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How To Create A Fillable Form In Word & Google Docs

By October 15, 2021November 16th, 2021No Comments

Updated November 2021

Did you know that you can use word processors like Word and Google Docs to create a fillable forms? Known as a ‘word form’, fillable forms can be extremely helpful in today’s predominantly virtual environment.

Rather than relying on paper forms or dealing with scans and pictures, creating a fillable form allows for cleaner, more consistent data.

Creating a fillable word form requires a little know-how, but once you know how to do it, it’s a skill that will prove useful in many situations.

Creating A Fillable Word Form

To make a word form that you can reuse and send out again and again, you’ll need to understand a few concepts, including:

  • Tables: Tables are what users will fill in the form. You can manipulate and resize them to ensure your final form looks aligned and clean.
  • Content controls: The area where you’ll fill in the template information for your form.
  • Protection: Manipulating protection of your form so that users can fill in information without changing the template information.

We also recommend that you track changes at all times, just in case something breaks and you need to fix it later.

Enable Developer Options

  1. Open the File tab.
  2. Click on Options.
  3. When the Word Options window opens, click the Customize Ribbon tab.
  4. Check the Developer check box.
  5. Click OK.

The Developer tab will help you to create your form, but also opens many useful options such as advanced protection options and the ability to record macros.

Create The Form

  1. Open a blank template.
  2. Create your base form. We recommend using a table where the first column will have the template fields, and the second column will be where you want users to enter their responses.
  3. Put your cursor into the first spot where you’ll want users to enter their information. This will be your first form field.
  4. Click the Developer tab in your ribbon. This will surface all your Developer options.
  5. In the Controls area of your Developer tab, click on the Design Mode button.
  6. Click one of the Content Control buttons to determine what information you want in your field.
    • You have a lot of options here, including but not limited to:
      • Rich text
      • Plain text
      • Picture
      • Drop-down box
      • Date picker
      • Checkbox
      • Click the Design Mode button to finalize.

Continue with any other fields you have in your fillable form.

Complete Your Fillable Form in MS Word

Before you distribute your form, you’ll want to test it and make sure you have proper protections in place to ensure that your form isn’t changed once you send it.

  1. If you’ve moved away from your Developer tab on the ribbon, reopen it.
  2. Click the Restrict Editing button. This will open a pane on the right side of your form.
  3. Check the Editing Restrictions check box.
  4. In the drop-down list under that box, click on Filling In Forms. This will allow users to fill in your form fields without changing any of the other information on the form.
  5. Click the button that says Yes, Start Enforcing Protection. You can increase security by adding a password here. We recommend doing this but it’s optional.
  6. Click OK.
  7. Open the form and test it to make sure that you can fill out the form fields as you desire without being able to change other information.

Your form is now ready to distribute!

Creating A Fillable Form With Google Docs

Google also offers a way to create a fillable form in Google Docs. Note that this is to replicate a printable form or a PDF. If you’re looking to build out a form for a survey, Google Forms offers a much simpler and easier way to manage that process.

Create A Single Form Entry Table

  1. Create a blank document in Google Docs. If you have any title or introductory information, insert and format accordingly.
  2. Click on Insert in the top ribbon and scroll to Table. You’ll be able to select the number of rows and columns. You’ll generally need two columns and we recommend having a table for each separate data item you’re looking to gather.
  3. Enter your information into the first column and leave the second column blank.

By default, Google Docs tables display as boxes. If you want to remove the top and side borders, you can accomplish this by clicking on the respective cell and removing borders and recoloring any remaining to be white.

You can copy this table throughout your form and simply change the form label.

Create A Multiple Form Entry Table

If you’re asking for information, such as an address, that will take multiple lines, the process looks much the same. In this instance, simply create a table large enough to accommodate. In other words, if your address needs three lines, pick a table with 2 columns and 3 lines.

Enter the information you’re looking for into the top-left cell. The same rules about reformatting cells will work here as well

Create A Checkbox Form Field

  1. Create a 2-column, 1-row table in Google Docs.
  2. Enter your form label into the left column.
  3. Get your cursor into the right cell, then click on the drop-down arrow on the bullet list in the top ribbon. Select the checkbox option. It will look like small, shadowed squares. This will insert the checkbox list into your table.
  4. Enter as many labels as you need.

Note that these checkboxes are a little bit clunky for users. Rather than just single-clicking on the box, users will need to double-click on the option that fits them, then right-click to select the checkbox. If this is something you want to pursue, you may want to provide additional instructions.

Create A Large Text Box Field

This would be especially useful for things like long-form text.

  1. Make a large table, at least 2 columns by 4 to 5 rows.
  2. In the left column, put in your field label as with other types of form fields.
  3. In the right-hand column, select all cells in all rows. Right-click on the selection and click on Merge Cells. This will create one much larger cell.

Conclusion

Creating a fillable form in Word or Google Docs requires a little bit of effort, but that effort will pay off in saving you time in having to mail forms and decipher handwriting.

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