underline

The tab stop is quick and easy to set up, but also easy to mess up with, so I recommend you only use it for your own forms, not for redistribution.

For most uses I prefer the table. Good control of layout and compatible with other apps.

Form field is the only solution that works if you want to export to fillable pdf.

Sample document.

You need some options from menu View - Toolbars to work with form fields:

  • Use the Form controls toolbar to insert a form field.
  • Form design toolbar has settings to toggle form design/-use modes, and in which mode the file will open.
  • Right click the input field to access properties.
    You can “flatten” the field design. I kept the “3D” beveled edge so you see where the field is.

When you export the sample to pdf, only the form field will work as requested.

If you want to fill the PDF in the Draw application, and the “dotted line” is some dot (…) characters really, then the answer is: you can not write on them . You must delete some dot characters to enter other characters in the line (or you can insert your text inside the dot characters, but it will increase the length of the text.

But you can use the UNDERLINED character property instead of the dot characters in the Draw application (and you can use a DOTTED underline). Create an object style with dotted underline property for the text, and apply it to the relevant text labels. (If the “description” part and the “value” part is located in one text label, the solution with one Style will not work: because the whole label will be underlined. And it is a hard job to recreate all of the labels (split them to individual description/value parts) in a PDF type document.)

If you want to fill the PDF in a PDF reader software, then use keme’s solution.

Assuming you are working with Writer:

  • Choose menu Format - Character… - Font Effects tab, Underlining: Dotted, or Dotted (Bold), OK, and write your data.


  • Write your data, select it and choose menu Format - Character… - Font Effects tab, Underlining: Dotted, OK.

By adjusting the data font size you can achieve a dots spacing similar to the original document. Also could try with Scale width or Character spacing (choose menu Format - Character… - Position tab).

Tested with LibreOffice (x86); OS: Windows 6.1.


If you want the new text to be centered, use two tabstops with bold underline (no tab fill character).

If you want the new text to be left aligned, remove the centered tab stop, and leave one underlined space at the left of the tab.

See sample file.

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Press edit below your question if you want to add more information; also can comment an answer.

Check the mark (Correct answer mark) to the left of the answer that solves your question.

I’ll comment here rather than ‘add answer’ because I don’t have the answer and this is the most recent post. right thing to do?

I tried the format character thing and it didn’t seem to work. I just got text inserting in the line of dots and pushing them along to the right - making the line of text longer - and having nothing under the actual new text at all.

I haven’t tried the other things. I think they’re aimed at fillable pdf? I’m not looking for that. Though perhaps I should, but one thing at a time.

I should have uploaded the doc, it’s not private or anything. I didn’t think of it. I think we have to upload somewhere else and then provide a link? I’ve put it on scribd, first thing I found.


Pressing Insert to change to Overwrite mode¹ would help a bit. But if the font is not monospaced, each m will occupy the space of three dots but will overwrite only one. So, you will need to delete extra dots.

¹ You also could click in the status bar to the right of the language.

@abrogard, You can attach a document by editing your question, and using the paperclip that show above.