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Creating Forms in Microsoft Word

Although Word is most commonly used for creating documents, it can also be used for capturing data like a form. Word Forms do not require any programming knowledge. These are easy to create and will work across ALL versions of Word.


The Need for Word Forms

This is very useful for conducting quick surveys or quizzes where you want to control the responses. Of course, there are more sophisticated methods and tools available for bother these scenarios, Word is familiar to everyone and almost guaranteed to be available on every desktop. Hence it is a compelling option even today (2017).

How to create Word Forms?

Two steps. Create the survey by inserting editable items (form fields) and then lock the document so that only the form can be filled.

Adding fields to Word Forms

There are three types of fields.

  1. The new type of fields which are better looking and more interactive.
    These do not work with older versions of Word.
  2. The solution is to use the built-in form fields.
    These are available with any version of Word. So compatibility is never an issue.
  3. ActiveX controls
    These are more sophisticated but not guaranteed to be available on every PC. ActiveX controls are being phased out globally. These are used by programmers who  want to extend Word and add business functionality to it.

In short, we will use the built-in Word Forms and related fields. To use these, we have to enable the developer tab.

Enable developer tab in Office 2007

File – Word Options – Popular – activate the Show developer tab option.

Enable developer tab in Office 2010 onwards

Open Word. File – Options. Click Customize Ribbon. In the list on the right side, scroll and identify the Developer item. This item is not selected by default. Select it and close the dialog.

Using Form Fields

Open the briefcase icon dropdown under Developer Tab – Controls group.

We will use only the upper part called Legacy forms. We have various types of fields available. Simple text, checkbox and box.

Create a document and choose a field. Let us add a text field for capturing the name.

The word Name is typed manually. Now select Text form field from the legacy tools area. Notice that the field is added with gray background. The width of this field looks small but it expands automatically.

Let us add another textbox for duration. To keep things simple, we will use another text field.


Let us add the leave type. Choose the Drop-down form field. Once added, double click inside the field to add various leave options.


Now let us add a Check box form field.  We will ask whether it is Paid or unpaid leave. Double click on the field to change the default to Checked (means Paid leave).


Now the form looks like this.


Restricting form filling in Word Forms

Right now the form is in edit mode. The captions and structure can be changed. We cannot type inside the fields properly. Checkbox cannot be unchecked and the dropdown does not appear.

Here is how you can make it a fillable form. With Office 2007, Choose Protect Document from the Review tab. Choose Restrict Formatting and Editing option. For newer versions of Office, the Restrict editing option is directly available in the Review tab.


Now a new window (pane) opens. Choose the Allow only this type of editing checkbox and choose the Filling in Forms option from the dropdown.


Now click the Yes, Start enforcing protection button. Specify a password and type it again to confirm it.

Now it is a real form.

How to fill Word Forms?

Click on any field to fill it. You cannot click and edit any other area in the Word file.

Dropdowns can be selected and checkboxes can be enabled or disabled.

How to save the data from filled Word Forms?

You will send this form as attachment to multiple people. They will fill it and then send it back to you. Unfortunately, you cannot extract data from multiple filled forms. You have to do it one-by-one. Here is a filled form.


In order to save only the data from the form, follow these steps:

  1. Go to File – Options – Advanced
  2. Scroll down and choose the checkbox as shown below. Left side is Office 2007 and right side is newer versions of Word.


Now the saved file will be just a TXT file containing the comma delimited data.  A preview is also shown before saving.


Practical Usage

This method works ever since Word was created. Although newer methods are available now, this method may still come in handy for quick and easy data capture.


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