Make A Fillable Form In Word 2010 & Collect Data The Easy Way

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word   Make A Fillable Form In Word 2010 & Collect Data The Easy WayAs every day users we usually treat MS Office in a rather half-baked way. It’s only later that we realize we could cook up so much more with tools available under MS Word, MS Excel, and MS PowerPoint etc. This is a very basic tutorial on how to easily put together an interactive form with the help of Microsoft Word 2010. The feature of MS Word forms has been a constant feature from the early days. Most of us missed it because either we don’t need it or we found it too difficult to wrap our heads around it.

Creating fillable forms are an advanced aspect of MS Word, but it’s a skill you would do well to master; especially if you routinely gather data or feedback from a target audience. So, here’s the not too difficult approach as demonstrated on MS Word 2010.

It all starts with a plan

Any design project starts with a thought and then takes the shape of a definite plan. Best thing you can do is to design it first on paper. To illustrate how to create a fillable form in Word 2010, here’s a basic feedback form for MakeUseOf.com readers.

The Developer Tab is the control center for forms

The Developer tab is hidden in the Ribbon. Reveal it by going to File – Options ­- Customize Ribbon. Under the long list of main tabs, select the checkbox for Developer.

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The Developer tab gets a place on the Ribbon.

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Adding Content Controls

Content controls are interactive elements that help you design documents and templates quickly. Available since Word 2007, there home is on the Developer tab. Every content control has properties which can be set for user input and data collection. We start adding a few as building blocks for our form.

Type in the details that you want the recipients to fill out – like Name, Gender, Age, Country, Operating System…and a few more.

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Now, the form will be embellished with a few content controls against the details we have filled out. Go to the Developer tab – insert the cursor where you want the control to appear. Under the Controls group, you can see that there are nine options to choose from depending on the user input you want. For instance, Name needs a Plain Text Control as a fillable data field. Gender could do with checkboxes for male and female. Similarly, you can insert the appropriate content controls at the right places.

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To configure the properties of the form control, click on Properties in the Controls group. The Control Content Properties dialog box will appear when called for each type of form control. Select or enter the desired properties.

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For instance, for the Text Form field for comments, you can restrict the length or keep it limited with the options in Properties.

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For dropdowns, you can add individual items easily from its Properties dialog.

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Finalizing the form by restricting unintentional editing

Another basic feature you can enforce for form input is to control formatting and editing of form content.

Click on the form control and then select Restrict Editing from the Protect group. Options open up in a sidebar. Under Editing Restrictions select – Allow only this type of editing in the document. Select Filling in forms. Now, click on – Yes, start enforcing protection.

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This step limits user input to the form controls only and not to the surrounding text.

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A pop-up box opens up for setting up password protection. If you do not want to password protect the document click on OK to exit the dialog. Try out the form by filling in some sample data. To get back into the design mode, stop the protection by clicking on the button and then click on Design Mode in the Control Group.

This is a form at its simplest. Formatting and designing with Word’s other tools can turn even this simple form into a powerful document for data exchange. Let us know if this tutorial has served to illustrate the primary steps to create a fillable Microsoft Word 2010 form.

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23 Comments - Write a Comment

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Anonymous

great post dude…

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Umariking

Simply great. but please tell us how to collect the data in the above filled forms to MS Access. 

Thanking You for the above post

Saikat Basu

That’s slightly more complicated. You have to create a ADODB connection between the two. Couldn’t find an updated tutorial on it for Office 2010, but you can check out an old MSDN article. The process should be similar.

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N2s2k2

I want to add Date of Birth with three separate Day, Month, Year dropdowns. How to do that?

Saikat Basu

The easiest way would be to add a Date Picker Control from the Developer tab. But if you want to insert separate dropdowns, the each dropdown has to be populated with values for day, month, and year from the properties tab of the Dropdown List Control.

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Becca12

This is very helpful, thanks.  Is there a way for me to create a field for text that is restricted in length, and that also is filled with background color?  I’d like the fillable areas to be colored to indicate where input is needed.

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Griego

How can I add a line below the active area so it appears that the user is typing on a line?

Saikat Basu

I am not sure of this myself. You can use Active X Controls (Text Box) and work with the values given in the Categorized tab of the Active X control’s Properties box. But I didn’t get the desired result in my trial. You can put this question to the wiser community in our Answers section.

Guest

I don’t know if it works in 10 – but I had good luck in 2003 with clicking in the “box” and picking underline.  It will then underline what you type in the box.  I didn’t test…

JayBird70

When you create a text box go to home and underline it……I hope this help.  It worked for me

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hoangmi

Thank you for this wonderful tutorial. I’ve filled this website URL in my ‘useful websites’ folder.
I have one question: Can we make a bigger box than the tick box for yes/no question that respondents can fill digits?

Saikat Basu

I am not sure I understand your question. You can use a Rich Text Content control or a Plain Text Control. Using an ActiveX control allows you to set dimensions.

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Shamelin

Is there an easy way to know how many characters will fit into a text box? I often need to use several different size boxes and find it difficult to ensure that the text will not “roll” out of the readable area of the box.

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Saikat Basu

There is a maxlength property. I suppose you can use that. You can also set properties like multi-line, word wrap, and auto-size.

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Kim

Hi,
Great tutorial.  However, when I protect it and save it as a .dotx and then send it to myself, none of the controls (check boxes or text boxes) are accessible.  I created it in Word 2010. I emailed it to a Word 2007 pc and nothing is working at all.  Any help/advice would be appreciated

Saikat Basu

I guess it will only work as a 2010 document. You cannot use it if you create it in the upgraded version and open it up again in the 2007 version.

Saikat Basu

It won’t work with the 2007 version. You have to save it as a dotx file and not as doc. Some of the advanced controls are meant for Word 2010.

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Niels Grundtvig Nielsen

When I try this – just adding checkboxes – the [Yes, Start Enforcing Protection] button remains disabled. All I’ve managed to find is vague suggestions about DRM, which seems a bit like overkill. Any tips will be welcome!
 

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Chris

Thanks a million for taking the time to compose, type and present this great info, you taught me something it would have taken hours to learn on my own. I do appreciate your time and hard work involved in creating this helpful posting.  It is definitely helping people and changing the world for the common good.

Chris

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CindyHaight

I need to add a function where the user can tab from field to field when completing a form. Where is this function?

Saikat Basu

I am not sure of the answer myself. Maybe, you can post it in our Answers section and ask for the solution from the wider community.

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Devon Wright

Yes , this has helped me to complete a section of an assignment I am doing on interactive CD . I never had a clue how to create such a interactive feedback form. However , I used Word 2007 so I could not get ‘check boxes’ for age , gender and so on ; I used text for all questions! The drop box for properties never appeared , neither for restriction for editing the question but I was able to use ‘Group’ to prevent editing by the user. Thanks!

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uchesgirl

Your article didn’t mention anything about how to collect the data, after the document has been created. I need assistance in that area. I would like to import the data in Excel or Access.

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