Microsoft Word is the one of the important apps most of us use on daily basis for creating documents. However, do you know that it is easy to create editable forms in Microsoft Word? You can use the forms for various purposes like applications or information collection purposes. In this article, we will explain how to create fillable forms in Microsoft Word with Microsoft 365 version.
Usage of Word Forms
There are numerous ways you can make use of the forms in Word. The best example includes an application form that you receive in emails to fill and send back. In this case, the form controls are applied to control what the receiver can edit or select in the form. It is also important the user should not delete the content of the fillable form or change the formatting.
On other hand, there are pre-printed forms like the applications you can see in banks. These forms are first created in Word and pre-printed with necessary details. Users can fill other personal details manually and submit for processing. It is just matter of few minutes to reprint the form when required. It is also easy to modify some fields in the form to create a variation before printing.
Creating Forms in Microsoft Word
There are two straightforward ways to create a form in Word.
- Download the form template from Office library and modify the content as per your need.
- Create a custom form from scratch.
1. Creating Form from Template Library
This is the easy option to save your time. However, it may not always work as the pre-defined templates may not match your requirements.
- Open Word app and when you are in the backstage view, you will see default templates next to “Blank document” template.
- Click “More templates” link to explore all free templates available for you to download from Microsoft.
- Use the search box to enter the keywords like form or volunteer form to filter the relevant templates.
- When you find the template, click on it and then click “Create” button to start downloading the template.
- After downloading the template will be applied in your document. You can start modifying the content and print after finishing the work.
This method has lot of problems that most of the templates do not actually use the form controls. For example, all the checkboxes you see in the above “Volunteer Form” are simply square symbols. This means you cannot check or uncheck the items Word. The primary usage in this case will be to print out the form physically and the users need to manually fill out the details like the bank applications.
2. Creating Editable Forms in Word from Scratch
This is the correct approach when you want to have an editable form in Word. However, you will not see any form elements like checkbox or list in the default Word menu. you have to enable “Developer” menu to make them visible. When you are in Word app, go to “Files > Options”. Navigate to “Customize Ribbon” section and enable “Developer” option under “Main Tabs”. Now you will see a “Developer” menu in the ribbon showing form control icons.
The “Design Mode” will show additional instructional text which you can use if needed. Otherwise, you can simply click on the required form elements and start creating your form. After adding an element, you can click on the “Properties” to set needed controls. For example, after adding a list or combo box, you can setup the options in the properties section. You can also lock the filed, apply colors and protect it from deletion in the properties section.
Here are the form controls you can use with Word:
- Text controls – there are two text controls available – rich text and plain text. While both controls allow you to add text boxes, you can format the text like bold and italic with rich text option.
- Picture control – though there are not much use of pictures in the form, you can insert your logo and lock the item from deletion.
- Building block gallery content control – you can use this control to insert any building blocks from Quick Parts and other gallery of blocks.
- Checkbox – insert a checkbox where needed on your form. Note that you can click on the box to check or uncheck without any additional formatting.
- List controls – you can insert combo box control allowing users to select an option from the list or enter own value. Similarly, dropdown list will force users to select a value from the list.
- Date picker – insert a date picker for selecting a date.
- Repeating control – clicking on this icon will add a + icon to the selected control. You can click the + icon to duplicate the control easily.
- Legacy tools – it contains legacy form controls and ActiveX controls. These controls are useful to insert radio button or apply shading on form elements.
Note that the legacy and other controls will work differently on the form. For example, you can insert a “Check box content control” and enable the checked option by simply clicking on the icon. However, if you insert the “Check Box Form Field” from legacy tools, you need to double click on the icon and select “Checked” as your default value.
Let Us Create a Simple Form
To make the appearance of the form looks beautiful, first go to “Insert” menu and add a text box. You can also choose one of the built-in text box templates. This will help you to easily add background to your form and move all form fields easily.
After adding a text box, go to developer menu and start adding your fields inside the text box. Let us add the name and phone number which are plain text controls. Then a “Sex” field with Male and Female as two checkboxes both unchecked. A date picker for selecting the date and finally a combo box for selecting multiple interests. The form will look like below on your document:
As you can see, we have applied background and some text formatting to the text box to make the form looks appealing. When clicking on the interests field, it will show options for users to select as shown below. Since it is a combo field, users can also enter values on their own.
Protecting Your Form in Word
It is necessary to protect your form or fields so that users will not edit or modify the content. In addition, the formatting also needs to be protected to keep the form readable. Word offers multiple options to protect your form. As you can see in the properties screenshot above, you can choose the following options for each field.
- Content control cannot be deleted
- Contents cannot be edited
To protect the entire form, click on the “Restrict Editing” option. You have the possibilities to set two types of restrictions:
- Formatting restrictions – enable “Limit formatting to a selection of styles” option and click on “Settings…” link just below that. On the pop-up that appears you can select the styles that you want to apply the restrictions.
- Editing Restrictions – first select “Allow only this type of editing in the document” option. Then select the option to allow from the list. You can allow commenting, tracking changes, filling in forms or do not allow any changes by making the document as read only.
After selecting the restrictions, click on “Yes, Start Enforcing Protection” button and apply the password to protect your document. Remember, setting restrictions will apply throughout the document and is useful if you only have a form in the document. In case, if your form is part of a long document then you can create sections and apply protection for the section that contains the form.