Create a PDF document template

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This page describes how to create your own document-generation module (for proposals, invoices, etc...) The tutorial uses Commercial Proposals as an example but the same process is used for any type of document.

Building a PDF template requires some PHP knowledge. An ODT template does not require PHP knowledge. To build an ODT template, see this page Create an ODT document template.


  • Dolibarr: 3.0+
  • Knowledge in PHP development

Find a document template that is the closest to your requirements

You may review the existing templates by going to the module setup area, the Commercial Proposals setup in this case, and then clicking on the "preview" logo. Choose one that is the best match to your needs. In this example, we will use the template "azur" that corresponds to the file pdf_propale_azur.modules.php

All document models are in htdocs/core/modules, in subdirectories, for example propale for commercial proposals facture for invoices commandes for orders, etc... and finally doc or pdf. For instance, a customized proposal template will be located in ...core/modules/propale/doc/

Create a new template

For an existing module

Do not modify an existing template. Copy the file of the template used as example into a new name in same directory than your example and edit it to change content. For this example, we will call our new template 'mycompanyblue', based on the existing template 'azur':

  • Copy and paste file pdf_propale_azur.modules.php
  • Rename the copy as pdf_propale_mycompanyblue.modules.php
  • Edit and make the following changes in the code:
  1. Rename 'Class pdf_propale_azur { ' to 'Class pdf_propale_mycompanyblue { '
  2. Rename constant $this->name to match your new template name. For example for 'azur' template, change line '$this->name = "azur";' to '$this->name = "mycompanyblue";'.
  3. Save file. Now the template will be available in the list of models in Dolibarr.

Test this model (see previous section) before going further.

Add into table llx_document_model the new document template that you have created.

For a new module

Just use the Module Builder from v12.0 to create your module. When entering the name of a new object to create, you can also check a checkbox to say that you want to manage documents for such new object. In such a case, two templates will be automatically generated (one ODT template and one PDF template).

The templates will be generated with path:

  • custom/mymodule/core/modules/doc/pdf_standard_myobject.class.php
  • custom/mymodule/core/modules/doc/doc_generic_myobject_odt.class.php

Customize content of your new template

Customize the new template:

In file pdf_propale_mycompanyblue.modules.php, look for the function '_pagehead()' function. It is the function that manages the display of the header.

Look for the '_pagefooter()' function. It is the function that manages the display of the footer.

Look for the 'write_file()' function. It is the function that manages the display of the body of PDF.

Library for PDF manipulation

The library used to create PDF documents in PHP is called FPDF and can be found in htdocs/includes/tcpdf/tcpdf.class.php (or htdocs/includes/tecnickcom/tcpdf/tcpdf.class.php). This class contains the methods used to generate different parts of documents.

Templates instantiate the FPDF class and use its methods combined with the specific data of the invoice, order etc.

We can generally find the following calls into templates that generate PDF documents:

  • $pdf->SetFont() - Define the font to use for the text
  • $pdf->SetXY() - Define position (X,Y) for next text that will be output onto page
  • $pdf->MultiCell() - Draw a box containing text. Used to output any text
  • $pdf->GetY() - Return current Y position
  • $pdf->SetDrawColor() - Set the color to use for new text to write - ie black (0,0,0) or white (255,255,255)
  • $pdf->Rect() - Draw a rectangle whose top left corner coordinates are defined by two first parameters and bottom right corner is defined by two following parameters that are relative values

Frame of scripts

The PHP script used for generating PDF documents had the following methods (taking as example the model "crabe") inside the class with the model's name:

  • pdf_crabe() - Creator of the object pdf
  • write_pdf_file() - General method for generating the file. This method calls all the following ones after initializing some variables
  • _pagehead() - Method for drawing the heading of the document, including in general the logo, the title of the document (and the date) as well as the frames of the issuer and the addressee of the document
  • _tableau() - Method for drawing the details table (products, services,...)
  • _tableau_info() - Method for drawing the table containing information list present in the bill
  • _tableau_tot() - Method for drawing table of Totals
  • _tableau_versement() - Method for drawing table of payment rules
  • _pagefoot() - Method for drawing bottom of the page

Examples of customization

  • Add following instructions
$pdf->Image('\www\htdocs\dolibarr\document\societe\logo.jpg', 10, 5, 60.00);

With this example: 10=abscissa, 5=ordinate, 60=width of logo

  • If the logo is on or outside existing text, remove existing text by commenting the code that outputs the text or by changing its position.

Insert text

Most common function to use

$pdf->setX(float a); // set current x position
$pdf->setY(float b); // set current y position
$pdf->setXY(float a,float b); // fixe les positions x et y courantes
$pdf->SetTextColor(0,0,200); // fixe la couleur du texte
$pdf->SetFont('Arial','B',14); // fixe la police, le type ( 'B' pour gras, 'I' pour italique, '' pour normal,...)
$pdf->MultiCell(60, 8, 'Mon texte", 0, 'L'); // imprime 'Mon texte' avec saut de ligne

Note: Origin for setXY functions are the top left corner of page.

Add a PDF Annotation (comment)

Left side of the page around the middle:

$pdf->Annotation(102, 202, 10, 10, "this is the comment text", array('Subtype'=>'Text', 'Name' => 'Comment', 'T' => 'this is comment author', 'Subj' => 'this is comment title', 'C' => array(255, 255, 0)));

Right side of the page around the middle:

$pdf->Annotation(202, 102, 10, 10, "this is the comment text", array('Subtype'=>'Text', 'Name' => 'Comment', 'T' => 'this is comment author', 'Subj' => 'this is comment title', 'C' => array(255, 255, 0)));

Add Complementary Attribute (extrafiled)

A dedicated page give you some advises how to integrate complementary attributes (extrafields) into PDF models of Dolibarr Add Extrafields on PDF Models

More information

Activate your new model

In page Home => Setup => Modules =>

  • activate your module
  • eventually, set it as the default model.


Q: My PDF template doesn't understand foreign characters, it outputs them as ???

This is probably a font problem, the current font used for generating the PDF cannot handle the foreign characters you are trying to print. So just try to use another font.

You will find the fonts used by Dolibarr to print PDF inside your Dolibarr folder.../includes/tecnickcom/tcpdf/fonts/

To change the font used for generating PDF, you need to edit the 'main.lang' file of the language you are using (you'll find the file in your Dolibarr.../langs/en_US/main.lang for instance if you use English)

  • Edit the main.lang file
  • Locate the constant FONTFORPDF at the beginning of the file and change the value to FONTFORPDF=dejavusans for instance if you want to use dejavusans. Please note that sometimes FONTFORPDF may be missing, in this case you should add it at the beginning of the file.
  • Save the file and try again to generate your PDF.

If you are unlucky, you can try with more fonts, just go to the TCPDF website and download the latest zip package. Then extract only the 'fonts' folder from the zip. Then copy the files in your Dolibarr installation .../includes/tecnickcom/tcpdf/fonts/ so you will get more fonts to play with.

Also, please make a backup of your files modification.

Alternative if this doesn't work: make sure the Translation class is correctly instantiated and loaded with the correct language inside your PDF templates (stored inside the $langs or $outputlangs variable).

Thanks to Humphrey for the tip.