How to create fillable forms in Microsoft Word

 May 13, 2014

When you create a form in Microsoft Word to capture information that is to be entered by another user, a few problems may arise. The problem that occurs will depend on how you created the lines in your form. The main problem is that the blank line that you put as a place holder for them to fill in, moves and then in turn, wraps over to the next line, as seen in the image below.

How to create fillable forms in Microsoft Word

Another common problem is that if you use tab stops with leader tabs to create the lines in the form, then the user can potentially change the form and the lines will disappear like this:

How to create fillable forms in Microsoft Word

You should aim to create a form whereby users can fill in their information without it affecting the spacing or lines of the original document. This can be achieved by using form controls, which allow you to lock the other areas of the form and only allows users to fill in the blanks where you want them to. PART 1: Creating a form The best way to set this up is use a table structure. Try this out yourself by following the steps below.
  1. In your Word document, go to the 'Insert' tab and select the 'Table' drop down arrow. In a generic form, you can usually have two fields on the same line so for this example, choose 4 columns and 4 rows.
  2. Type the name of the field for the first item in the top left cell. For example, if you were creating an enrolment form, you first field may be 'First Name.'
  3. On your keyboard, click 'Tab' twice to leave a blank cell and then type 'Last Name' in the third column. This should leave the next cell to its right blank.
  4. In the second row type 'Address.' I recommend that you select the rest of the cells in that row and merge it to create more space for this field. To do this, highlight the empty cells, right-click and select 'Merge Cells.'
  5. Similarly to step 2 and 3, add 'Suburb' and 'Post Code' in the third row.
  6. Again, add 'Course Date' and 'Course Name' in the forth row as above. Your table should now look somewhat like this: How to create fillable forms in Microsoft Word
PART 2: Customising and formatting a form Now that the table is set up, you'll need to use the Developer tab to add in the controlled fields.
  1. If you haven't used the 'Developer' tab before, you'll have to add this. To do this, go to 'Options' under the 'File' tab. Under the 'Customise Ribbon' section, you need to tick the box next to Developer on the right side. You should now see an extra tab in the ribbon. Once you click this, you will be using the 'Controls Group.'
  2. For the first blank to the right of the first name field, you will need to add a plain text field. Click in the cell where you want the field to be and in the Controls group, click on the second button in the top row. This button is a thin black outline of the letters 'Aa.'
  3. Repeat step 2 for the blanks next to last name, address, suburb and postcode.
  4. For the course date, you will need to use the date picker option. This is the first button in the third row of the Controls group, which has a little calendar grid icon.
  5. For the course name, use the drop-down list option for consistency and to avoid any typos. The drop-down option is the third button of the second row. Your table should look somewhat like the below.

    How to create fillable forms in Microsoft Word
  6. To customise the options in the drop-down list for the 'Course Name' field, click on drop-down field you have created and then select the 'Properties' button in the Controls group. Type in as many items as you need and click OK.How to create fillable forms in Microsoft Word
  7. If you want to make your table less obvious, you can remove the borders of the table. To do this, select the table and under the 'Design' tab, click on 'No borders' in the 'Table Styles.'How to create fillable forms in Microsoft Word
Restricting your form If, at this point, you want to protect the form so that no one can change or delete the field labels, click on the 'Restrict Editing' button under the 'Protect Document' group in the Developer tab. This will open up the 'Restrict Formatting and Editing' panel on the right. You must protect your form in order for all the fields to work. Put a tick in the box at number 2 to 'Allow only this type of editing' in the document. Choose 'Filling in forms' in the drop down list then click 'Yes, Start Enforcing Protection' and enter a password. To edit this form later, you'll need the password to unlock it so be careful to make sure you remember it. If you need further information about this feature in Microsoft Word, then it may interest in you take a look at our advanced Microsoft Word courses.

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About the Author:

Liz French  

With over 7 years of experience as a trainer, and an extensive skill set that spans across the entire Microsoft Office suite of applications, Liz brings an incredible amount of knowledge, expertise and care to each course she delivers. Having worked as a tutor in the education sector for many years prior to her career at New Horizons, Liz has gained an extensive amount of experience in providing training to individuals and groups of varying skill levels. As a certified Microsoft Office Master, Liz is a highly capable trainer who possesses the ability to connect with students of all levels and backgrounds in order to help improve their skills across a wide range of common Desktop Applications.

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