Create a Fill-In Form in Microsoft Word


Basic rules: Create the form using the forms toolbar. Protect it. Here's the details...

First, you need the Forms toolbar. Turn it on by going to View Toolbars Forms. Here's the Forms toolbar, let's get to know it better.

I have never used the tables or frame tools here, so I don't explain them. However, I do strongly recommend tables to create forms whenever your forms are laid out in "boxes".

From left to right, here's the buttons we're reviewing. The options dialog boxes are accessed by double-clicking the field, or by hitting the Form Field Options button.

Text Form Field

This inserts a field designed for text entry. You can format it for other things by double-clicking it, or by hitting the Form Field Options icon. Change the type drop-down to a desired field type, such as a number or date. You can set a maximum number of characters to be entered for items like account numbers. You can choose Date as the type, and change the Text format to read Sunday, June 19, 2005 instead of 6/19/2005.

You can also set a bookmark name here. Leave it as the default Text# or change it to something meaningful, such as CoName. Then, when you later want the Company name to appear again without making the user type it again, you can create a reference to the bookmark. If you plan to use the values entered in these text form fields later in calculations, please check the Calculate on exit box! Doing so makes your calculation field update as the values on which it is dependent are entered.

Check Box Form Field

I don't think I've ever checked these options out before, but here they are. Unfortunately, checkboxes don't work like option buttons do. If you place multiple checkboxes, then multiple checkboxes can be chosen. If you want only one checkbox to be chosen, you need Office VBA: Macros You Can Use Today, which contains a macro by Cindy Meister that you can use, or you need to use Option buttons from the Control Toolbox. Either option requires macro code.

Drop-Down Form Field

Drop-Downs are very cool and extremely easy to make. The only drawback is that you're limited to 25 entries, so you can't use it for days of the month or to list the US states.

Tip: To defeat the 25-item limit, try separating your items into groups, such as east and west or 1 to 7, 7 to 14, etc., or see this Microsoft KB Entry

Tip: If you don't want an item chosen by default (or perhaps you want your form to be "blank" for printing), enter spaces in the Drop-down item box to create a "blank" item, just make sure you move it to the top.

Protect the Form

This button is used to test your form while you create it. Protect the form to see how your form fields will work. Unprotect to continue building your form.

Final Protection

You don't have to use it, but I recommend it. When your form is completely built and you're ready to distribute it, choose Tools Protect Document from the menu to bring up the Protect Document task pane. Choose Editing restrictions, and Filling in forms.

You may only want to protect certain areas of your document. Once you're done, hit the Yes, Start Enforcing Protection button and (we highly recommend) enter a password.

More Tips

  • For best results, create your forms in tables. Place the label in one cell and the form field in another cell next to it.

  • To restrict entry to a certain amount of space, insert a one-row, one-column table, and set the row height to "Exactly".