Troubleshooting Forms

On rare occasions we hear about problems people are having with our PDF forms. We want our PDFs to be as broadly functional as possible, so we research these issues and make adjustments when we think it will help. Sometimes we're not able to reproduce the problem, or we're not given enough of a description to reproduce it, and that makes diagnosis and prevention more difficult.

Here are our suggestions for resolving various PDF issues.  We'll try to keep this page updated as we hear about different issues and solutions.

Issue:  PDF comes up as blank

We've seen it happen, sporadically, and with PDFs from all kinds of websites.  You click a link in an email message or on a web page and instead of showing you the PDF file, your browser shows an empty white page.

This seems to happen primarily with a combination of Firefox and not-quite-current Adobe Acrobat.  Download the most recent versions of your browser and Adobe Acrobat Reader and the problem pretty much disappears.

Issue:  PDF form shows black boxes where headings should be

For some students these forms print with black rectangles obscuring headings.  If this happens to you, we will accept your form that way. We'd also appreciate it if you'd help us diagnose the problem by sending your answers to the following 4 questions to Erin PasekaVersion numbers are important!

  1. Which PDF(s) are you seeing black boxes on?
  2. Which operating system and version are you using? (e.g., Mac OS 10.6, Windows 7 SP 1)
  3. With what software are you viewing/printing the PDF?
    • Web browser, please specify (e.g., Firefox 7, Internet Explorer 8)
    • Other, please specify (e.g., Preview, Acrobat 8 Pro, Acrobat Reader X)
  4. Do the black boxes appear on your screen or only on paper, when printed?

Issue:  PDF form shows colored boxes or empty space where data had been entered and saved

Suggestion: If you're having this problem in Preview (on a Mac), try opening the file with Acrobat or Acrobat Reader instead.