How to Create a Fillable PDF Certificate?

How to create a fillable PDF certificate? It’s a question that might seem daunting at first, but with the right tools and a bit of help, it’s easier than you think. This article will walk you through simple steps to create professional-looking PDFs effortlessly and provide a detailed comparison table between Certifier and Adobe Acrobat. Find out which tool suits your needs best. Here we go!

How to Create a Fillable PDF Certificate? cover image


Ola Kozielska


Aksen Semak

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Verifier Expert

June 19, 2024

16 min read

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Imagine generating PDF certificates for hundreds of recipients with a few clicks. No more tedious data entry.

Where’s the trick? Simply put in the right placeholders in the certificate template, and the data will be filled out automatically.

Read on to see how to create fillable PDF templates that go with a link that makes them a safer version of usual PDF documents.

PS. That’s not all. We’ll also explore how Adobe Acrobat Pro compares to Certifier.

👋 Would you like to learn more about PDF certificates before you create a fillable PDF certificate? Read our article about what is a PDF certificate.

01 Choose the template and sign up for Certifier

The first step in creating fillable PDF certificates in bulk is to choose an appropriate template. We recommend using our pre-designed templates because creating one from scratch can be quite tedious. Certifier offers thousands of certification template PDF for every occasion – just go to the Certifier library and find something for yourself.

Filtering the PDF certificate templates library through categories.

🔎 Tip: Filter the certification PDF options to narrow down choices. You can find many different categories like certificates of recognition, training, course, and more!

Then, once you have chosen a suitable free editable certificate template, you can click the Edit this template button which leads you directly to the Certifier built-in editor where you can modify the template as you see fit. Sign up for a forever free account right now!

Create and Send Digital Credentials
Take your digital certificate making to the next level.

02 Adjust the PDF certificate

Certifier's editor is a creative powerhouse that lets you unleash your imagination on artistic certificate design templates. With drag-and-drop ease and support for multiple file formats, the customization possibilities are endless.

Add or remove elements, change colors, and do whatever is needed to make the template yours. Remember to upload the company’s logo. It’s one of the most vital things to make the certificate authentic. Go to the Elements tab on the left-hand menu and choose the Upload Image button.

Adjusting the certification template pdf within the Certifier editor.

What else can you do to customize the certification template PDF and make it exceptional?

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Change the color scheme or choose a background that matches your brand or event theme.

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Play with a vast font library and adjust text styles (size, color, etc.) for a unique, visually striking look (stick to 2-3 fonts for a professional look, no more!).

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Position elements like logos, graphics, and text boxes so that they create a balanced, eye-catching layout, that will not be overstuffed.

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Add certificate wording that suits well to your brand's tone of voice.

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Add QR codes for an extra verification layer – stakeholders can scan for authenticity.

03 Add dynamic attributes

The feature that makes it possible to create a fillable PDF certificate (and distinguish it from the PDF certificates that need to be changed manually) are dynamic attributes.

Certifier's dynamic attributes are like blank spots that the tool fills in automatically with the appropriate data. If you need to make a lot of certificates PDF, you just put these blank spots in the certificate template. Then, you upload all recipients’ information once (e.g., via the spreadsheet), and the tool fills in the placeholders on each certificate for you, saving time and effort.

Here's how dynamic attributes help you create a fillable pdf certificate (don’t worry, we'll take you through this exact process further in this tutorial):

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You place specific attribute tags (e.g., [], [certificate.uuid]) within your certificate template design.

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When issuing certificates, you upload a spreadsheet containing recipient data like names, emails, grades, etc.

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Certifier automatically replaces the attribute tags with the corresponding data from the spreadsheet for each recipient.

So, to add the dynamic attributes to your template, go to the Attributes tab. 

Adding dynamic attributes to the certification template pdf.

Certifier offers two types of dynamic attributes:

01 Default attributes (that you can enable by clicking the blue Use button), e.g.

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[] - Populates with the date the certificate is issued

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[] - Unique ID for the credential

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[] - Certificate expiration date of the credential (if set)

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[credential.uuid] - Unique identifier for the credential

02 Custom attributes

You can create custom attribute tags (e.g., [recipient.grade], [course.instructor]) to insert any specific data from your spreadsheet. Click on the Add Custom Attribute button to include unique identifiers, which simplify tracking and managing issued certificates.

With dynamic attributes, you eliminate the need to manually edit individual certificates and save significant time and effort, especially when issuing large batches of PDF certificates. This way, you keep your certification PDFs always up-to-date, accurate, and professionally consistent.

04 Map out the attributes with the data

It is very important to connect the attributes with the right data so that the certificates are correct and unique. Certifier makes this easy by letting you upload a spreadsheet with information about the recipients (you can also add the data manually but why bother if you don't have to).

Before you start, make the double-check of the spreadsheet (you can also use our spreadsheet template):

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Open your spreadsheet with recipient information (e.g., name, email, grade, course details).

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Identify the columns that contain the data you want to include in your certificates.

So once you save the certification template PDF for the first time, it will trigger the pop-up window to upload the recipients’ data. If it’s not your first attempt, go to the Credentials tab and upload the data from there.

Uploading recipient data to create training certificate format pdf in bulk.

After uploading the data, you need to map out each attribute you want to include with the corresponding column in your spreadsheet.

For example:

Map [] to the column containing recipient names.

Map [course.title] to the column with course titles.

Map [grade.score] to the column with numerical grades or scores.

✋ Tip: If you don't want to use automatic email distribution, you can simply exclude the "email address" column from the mapping process by clicking Skip this column.

Skipping the column during the mapping process to create fillable PDF certificates without sending them out to emails.

After you've mapped out the attributes, Certifier will add the right information to each certificate automatically when it's issued. This not only saves time, but it also makes sure that all certificates are generated with no errors or typos.

Click Preview Before Publishing to check whether the PDF certificates look as they should. If so, send certificates right to the recipients’ inboxes!

💡 Good to know: Certifier allows you to edit and update issued PDF certificates even after they have been distributed. Digital certificates will reflect changes automatically, with no need to resend them again.

05 Set up the downloading view

Each recipient will get an email with the link to the digital wallet. From there, they can download the certificate to PDF, share it on social media, verify its authenticity, or download more PDF documents that you incorporate. It’s the safer option than usual PDF document!

Certifier lets you change a few key parts of this downloading view, so you can make the experience unique for your recipients while still keeping a professional, brand-like look.

Downloading the PDF certification template from the digital wallet.

Here’s what you can do with the digital wallet:

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Customize the Call-to-Action (CTA) button. You can change the CTA button to align with your specific needs, so instead of “Share the credential,” you can set up the “Download credential” button. 

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Add descriptions and skill tags. Customize the group description that appears on the downloading view. You can also provide context or instructions for your recipients.

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Incorporate your branding. Upload your organization's logo or branding elements, which will be prominently displayed above the downloading view.

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Put social share buttons. Don’t resign from buttons for sharing on platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook, and X. They enable your recipients to easily share their credentials and help you get more reach!

06 Export to PDF

Certifier allows recipients to download certificates directly from their digital wallets. But that’s not all. It also simplifies exporting certificates as PDFs in bulk for issuers.

To get started, navigate to the Credentials tab in your Certifier dashboard and select the certificate you want to export.

For individual exports, you can click on the recipient and then you get a preview of PDF certificate ready to download.

Exporting the PDF certificate template from the Certifier dashboard.

Click the Export button in the top-right corner and select PDF to initiate the export process.

Downloading PDF certification template within the Certifier builder.

📥 Please note: You can also export certificates as a CSV file that contains all the PDF certificate details like recipients’ names, email addresses, links to digital wallet, and some engagement metrics.

For bulk exports, select multiple certificates, use the Filter feature to select specific groups if needed, and click Export to receive a ZIP file containing all selected certificates.

Checking the chosen certificates to export PDF certification formats in bulk.

07 Track the performance

Certifier provides powerful analytics capabilities that allow you to track the performance and engagement of the PDF certificates online you've issued.

You can gain valuable insights into how many recipients downloaded their certificates in PDF, shared them on social media, or even opened the email containing the certificate link.

Analytics dashboard with Downloads as PDF metric.

Navigate to the Analytics tab in your Certifier dashboard. Under the Engagement and Marketing Insights section, you'll find several metrics that provide an overview of how your certificates are performing (e.g., credentials opened, credentials engaged)You can further filter these metrics by date range or recipient group to gain more specific insights.

Additionally, you can export these reports as CSV or PDF ZIP files for further analysis or sharing with stakeholders.

Certifier also provides detailed status reports that break down the performance of each individual certificate in the Credentials tab. You can view whether the recipient share the credential, open it, or even get notified if the email was bounced. 

If you keep track of how your PDF certificates are used, you can find ways to make them work better and make your strategy for distributing certificates even better. 

📈 Consider this: If you see that a certain certificate is not being downloaded very often, you might want to look at your communication or distribution channels again. Alternatively, high social engagement could indicate an opportunity to leverage social media more effectively for promoting your credentials.

If the engagement is low, the practical step is to follow-up. Luckily, Certifier has a resend function that reminds recipients of their certificates. You can do it in one click in your Credentials tab.

Resending emails feature to follow-up people who didn't open PDF certificates.

Video tutorial on how to create fillable PDF certificates

Eager to learn more about mass-generating PDF certificates? Lucky you, because we’ve got something special. In this video, you will learn how to create a fillable PDF certificate at scale using just one online app – Certifier.

The features you need to create fillable PDF certificates

To create fillable PDF certificates, you need features that streamline design, personalization, and distribution. They’ll just make your life easier. What should you look for and pay attention to?

Dynamic attributes

Dynamic attributes serve as placeholders that can be automatically filled with recipient data from a spreadsheet or database. You can create personalized certificates in bulk, each containing unique information like the recipient's name, course title, grade, or any other attribute you choose. Set these up to effortlessly generate unique certificates for each recipient – no manual entry needed.

User-friendly design builder

You want to create a PDF certification template once and then forget about changing it over and over again. Look for a drag-and-drop editor to easily customize your certificates. Adjust fonts, incorporate branding elements, and change layouts to align with your organization’s identity. Such a solution simplifies design so you can focus on delivering quality instead.

Bulk generation and distribution

Imagine creating and distributing hundreds of certificates by hand. It would take you several days even to send all the emails to the correct recipients. A feature for generating and sending hundreds or thousands of personalized PDF certificates in bulk is super helpful. Compared to manual creation and distribution, this feature speeds up the process and saves time and effort.

Exporting certificate data

Keeping data clean is extremely important. Your solution should have a feature that allows the export of certificate data, such as recipient information and certificate details (to Excel or other formats). It can later be used for keeping records, analyzing data, and integrating with other software.

QR codes

It’s nice to receive a certificate. It’s even nicer to get one that’s verifiable. Adding QR codes to your certificates gives an extra layer of security and verification. These QR codes can link to the recipient's digital wallet, where viewers can verify the authenticity of the certificate (or to a custom URL hosting the certificate information).

Editing and updating capabilities

Everyone makes mistakes. Even after distributing certificates, you should be able to make changes or corrections anytime. Plus points for digital PDF certificates – any updates should be reflected automatically without needing to resend or redistribute.

PDF certificate making in Adobe Acrobat

Adobe Acrobat is a popular choice when it comes to creating fillable PDF certificates. The process is quite straightforward, but Adobe Acrobat is not a professional certification tool. It includes the usage of additional third-party tools and has no functionality when it comes to sending certificates in bulk.

If you still decide to choose it, here’s how to create a fillable PDF certificate in Adobe Acrobat:

01 Create the base design of your PDF certificate in an image editing software like Canva or Adobe Illustrator. Or, you can use Adobe’s template library. 

02 Open Adobe Acrobat and go to Tools > Prepare Form.

03 Select the PDF file of your certificate design and click Start to open it in Form Editing mode.

04 Add form fields to the PDF certificate template. Use the form field tools in the toolbar to add text fields for recipient information (name, score, date, etc.) 

05 Test and preview the form by clicking the Preview button.

06 Once satisfied with the design and form fields, save the file as a PDF.

As you can see, the process is not as unified and does involve extra steps.

🚨 It's important to note that while Adobe Acrobat allows you to create certificate templates with form fields, it lacks some specialized features for certificate PDF management. You can create the certificate template PDF there, but you will not be able to distribute or manage the credentials further.

Why should you create a fillable PDF certificate without Adobe Acrobat?

To sum it all up – when it comes to creating certificates, Adobe Acrobat may not be the ideal choice. The tool doesn’t provide many options, and it’s not suitable for complex certification programs. 

What’s more, PDF certificate lacks security, you need to send them one by one, and recipients cannot interact with them in any way. That’s why, we put so much emphasis on sending PDF certificates via link to the digital wallet. This makes them safer and prevents unauthorized modifications.

Here are some more reasons why not to create a fillable certificate with the PDF tool:

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Acrobat is a general-purpose PDF editing software, not a specialized platform for certificate creation and management.

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It lacks dedicated features for bulk issuance, distribution, and tracking of certificates.

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It’s hard to integrate certificate data from learning management systems (LMS) or spreadsheets. 

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It can be time-consuming and complex to set up digital signatures in Acrobat.

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Data exports to Excel or other formats may require extra steps.

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It takes multiple steps to create a certificate in Acrobat, including designing another software and importing it.

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The learning curve for creating interactive and dynamic PDF certificate templates can be steep.

Certifier vs Adobe Acrobat for PDF certificates [comparison table]

Here's how Certifier does in this matchup. If you consider both options, this comparison table should help you clear all doubts.

Comparison table Certifier certificate maker vs. Adobe Acrobat for fillable PDF certificates.

Here’s the best option for PDF certificates

Creating professional, personalized fillable PDF certificates has never been more efficient. You can speed up the whole certification process and save time and money by using the right tools. Leverage Certifier’s dynamic attributes, user-friendly design builder, and bulk generation capabilities to create visually stunning PDF certificates that reflect your brand's quality.

Take the first step towards creating certification PDF that truly stand out and leave a lasting impression on your recipients. Sign up for Certifier!

FAQ on how to create a fillable PDF certificate

You have questions, we have answers. Here are some frequently asked questions about creating fillable PDF certificates.

Ola Kozielska avatar

Ola Kozielska

Content designer. At Certifier, Ola crafts user-friendly content that makes complex information easy to grasp.

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