Creating Forms in Word

The other day, I was approached by one of my training contacts – Audrey Bodman from the Outshine Group – for some assistance with one of her Word Questionnaires as, rather than getting her delegates to complete the form by hand (with the challenges that reading other people’s handwriting brings!) Audrey wanted the delegates to be able to complete the form on their computer & email it back. As you’ll appreciate from her web URL Audrey offers focused Telephone training to busy people that need to make lots of phone calls & who are more used to typing into databases than handwriting, so having an electronic form to complete fitted in more tightly with her delegates’ experiences & expectations.

As I’ve created electronic forms for other clients, too, I thought that this made for a good topic to share…

Creating the Form

In this case, Audrey had done a lot of the hard work in that she had already created a form ready for manual completion…

However, as you can see from the green boxes on the copy below, she’d had to leave large amounts of blank space where delegates could write in their answers…

… and, of course, these answers could be clearly written, scrawled, or in handwriting so large that there wasn’t enough space to wri

So, there were lots of benefits in having the form completed electronically…

Getting the form ready

As far as the document was concerned, the first thing that was needed to be done was to remove all of the blank spaces that had been left for a delegate to manually complete as once the document had been turned into a form, the space allowed would automatically expand to fit the content.

Then, before proceeding further with amendments to the document, we needed to get Word ready!

In order to create a form, the Designer Tab is needed & by default, this is hidden.

Making the Designer Tab visible

Our first step is from the File Tab

… select Options (depending on which version of Word you’re using, this may be in a slightly different place in the menu)

… this will bring up the Options dialog box, from where we select Customise Ribbon from the items on the left hand side & then click in the empty box next to Developer in the “Customise the Ribbon” group in the right hand column (these are the various Tabs that we can see at the top of Word

It’s then a simple case of clicking OK until we return back to our document & we should then see the Developer Tab between the View & Help Tabs

Adding Content Controls

Content controls, include check boxes, text boxes, date pickers, and drop-down lists & is the generic name given to the various fields that can be added into a Word document.

Plain Text Content Controls

On the Developer Tab
, having selected where the Control needs to be we select Design Mode, then a Plain Text Content Control

As the Content Control is clicked, it is inserted in the document where our cursor has been flashing

At this point, we can select the Properties associated with the Control & amend as necessary (including the ability to have multiple paragraphs should this be needed)…

We repeat these throughout the document wherever we want someone to add in comments

List Controls

There will be occasions where we want to guide the person as to their answer, whether it’s a simple “Yes/No” or a more complex set of options. There are two options that we can use, either a Combo Box or a Drop-Down List

They look the same within your document & are modified in the same way. The key difference between them is that the Combo Box will allow users to input their own answer (which may not be in the original list); Drop-Down boxes only allow selection from the items within the list.

Creating the options in either is the same process… click on the control & then select Properties then use the add button to add in the various options that you want…

… from a simple Yes/No response, through a 1-10 scoring system to something more complex

Finalising the form

Once we have all of the Content Controls where we want them, we need to finalise the form so that it can be used.

  1. The first step is to take the document out of Design Mode which you do by simply clicking on the Design Mode button (on the Developer Tab) to remove the shading

  1. The next step is to Restrict Editing to ensure that users can only type into the areas that you’ve set up or make use of the options in the Content Controls. This

When we select Restrict Editing, a task pane appears to the right of the screen

The key points are to ensure that there’s a tick in the box regarding Editing Restrictions & Filling in Forms is selected from the dropdown, we can then click the “Yes, Start Enforcing Protection” button.

This will give us the opportunity to set a password if needed (it’s not essential)

The document is now ready to use…

Editing the document

If you need to make any changes to the document, simply click the Stop Protection button (see image above) entering any passwords as necessary. You’ll then need to restrict editing again.