How To Create a Fill-In Form in Word in 5 Simple Steps

Updated February 3, 2023

A person types on a laptop next to computer monitors and across from a coworker in an office setting.

Using a fill-in form in Microsoft Word can be helpful for privately collecting sensitive information and maintaining a readable document for anyone who requires access to the form. You can use pre-made templates or use a blank document, adding custom content controls such as date pickers and drop-down lists. Learning how to create a fill-in form is a great skill, regardless of which field or industry you're in.

In this article, we describe what a fill-in form is, review how to create a fill-in form in Word in five steps and share some uses for this function.

What is a fill-in form in Word?

A fill-in, or fillable, form in Word is a tool that asks a user to answer questions to gather data. Because of their digital nature, these forms are easy to change whenever necessary and simple for users to complete. It may be beneficial for you to use this interactive digital form, as it can save you the time and effort of reading a user's handwriting.

Related: How To List Microsoft Office Skills on a Resume

Uses for creating a fill-in form in Word

Here are some instances in which you may use a fillable form:

  • Surveys

  • Data collection

  • Data entry

  • Government documents, such as for a passport application

  • Collecting personal information, such as signing up for a class

Related: How To Unprotect a Word Document To Open and Edit

How to create a fill-in form in Word in 5 steps

Here are five detailed steps you can use to create a fill-in form in Word:

1. Open the program and go to the "Developer" tab

When opening the program, make sure it's displaying the "Developer" tab in the ribbon. The ribbon is the toolbar at the top of the screen containing the tools you can use to complete your tasks. If the "Developer" tab isn't visible, here are some steps to help you add it to your ribbon:

  • Under the "File" tab, select "Options" and then "Customize Ribbon."

  • From "Customize Ribbon," under "Main Tabs," select the "Developer" check box, then click "OK."

Every time you open the application, the "Developer" tab is likely to be there unless you uncheck the check box or reinstall the program. Within the "Developer" tab, you can access these features:


This enables you to complete tasks related to viewing and editing "Visual Basics" modules, creating and organizing recorded macros and viewing options related to macros.


This allows access to the different settings and details of all the add-ins in the program. The application permits you to link the store to this feature so you can browse more add-ins.


Under the controls section in the "Developer" tab, you have access to the tools associated with design throughout the document.


This section allows you to view the XML data within the document and gives you the ability to create content controls you can link. XML data is the custom data stored in the application.


The "Protect" tool allows you to limit how others can interact with your documents, such as viewing or editing. You can protect your document from format changes, track any changes other users make and allow commenting only for feedback.


The template option gives you access to view the various available templates or make changes to the attached document template. You can also manage global templates and add-ins.

Related: A Guide to Microsoft Certifications and Training Programs

2. Create the fill-in form

If you want to start with a fully customizable fill-in form, you can select a blank document. Conversely, if you want to save time, consider selecting a template document instead. After enabling "Developer," you can begin adding fill-in form fields to your document. Here's a list of steps for how to add these fields:

  • Place the mouse where you want to put the fill-in form field.

  • Click the "Developer" tab, then select "Design Mode."

  • Then, click the "Content Control" buttons to insert content controls like drop-down menus or a date picker.

  • Click the "Design Mode" button again when you're finished to activate the form.

Related: How To Delete A Blank Page in Word

3. Place the content in the form

To add content to your form, go to the "Developer" tab and choose any of the controls that apply to your form. If you want to delete a control, select the control and click on "Delete." You have the option to print any forms you create with the content controls, but the outlined boxes won't be visible. Here's a list of some content types you can place in the form:

Insert text control

With this control, users can make their text bold or italic. You also have the option to type multiple paragraphs. If you want to limit what users can do, insert the "Plain Text Content Control." To do this, follow these steps:

  • Click on the area where you want to add the control.

  • Under "Developer," select either "Rich Text Content Control" or "Plain Text Content Control."

Insert picture control

With this control, users can add photos to their forms. To do this, try:

  • Click on the area where you want to add the control.

  • Under "Developer," select "Picture Content Control."

Insert building block control

You can use this control if you want users to select specific blocks of text. To do this, try these steps:

  • Click on the area where you want to add the control.

  • Under "Developer," select "Building Block Content Control" or "Building Block Gallery Content Control."

Insert a combo box or a drop-down list

With a combo box, users can select from a list of choices that you create or can type their own words. In a drop-down list, users can only select from a list of choices that you provided. To do this, take these steps:

  • Under "Developer," select "Combo Box Content Control" or "Drop-Down List Content Control."

  • Once you've selected a content control, click on "Properties."

  • Begin creating your list of choices by selecting "Add" under the "Drop-Down List Properties."

  • Type each choice in "Display Name" such as "Yes," "No" or "Maybe" and repeat until you list all of your choices.

  • Complete any other properties that you desire. Selecting the "Content cannot be edited" check box doesn't permit users to select any of the choices you listed.

Insert a date picker

With this control, you can allow the users to select dates if relevant to your form. To do this, try these steps:

  • Click on the area where you want to add the control.

  • Under "Developer," select "Date Picker Content Control."

Insert a check box

With this control, you can allow the users to check or uncheck boxes. This is useful if you include simple yes or no questions. Here are the steps for this:

  • Click on the area where you want to add the control.

  • Under "Developer," select "Check Box Content Control."

Use the legacy form controls

You can use this control for making older versions of the form compatible. It includes legacy forms and Active X controls. Active X controls are smaller features that create programs that work through web browsers, such as list boxes or dialogue boxes. To do this, try these steps:

  • Click on the area where you want to add the control.

  • Under "Developer," select the "Legacy Forms" drop-down menu.

  • Choose either the "Legacy Form" control or the "Active X Control."

4. Create or change properties for content controls

For each content control, there are properties you can add or change. For example, under the "Date Picker Content Control," you can change the properties of how the form displays the date. Here are the steps for this:

  • Click on the content control you want to change.

  • Under "Developer," select "Properties."

  • Change properties as desired.

Related: How To Create Forms in Excel (With Types and Benefits)

5. Add protection to the fill-in form

Use the "Restrict Editing" feature to limit how the user can edit the fill-in form. You can protect the entire form or only specified parts. This keeps your document protected from any accidental changes to your form. Here are the steps for each option:

Protect the entire form

To protect the entire form, try the following:

  • Open the form you want to protect.

  • Under "Developer," select "Restrict Editing."

  • Select "Yes, Start Enforcing Protection."

Protect parts of the form

To protect only selected parts of the form, try these steps:

  • Open the form you want to protect.

  • Under "Developer," click on "Select Sections" in the "Restrict Editing" panel.

Insert a section break

If you want to protect only specific parts of the form, this requires inserting section breaks in the document. You can then select the desired sections. Here are some steps for this:

  • Click the area where you want the new section to begin.

  • Under "Layouts," select "Breaks."

  • Choose the type of break you desire.

Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.


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