Create and Modify a Form: MS Word

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Forms, such as contracts and applications, are standard text documents with form fields inserted throughout where you fill in the blanks. You can create forms that will be used on screen, or printed and filled out on paper. Typically, you save the form as a template.

Saving the form as a template offers two main advantages: it can be reused without changing the original and it's easier for the user to fill it in.

Follow the steps below to create a form:

  1. Launch MS Word if it isn't already open.
  2. Start a new, blank document.
  3. Type in the standard headings and text that will appear in each document. Use a table, if you want, to lay out the form. Format it attractively.
  4. Choose View | Toolbars | Forms to display the Forms toolbar.
  5. Click the Text Form Field button every time you want to insert the field where users fill in their information. Don't worry about the length of the form field -- it will expand as text is entered.
  6. Specify whether you want the fields to appear shaded or not -- click the Form Field Shading button to toggle this option off and on.
  7. Click the Protect Form button on the Forms toolbar. When you do this, users can jump only to the parts they are to fill in, and are not able to change the form itself. (If you want to protect your form so that others can't simply turn off the protection, use the Tools | Protect Document command, and type a password).
  8. Choose File | Save As. In the Save As Type drop-down list, choose Document Template (*.dot).

When creating a form, always add clear directions so that people will know how to fill in the form correctly.

  1. Give directions on how to fill out the form and what to do when it is complete.
  2. Make the form simple to fill out; ask questions that can be answered by checking a box, choosing from a list, or typing a single word or short phrase.
  3. Label each item specifically, so the reader knows exactly what you want when filling in the information.
  4. Place the label so it is directly associated with where you want the user to type.
  5. Left-align form fields. If you have labels on the left of each form field, right-align them, so that the label and field are close together. It's easy to control alignment if you use a table, placing the labels in one column and fields in the next.

That's it!

(c) Carol Bratt, all rights reserved. Used with permission. Duplication is forbidden without express consent of author. Visit Carol's web site to learn more tips like this one!

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