9 tips for interactive forms in Word

Whether you are master of ceremonies at a wedding, organizing something for the association you are active for, or organizing something else to which you want to invite people, sometimes you need information quickly from many different people. Then it is important that this information is sent to you as uniformly as possible so that you can process it easily. You can do that online, but you can also do it the old-fashioned way with interactive forms in Word.

01 What is an interactive form?

Creating a form in Word is not that complicated. You put the data questions in a row and leave space for filling in. However, the only way people can properly fill out such a form is to print it out, fill it in with a pen or pencil and scan it in again. Because when you are going to fill out a form that is not intended to be completed digitally, the layout usually becomes a mess. But having to print and then scan is tedious and inefficient. An interactive form offers a solution, because you can simply fill it in in Word. Also read: Become a real Word expert in 12 steps

02 Enable Developer Tab

You can create an interactive form from Word, but you must enable developer mode for this. That sounds very complicated, but don't worry, you don't have to program or use complicated codes. It's just drag and drop, it just gives you a little more control over the elements you can add. You enable this mode by clicking File / Options / Customize Ribbon and then tick the box Developers. A Developer tab will now appear (next to the View tab), in which you click Design mode. You are now ready to start designing your form.

03 Template or not?

When learning new things, we always think it's wise to start with the basics. When you have 'built' everything yourself, you know exactly how something works and why. If you don't have time or don't feel like it, you can also opt for a template. Click on File / New and enter the word form in the Search Online Templates field. Word will now search Microsoft's online database for templates that match the keyword 'form'. Because we want to teach you something with this workshop, we don't go for a template but click on Empty document.

04 Add content

Now that you have a blank page in front of you, you can start adding elements. If you want to add text, for example an introduction or an explanation, you just do that in the way you are used to in Word. If you want to add other elements, you can use the buttons under the heading Controls in the Developer tab. Here you will find text fields, image fields and so on, which you can insert to make your form interactive. In the following steps, we'll give you some examples of these controls so you can apply them in the way that's convenient for you.

05 Text and image fields

As an example, we will make a registration form for an association, for which a passport photo must also be uploaded. First you fill in a heading (with plain text) that makes it clear what to enter here, such as name, address and so on. In addition, insert a text field under (or next to) each heading. You do this by hovering the mouse pointer where you want it and clicking on Rich Text Content Control (you can also do it without formatting). If you want people to be able to add passport photos as well, click Image content control. When people click on this (without Design Mode of course) they can easily add a photo from their hard drive.

European Championship Poole

In the example we use in this workshop, the form is intended as a registration form for an association. But you can of course use the form for many other purposes. How about making a football pool for the next season of the Eredivisie? All you have to do is create a form on which all matches are listed, and give people the option of entering a score per match using a text field (or drop-down lists). And as an extra bonus it is useful to know that when you search for forms within the templates of Word, there is a beautiful form that you can use to fill in the pool itself (under the name Football Pool Scorecard). You don't have to completely reinvent the wheel.

06 Check box and list boxes

It may also be the case that you want people to make a choice. You can indicate this by means of a check box or by means of a selection list. For check box click on Checkbox content control. Just type the text you want with the specific checkbox (yes/no or in our case the days of the week) next to it. For a combo box, click Combo Box Control Content. To add possible answers to the list box, click on the list box and then on Characteristics. At the bottom of the window that appears, you can add, delete, edit, etc. answers.

07 Date and time

If you want to let people enter a date or time, you can also do that with the help of a control. This is especially useful because it ensures that everyone enters the date and/or time in exactly the same way, so that there is no confusion. To insert a field for this, click on Dates content control under the heading Controls. Then by clicking Characteristics, you can indicate how the date and time should be recorded. For example, you can choose only the date or, for example, also the name of the day of the week.

08 Features

In the previous steps you are the option Characteristics encountered a few times. This is the button under the heading Controls which you click if you want to adjust the properties of the elements in question. For example, you can enter a title so that you can quickly identify the field in Design view, but you can also change the color of the element's content or the font used, and so on. You can also indicate that the relevant element may not be edited or removed, so that you prevent people from making a mess of your form.

09 Test your form

Did you fill in everything you wanted to fill in? Then it's time to test your form. You do this simply by clicking again on Design mode, so this mode is turned off. You will now see your form as anyone else sees it. Then you get annoyed by texts like Click here to enter a text, then you can easily adjust that in design mode by typing something over it. You can also check in this view whether drop-down menus work properly and whether the form is otherwise logical. Satisfied? Then you can offer the form for download on a website or send it to anyone who has to fill it out.

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