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microsoft word formsAs 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.

microsoft word forms

The Developer tab gets a place on the Ribbon.

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creating forms in microsoft word

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.

creating forms in microsoft word

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.

creating forms in microsoft word

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.

creating forms in word

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

creating forms in word

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

creating forms in word

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.


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

microsoft word forms

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.

  1. fillable
    August 31, 2016 at 5:01 pm

    this is very good website

  2. jay
    June 28, 2016 at 5:09 am

    I have a table with fields in, when I type text in a column the text in the field moves down into another row. I have tried to restrict it to 3 lines in maximum length but this does not seem to stop the text from moving down. Does 2010 have the option like adobe pro where the text would stay in the column & row but just makes the font smaller enabling it to stay in the field.

  3. Kathleen
    June 22, 2016 at 2:08 pm

    I created a fillable form and password protected it. However When i open it on my Android phone it is no longer protected and when I open it on an iphone you can fill in the form.. How do I fix the form so it can by used on computers, iphone and android phone?

  4. CA 35 Mike
    December 8, 2015 at 3:05 pm

    FYI: common grammatical error at,
    http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/fillable-form-word-2010-collect-data-easy/
    "Available since Word 2007, there home is on the Developer tab" should be "their home is on..."
    I appreciate the resources and tips you offer.

  5. Amanda
    March 25, 2015 at 3:40 pm

    I use the "Restrict Editing" feature on my Word form (with a password no one but myself knows), limiting folks to just filling in the form. That said, each year when I collect them from my program participants, a few people ALWAYS manage to override my protections and are able to 1) override drop-down menus and type in whatever they want in the field or 2) type outside the text fields. Any idea how folks are getting around my protection? Thanks!

    • Matthew
      April 8, 2015 at 1:21 am

      You can easily unlock any work document by saving it as a html file, open the html file with notepad to see the code behind the document. You then use the find function to quickly search for the term "enforcement = 1" or "enforcement = yes" and change the 1 to a 0 or change the yes to a no, close, save and voila! the document now has zero protection. (sources: Google).

  6. Dean
    March 17, 2015 at 3:02 pm

    Is there any way to make a fillable form functional in the tablet/iPad version of Word? I have Office 365 Word on my iPad and can't seem to get the fillable form fields to work. Thank you.

    • Saikat
      March 17, 2015 at 4:56 pm

      Honestly, no idea as I don't own a tablet. Maybe, you can pitch this in our Answers section.

  7. Fiona
    February 25, 2015 at 12:44 am

    Hi :) For a text form field I've got Default Text to give users a hint regarding the type of data they need to enter into that field. How do I stop that default text from printing if the user doesn't populate that field? I've tried the add helpt text section in the field properties but whatever I type doesn't appear in the document.

    • Saikat
      February 25, 2015 at 5:17 am

      Enter the Developer mode.
      Click on the box in question and click properties
      Remove the default text
      Once you protect the document again that text will disappear and the blank space now appears.

      I don't think there's any other way. But do ask in our Answers section. Someone might have a neat tip.

  8. Fiona
    February 25, 2015 at 12:35 am

    Hi :) For a text form field I've got Default Text to give users a hint regarding the type of data they need to enter into that field. How do I stop that default text from printing if the user doesn't populate that field? I've tried the add helpt text section in the field properties but whatever I type doesn't appear in the document.

  9. Joel
    January 20, 2015 at 12:50 pm

    Hi,
    How would I get about getting the information from the form and displaying them in something like a label elsewhere in the same document??
    cheers
    great post

    • Saikat
      January 21, 2015 at 5:44 pm

      I haven't tried that yet, but maybe, follow the same steps as for mail merge into labels?

  10. Kent
    January 19, 2015 at 10:57 pm

    Excellent tutorial. I have a Word 2010 document where I would to create a number field where the user must enter a number greater than a predetermined minimum. So for example the user can enter anything over 500, but not 499 or less. Is there a way to restrict user entered data like this...thank you in advance

    • Saikat
      January 20, 2015 at 7:05 am

      As far as I know, data validation is much more difficult in Word and is an overkill. The easier tool to use is Excel. Hopefully, this WordTips tutorialwill help you out.

  11. Anthony
    January 5, 2015 at 4:24 am

    I have a form with several different types of content controls (ie. checkbox, dropdown, etc.) I want to be able to search for all dropdown controls and replace them with a checkbox control. How do I do this?

    • Saikat
      January 12, 2015 at 9:16 am

      Not sure how to answer this. Why don't you try our community in our Answers section..

  12. Elango
    December 31, 2014 at 8:16 am

    I need for how to export image content control

  13. uchesgirl
    December 16, 2014 at 11:05 pm

    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.

    • MaryB
      May 1, 2015 at 3:57 pm

      I have the same question. I need to know how to get this data from the filled out forms into Excel.
      thanks!

    • MaryB
      May 1, 2015 at 4:05 pm

      I have the same question. I need to know how to get this data from the filled out forms into Excel.
      thanks!

  14. Devon Wright
    December 14, 2014 at 9:40 pm

    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!

  15. CindyHaight
    October 17, 2011 at 4:53 pm

    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
      October 22, 2011 at 7:38 pm

      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.

  16. Chris
    October 16, 2011 at 6:34 pm

    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

  17. Niels Grundtvig Nielsen
    October 11, 2011 at 8:45 am

    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!
     

  18. Kim
    October 4, 2011 at 1:18 pm

    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
      October 6, 2011 at 11:49 am

      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
      October 14, 2011 at 7:43 pm

      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.

  19. Saikat Basu
    September 27, 2011 at 3:29 am

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

  20. Shamelin
    September 23, 2011 at 2:01 pm

    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.

  21. hoangmi
    September 20, 2011 at 6:56 am

    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
      September 22, 2011 at 10:22 am

      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.

  22. Griego
    September 15, 2011 at 6:08 pm

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

    • Saikat Basu
      September 15, 2011 at 8:09 pm

      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
      September 26, 2011 at 8:43 pm

      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
      October 21, 2011 at 11:37 pm

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

  23. Becca12
    September 8, 2011 at 2:57 pm

    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.

  24. N2s2k2
    September 3, 2011 at 1:31 am

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

    • Saikat Basu
      September 7, 2011 at 7:13 pm

      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.

  25. Umariking
    August 4, 2011 at 4:50 pm

    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
      August 5, 2011 at 3:58 am

      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.

  26. Anonymous
    August 2, 2011 at 9:17 am

    great post dude...

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