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

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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.

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.

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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.

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Comments (39)
  • Amanda

    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

      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).

  • Dean

    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.

  • Fiona

    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

      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.

  • Fiona

    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.

  • Joel

    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

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

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Affiliate Disclamer

This review may contain affiliate links, which pays us a small compensation if you do decide to make a purchase based on our recommendation. Our judgement is in no way biased, and our recommendations are always based on the merits of the items.

For more details, please read our disclosure.