Overtype Multipage pdf Form

They say there are two certainties in life, death and taxes. There’s another one, the tax form is always hard to fill in.

I often overtype pdf forms that are not fillable in a graphics package with variable results. I thought I’d throw a challenge to the community to see what can be done in LibreOffice with this 12 page form: https://www.ato.gov.au/uploadedFiles/Content/IND/Downloads/Tax-return-for-individuals-2022.pdf

At 100% the form works well with 12pt Liberation Mono using Character spacing of 7pt.

A New Snap Object of 0.1 x 0.1cm point works well with Snap to Grid and Snap to Page Margins. It is worth increasing the left margin by 0.1 or 0.05cm depending on which application is used.

It would be really nice if the input character boxes were clickable, at least the first one. An online conversion would be acceptable.

Rendering is poor in Draw.



If I were you, I would visit the website of your tax authority. And I am sure that you will find fillable forms there.

If your call for a 12-page challenge is intended to get someone to do the work for you, I personally have little hope that someone will respond.

If you have a specific question, feel free to get back here.

I wish you much success!

Create a fillable form in Writer

English documentation


In a word, no. Professional tax agents have systems that avoid the forms, there are systems that avoid some of the forms but the rest are this old-style non-fillable form.

That would be a waste of time because I often overtype pdf forms, and this is only one type of form. I imagine many people overtype non-fillable forms and I’m seeking discussion on the process.

I think that’s the wrong approach:

  1. The form exists, there is no opportunity to redesign it in Writer
  2. Intention is to fill in the form, not create fields (maybe that will come)

btw, I deliberately didn’t specify the app because I thought there might be a solution with Draw I couldn’t see.

The accepted approach seems to be open the document up and draw virtual input boxes over the document then save them as a fillable pdf. The tools I’ve seen are all fairly arbitrary freehand drawing tools and the form has well-defined data entry areas which should be used. Anyway, I don’t see the need for a form, just the ability to overtype it.

As I see it:
I like that Writer works well with multipage documents and character spacing is an important feature. It doesn’t automatically insert multipage pdfs as background and it’s not a drawing tool but Text boxes are close enough.

  1. Break pdf into separate images
  2. In Writer create a new page for each image and insert the image in page at 100%
  3. Set up margin and snapping
  4. Insert text boxes at the required locations

Some observations:

  1. It’s fiddly adding each background image page, probably a macro task
  2. Despite putting the image in the background, clicking the page to add a text box selects the image
  3. It would be nice to click [snap] a location and have a Text box just grow to the correct size using the required character style

Any comments on the workflow?

You need to have the same fonts. If they are not available and LibreOffice’s substitution doesn’t look good then you need to create your own substitution table. Acrobat Reader lists all the fonts in File > Properties > Fonts. The Font substitution table is in Tools > Options > LibreOffice > Fonts. There are a number of different weights of font so Liberation might not be best choice.

Now to the issue of the form itself. Why don’t you just open it in Adobe Reader, click Fill and Sign and fill it in?

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That’s a bit disappointing given I only want to use the existing form with embedded font subsets. Draw doesn’t seem to attach any functionality to the input boxes either.

Bugger, thank you for pointing that out. I haven’t used Acrobat reader since they started including paid features and I’ve filled in heaps of forms. There must be something different about this one. Interestingly the multibox inputs highlight and fill the locations precisely whereas the single box inputs are just click and fill anywhere, in box or not.
Anyway, this question is broader that this example form.

Looks like tdf#101220. You could CC yourself in on that to show that you are interested but without adding unnecessary “me too” comments.

[EDIT] This bug might be relevant too Bug 143095 - Font handling for PDF import filters does not do enough to match the font PS names in the PDF against what often are locally installed fonts