You may sometimes notice that FormMagic converts Arial to Helvetica, and sometimes it doesn’t. In this blog post, I will try to explain what’s going on and how to get predictable results.

FormMagic can create regular text fields, and rich-text fields. These are two separate things in Acrobat.

If all the text in a text field in InDesign is formatted in the same way (including all trailing spaces and paragraph returns), FormMagic will turn that into a regular text field.

If any of the text (even a white space at the end of the text) is formatted differently in InDesign (say all the text is Arial Bold, and the space at the end is Arial Regular), then FormMagic has to create a rich text field.

When FormMagic creates rich-text fields, it uses the exact fonts that were applied in InDesign, without any substitutions.

But when FormMagic creates a simple text field, it will sometimes substitute some fonts. Arial is converted to Helvetica. Times New Roman is converted to Times. Courier New is converted to Courier.

The reason for these substitutions is that Acrobat (even Adobe Reader) always comes with these fonts (Helvetica, Times, Courier). So by converting to that, FormMagic ensures that the reader of the PDF will see very similar fonts to those intended by the designer.

On the other hand, without the substitution, the reader may not see what the designer expects. Although usually, with FormMagic, the end-user viewing your PDF in Adobe Reader will be able to fill in the form using the fonts you specified (even if they do not have them installed on their computer), some fonts do not allow embedding.

So, if you want to force FormMagic to stick to Arial and not convert it to Helvetica, make sure that every text field becomes a rich text field. Do this by (for instance) adding a white space at the end of the placeholder text you’re using in InDesign, and format that white space to something slightly different from the rest of the text (for instance, if all the text is bold, make the space regular).