Did you know that you can create forms in Word that people can fill out? When you hear about fillable forms, it is almost always related to Adobe and PDF documents, as this is the most popular format.
However, Word is also quite powerful and you can use it to quickly create forms that can be printed or emailed, etc. If you need to create a survey that will be available to many people and you want all the answers automatically calculated, it might be better to use Google Docs to create a survey.
In this article, I’ll show you how to create a form with text boxes, checkboxes, a date picker, and a list box. You can also make your forms a lot better by using tables to organize everything.
Enable Developer tab
By default, you cannot create forms in Word unless you enable the Developer tab on the Ribbon. Since it is not used by many people, Microsoft turned it off by default. To enable the tab, click File and then Options.
On the left, click Customize Ribbon, and then select the Developer check box in the list on the right.
Click OK and click a tab on the ribbon. The section that interests us the most is the controls.
Create a form in Word
The Controls section contains about eight different controls that you can add to your Word document: rich text, plain text, image, building block gallery, checkbox, combo box, drop-down list, and date picker.
To insert a control, simply click on it and it will appear where the cursor was. In my example below, I created a table and added two text boxes for the first and last name.
By default, each control has its own placeholder text. For a simple text control, this is click or tap here to enter text. You can edit this text for any control by clicking the Design Mode button to the right of the control icons.
Blue placeholders appear to the left and right of any controls added to the document. Select the text and change it to whatever you like. Press the Design Mode button again to exit the mode.
Then click the newly added control so that it is highlighted and then click Properties, which is directly below the Design Mode button. Each control will have a standard set of options with configurable options at the bottom depending on the type of control.
Here you can give the control a title, change the color, style the text, and specify whether the control can be changed or removed. At the very bottom are control-specific options that, in the case of a plain text control, determine whether you want to allow multiple lines or not. The latter option is useful if you need someone to type a paragraph of text.
So what is the difference between a plain text control and a rich text control? Well, not really. In a rich text control, you can change the font / color settings for each word individually, while a plain text control will apply formatting to all text. You might think that a plain text control does not allow bold, font changes, or color changes, but it is possible.
Then I went ahead and added a dropdown to my form. You will see the message “Select an item” and that’s it. To add items to the list, you must click Properties.
Click the Add button and enter a name of your choice. By default, the display name and value will be the same, but you can change them if you like. There is really no reason to change the value unless you write Word macros and reference controls in your code.
Once you’ve added all your options, click OK and you can now select options from the dropdown list.
The only difference between a dropdown control and a combo box control is that the latter allows the user to enter their own value if they wish. In the dropdown list, you must select one of the options in the list. In the combo box, you can select it from the list or enter your own value.
The date picker works just like any date picker you’ve probably used on flight booking sites, etc. When you click on it, a calendar appears and you can simply click on a date to select it.
If you click the Properties button, you will see that there are several options for the date picker control.
You can choose a different format for displaying the date and choose a different type of calendar. The image control is another handy option that will allow users to easily insert images.
When a user clicks an image, a dialog box appears where they can select an image from their computer, from Bing Image Search, or from OneDrive. They also have options for Facebook and Flickr.
Now let’s add some checkboxes to our document. Note that when you add a checkbox and try to type text into it, it will tell you that the selection is locked. I believe this was done on purpose. You have to click next to the checkbox and then enter your text.
Finally, you can insert a building block control that lets you select content from quick parts and auto text. If you donâ€™t understand what Iâ€™m talking about, check out my post on how to use auto text and quick parts in Word. In my example, I added some quotes to the custom autotext and then linked the control to it via the Properties dialog box.
If you have all the controls in your document the way you want it would be a good idea to secure the document so that the user can only fill in the form fields and that’s it. To do this, click “Restrict Editing” on the “Developer” tab.
In the panel that appears on the right, click the drop-down list under Editing Restrictions and select Form Fill. Make sure to select the Allow only this type of editing in document check box.
Click Yes, start enforced protection, and then enter the password if you like. Now only form fields will be editable, and everything else is locked / protected. The user can easily use the TAB key to navigate between different form fields.
Overall, Word isn’t the best tool for creating forms, but it’s decent and probably more than adequate for most people. If you have any questions, do not hesitate to comment. Enjoy!