Determining Form Elements
The first step to creating a web page form in Microsoft Word is to design the form properly. For first time designers, it would make more sense to create a rough draft manually, listing all the information elements of the form. It would also speed up the creation process if the user were to determine exactly the various pieces of data that form is being designed to collect.
For example, a simple registration form for a library would include items like: name, address, age, and membership package details, among other things more specific to each individual library.
The next step in designing the form is to ascertain what the ranges of values for the potential inputs are. Using the previous example, the age cannot be any number whatsoever, as it needs to fall within certain plausible limits. Similarly, names cannot contain numbers, and the membership packages are defined by the library, although selected by the customer. Not all of the controls need to be implemented, however to ensure optimal data entry, it is good programming practice to impose a few restrictions.
Creating the Form in Word
In Word 2007, the form creation tools are listed under the Developer tab. This may not be immediately visible, as the default setting for the tab is set to be invisible. The toggle option can be found under the Word Options menu, on clicking the Office button. On selecting the Popular option in the left pane, the right pane displays a set of options. One of these is ‘Show Developer tab in Ribbon’; selecting the checkbox will add the tab to the menu bar in Word.
The tab contains a few sections, however for the purpose of creating a web page form in Microsoft Word, the section of most interest is the second one labelled ‘Controls’. Most users will recognise a number of familiar controls, including text boxes and drop down menus. Each of these controls can be inserted into a document to create a form.
As per the user’s initial design draft, the document can now start coming together. The following form is a visualization of the previous example:
The ‘Properties’ button becomes accessible when any of the controls are selected. The user can give the controls unique identifiers and as well as set parameters on input. The ‘Design Mode’ is used to customize the appearance of the form according to the user’s sense of aesthetics.
Protecting a Form
In the event that the form is going to be used as it is, and not as a template, it would make sense to disable any changes to the instructive text. For instance, a potential library customer needs to enter their details on the registration form, and not change the labels for the input controls.
The protection is done using the ‘Protect Document’ option under the Developer tab. The form designer can choose to restrict changes to the whole document or just to certain sections.
Microsoft Word Versions
There are numerous versions of Microsoft Office, and therefore, by extension Word. Each version incorporates certain changes, therefore a series of steps to perform a task in an older version may not work in a newer one.