Word: Creating Fillable Forms Without Acrobat

For a lot of us, creating a fillable form means going to Acrobat, which boasts a robust fillable forms feature. (By the way, if you are interested in learning about Acrobat Fillable forms, please attend one of my training sessions on the subject!)

Word also has the ability to create forms fields; this is by no means intended to replace Acrobat in the Fillable Forms sphere, but it does offer some unique abilities… and there may be times you even prefer Word to Acrobat for this purpose.

Let’s check it out.

Exercise File

To follow along, download the exercise here: WordFormExercise

This is a sign up sheet for a fictional session. So far, there is just some text for guidelines for form fields. We will be inserting the form fields throughout the document, prompted by the text.

Also, here is a Solution Document. This will give you an idea of where we are going with this exercise.

Developer Tab

To see your form field tools, you will need to activate the Developer tab in the ribbon.

  1. Right click on the ribbon
  2. Select Customize the Ribbon
    Right click, customize ribbon selected
  3. Check the box next to Developer and click ok.

Developer Selected

  1. Now you should have a new tab called the Developer tab, complete with group called Controls, where we are going to experiment.

Controls group, Developer tab



In your new Developer tab, the Controls group contains a series of form fields that can be inserted. Hover your mouse over each one to see their function.

Form fields

Design Mode

There is a button in this group called Design Mode that you can toggle on and off during the creation of the form. Toggle this button on when designing the form, and off when you want to experience the form like your end users.

Design Mode button


When you are in Design Mode, you will have the option to edit Properties of a form field.

Properties Button

This will allow you to name your different fields, and control other features, like dropdown lists and more (stay tuned for those).

Field Options

Text Fields

Lets insert text fields for Name and Email Address.

Text Fields

  1. Click to the right of Name
  2. Select the Rich Text field (first Aa button)
  3. Click to the right of Email Address
  4. Click on the Plain Text button (second Aa button)

These two fields will behave very similarly. There are, however, more robust abilities for your users to format text with Rich Text. That being said, Plain Text offers the option in Properties to allow users to input carriage returns, which can also be handy. Both are excellent tools for fillable forms.


The Session Sign Up is requesting that people submit a bio picture. Picture attachment is a form field as well.

  1. Click to the right of Bio Picture
  2. Select the Picture form field.

Picture Form Field

This will place a box in the form that users can press to browse for and attach a picture.

Check Box

For the dietary needs area, you may want to put check boxes next to Yes and No

  1. Click to the left of Yes
  2. Select the checkbox field
    Checkbox Field
  3. Repeat with the No option

Combo Box and List Box

The Combo and List Box options are very similar; both will give users a list of options to choose from, but the Combo Box will allow users to hand type their own entries as well.

Combo and List Box buttons

  1. Click underneath the “please specify” wording in the form and select the Combo Box (the button to the right of the checkbox field).
  2. In the ribbon select Properties
    Properties Button
  3. At the bottom of the popup, press Add to add list options.List Area

Possible list options could be:

  • Vegetarian
  • Vegan
  • Gluten Free
  • Peanut Allergy

One list item: Vegetarian

  1. Note the ability to remove list items or change their order with the buttons on the right.

Listed items

  1. Create a List box under “Which Session will you be attending?” question. Notice how you create it the same way, though unlike the Combo Box,  users will not have the ability to add their own hand written choice.
    • Possible list may be:
      • Session 1
      • Session 2
      • Session 3

Date Picker

Insert the Date Picker under the Date prompt in the form.

Date Picker Field button

This will allow users to select a date from a calendar view.

Test it Out

 Let’s test out the form. Toggle the Design Mode off.

Design Mode button

For text fields, click into the field to type text.


Text typed into Text Field

Click on the Bio Picture field to be prompted to browse for a picture.

Picture Field

Test out your drop down lists. With both you can press the down arrow to see the full list of options, but you can also hand type an answer on the combo box.

Dropdown list wtth special text typed

The date picker dropdown arrow brings up a useful calendar from which users can select dates.


Be sure to check out the Solution Document to compare. This was a quick overview, but it is a good sized byte! 😊


What do you think? Did you know you could create fillable forms in Word? Do you have a handy use for this feature in your office?

Congratulations, Power Users!

Congratulations to our Power Users! For the full gallery, and more information about the WSU Microsoft Office Power User Program, please visit: wichita.edu/poweruser




4 thoughts on “Word: Creating Fillable Forms Without Acrobat”

    1. Hi Anne Marie! One thing you could do is save your form as a template and create a new form each time. It looks like there are also ways we could create a button with a macro that would clear your form too… I’d be happy to help you out with it, just give me a call (or email). 🙂

  1. No matter where I clicked on the ribbon on my Mac, I did not get a option to customize the ribbon.

    1. Hi Jan, on a Mac you can go to the menu at the top of the screen and select Word, then Preferences, then Ribbon and Toolbar, and you will see a similar screen. Or, feel free to shoot me an email and I can send you a screen shot. 🙂

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