Create forms that users complete or print in Word

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Keywords    check box; creating forms; drop-down list; dropdown menu; electronic forms


You can create a form in Microsoft Office Word 2007 by starting with a template and adding content controls, including text boxes, date pickers, and drop-down lists. Other people can use Office Word 2007 to fill out the form on their computer. In an advanced scenario, any content controls that you add to a form can also be linked to data.

You can also create a form by starting with a sample template. Many are available on the Microsoft Office Online Web site.

 Note   You can print a form that was created by using content controls in Office Word 2007, but the boxes around the content controls will not be printed.

What do you want to do?


Create a form

Step 1: Set up Word for creating forms

  1. Click the Microsoft Office Button Button image, and then click Word Options.
  1. Click Popular.
  2. Select the Show Developer tab in the Ribbon check box, and then click OK.

 Note   The Ribbon is a component of the Microsoft Office Fluent user interface.

Step 2: Open a template or a document on which to base the form

  1. Click the Microsoft Office Button Button image, and then click New.
  1. Under Templates, click My templates.
  2. Double-click Normal, and then click Template or Document under Create New.
  3. Click the Microsoft Office Button Button image, and then click Save As.
  1. In the Save As dialog box, give the new template or document a file name, and then click Save.

Step 3: Add content controls to the form

Design the form by sketching a layout first, or use an existing form as a guide. In your form, you can add content controls, tables, and other graphics elements.

On the Developer tab, in the Controls group, click Design Mode, and then click where you want to insert a control.

Word Ribbon image

Do any of the following:

Insert a text control where users can enter text

  1. On the Developer tab, in the Controls group, click the Rich Text control Ribbon image or the Text control Ribbon image.

Insert a text fill-in field

 Important   Spell Check will not flag any errors that are typed in the text form field. If you want to run Spell Check, use the Rich Text control or the Text control.

  1. On the Developer tab, in the Controls group, click Legacy Tools.
  1. Click Text Form Field.
  2. In the Controls group, click Design Mode, and then do any of the following:
    • To add a line under the field, select the field, and then click Underline in the Font group on the Home tab.
    • To limit the amount of information a person can type in the field, set a maximum width by selecting the field, clicking Properties in the Controls group, and entering a value under Maximum length.
    • To make the field look as long as its maximum length, add instructional text by clicking Properties in the Controls group, and typing text, such as Type your first name here, under Default text.

Insert a drop-down list that restricts available choices to those you specify

  1. On the Developer tab, in the Controls group, click the Drop-Down List control Button image.
  2. Select the content control, and then on the Developer tab, in the Controls group, click Properties.

Word Ribbon image

  1. To create a list of choices, under Drop-Down List Properties, click Add.
  2. Type a choice in the Display Name box, such as Yes, No, or Maybe.

Repeat this step until all of the choices are in the drop-down list.

Insert a check box

  1. On the Developer tab, in the Controls group, click Legacy Tools.
  1. Click Check Box Form Field.
  2. Type a space, and then type a label for the check box.
  3. To remove the shading from the check box, click Legacy Tools, and then click Shading.

 Note   You won't be able to select or clear the check box until you protect the form.

Step 4: Set or change properties for content controls

Each content control has properties that you can set or change. For example, the Date Picker control offers options for the format you want to use to display the date.

  1. Right-click the content control that you want to change.
  2. Click Properties, and change the properties that you want.

Step 5: Add instructional text to the form

Instructional text can enhance the usability of the form you create and distribute. You can change the default instructional text in content controls.

To customize the default instructional text for your form users, do the following:

  1. On the Developer tab, in the Controls group, click Design Mode.

Word Ribbon image

  1. Click the content control where you want to revise the placeholder instructional text.
  2. Edit the placeholder text and format it any way you want.
  3. If you want the content control to disappear when someone types in their own content to replace your instructions in a Rich Text control or a Text control, click Properties in the Controls group, and then select the Remove content control when contents are edited check box.
  4. On the Developer tab, in the Controls group, click Design Mode to turn off the design feature and save the instructional text.

 Note   Do not select the Contents cannot be edited check box if you want form users to replace the instructional text with their own text.

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Add protection to a form and prepare it for distribution

You can protect individual content controls in a form template to help prevent someone from deleting or editing a particular content control or group of controls, or you can prepare a form to be distributed and filled out by locking it. You can help protect all of the form template content with a password.

 Tip   If you want, you can test the form prior to distributing it. Open the form, fill it out as the user would, and then save a copy in a location that you want.

Protect parts of a form

  1. Open the form that you want to protect.
  2. Select the content control or the group of controls to which you want to restrict changes.

To group several controls, select the controls by pressing SHIFT and clicking each control that you want to group. On the Developer tab, in the Controls group, click Group, and then click Group.

  1. On the Developer tab, in the Controls group, click Properties.

Word Ribbon image

  1. In the Content Control Properties dialog box, under Locking, do either of the following:
    • Select the Content control cannot be deleted check box, which allows the content of the control to be edited but the control itself cannot be deleted from the template or a document that is based on the template.
    • Select the Contents cannot be edited check box, which allows you to delete the control but does not allow you to edit the content in the control.

 Note   This option is not available for all controls.

Prepare a form to be filled out

  1. Open the form that you want to lock so that it can be filled out.
  2. On the Developer tab, in the Protect group, click Protect Document, and then click Restrict Formatting and Editing.

Word Ribbon Image

  1. In the Protect Document task pane, under Editing restrictions, select the Allow only this type of editing in the document check box.
  2. In the list of editing restrictions, select Filling in forms.
  3. Under Start enforcement, click Yes, Start Enforcing Protection.
  4. To assign a password to the document so that only reviewers who know the password can remove the protection, type a password in the Enter new password (optional) box, and then confirm the password.

 Important   If you choose not to use a password, anyone can change your editing restrictions.

Use strong passwords that combine uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols. Weak passwords don't mix these elements. Strong password: Y6dh!et5. Weak password: House27. Passwords should be 8 or more characters in length. A pass phrase that uses 14 or more characters is better. For more information, see Help protect your personal information with strong passwords.

It is critical that you remember your password. If you forget your password, Microsoft cannot retrieve it. Store the passwords that you write down in a secure place away from the information that they help protect.

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See it in action

The following videos show you the basics of how to create a Word 2007 form and prepare it for distribution.

Show the Developer tab and create a template

Simple form in Word

Play Demo Demo button

See how to prepare a document before adding form controls.

Add controls to the form

Simple form with controls added

Play Demo Demo button

Watch an overview of how to add form controls and set their properties.

Protect the form and prepare for distribution

Adding drop-down list to form control

Play Demo Demo button

Watch an overview of how to add protection to the form and prepare it for distribution.

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Applies to:
Word 2007