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Word 2010: Forms in Depth

Inserting a ComboBox control


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Word 2010: Forms in Depth

with Gini Courter

Video: Inserting a ComboBox control

There are two reasons you might use a combo box in a form. The first reason is that you're not sure that you know all of the choices that users would have to make. You might ask someone what state they're from and provide a list of states, but then someone from a province or someone's from Guam and they want a place to enter that information and you haven't allowed them because you've only provided a list of fifty state abbreviations. So the first is we may not have all of the information about how all of our users would enter data in the form.

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Word 2010: Forms in Depth
2h 4m Intermediate May 24, 2011

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

In this course, author Gini Courter introduces the form creation tools found in Word 2010 and shows how to produce electronic forms that are visually pleasing and easy to navigate. The course covers designing a form; capturing data effectively with dropdown lists, date pickers, and check boxes; and adding controls for repeating data using the Word Content Control Toolkit. The course also includes tutorials on testing, protecting, and distributing forms.

Prerequisite Course: Word 2010 Essential Training

Topics include:
  • Setting up a form
  • Customizing pre-built Microsoft.com templates
  • Inserting content controls
  • Saving a form as a template
  • Troubleshooting form issues
  • Understanding Building Blocks
  • Creating a schema using the Content Control Toolkit
Subjects:
Business Forms
Software:
Office Word
Author:
Gini Courter

Inserting a ComboBox control

There are two reasons you might use a combo box in a form. The first reason is that you're not sure that you know all of the choices that users would have to make. You might ask someone what state they're from and provide a list of states, but then someone from a province or someone's from Guam and they want a place to enter that information and you haven't allowed them because you've only provided a list of fifty state abbreviations. So the first is we may not have all of the information about how all of our users would enter data in the form.

The second possibility is that you have most of the information and you think it's good enough. 90% of our users enter the same small set of values and we would love to provide a very short drop-down list. If we included every possible value, it would get really, really long and it would be hard for users to scroll hundreds of items to choose the lesser used items. So we make a management decision that says we're going to make it easy for most of our users and a few people will have to type something and that's absolutely okay.

We have a combo box need in our form here. We have four possibilities that we know off. When people are making pledges we encourage them either to give us a check now, pay this on a monthly basis, a quarterly basis or we will take this out of your paycheck or expected payment at the end of the year by December 10th. But it might be that somebody says, I actually want to make a payment twice a month or I would like it to be taken out of every paycheck, which I get every two weeks.

It could be that somebody says I'll pay you once, but I'm going to pay you in May rather than in December. And so Other is here to allow for all of those options, those extra hundreds of items that most people wouldn't choose, because the majority of people will choose the options that we give them. So what we're going to do is we're to create a combo box with these possibilities. Now, Monthly, Quarterly and Annual and because it's a combo box, we leave open the possibility that someone can type something in that's not on the list, a choice of their own.

Let's begin then by going to the Developer tab and entering Design mode. You'll find a Combo Box right in the middle, right next to the List Box that we used in a previous movie. So let's click the Combo Box. It looks a lot alike. And we can leave it at Choose an item, but we could be more specific. We could say Choose a payment schedule. We have lots of space to do that here. We're going to now choose Properties and you'll find that this looks very similar to our drop-down list box.

It's essentially the same, because we don't have to provide those unknown items that users will type. So we're going to put Payment Schedule up here in the Title. Again this does not appear when we're in design view. This is what users see when they're using the form and click on a field and then we'll put our shorter title here to use as a tag that's what we'll see. We're going to say this can't be deleted. We're going to modify this so that it says Choose a payment schedule and if you put the dot, dot, dot at the end of an item, that's a way in Windows that you indicate you're going to get another choice. There's actually a menu here.

So putting dot, dot, dot after this first item rather than a single period is actually a good thing to do, because users recognize that. It's sort of hardwired into Window users' brains. Let's go ahead now and choose Add and one of the choices is to be paid now, another choice is to be paid monthly, and as with our Drop-Down List control, when I press Enter the Add button still has focused. So if I simply press Enter again, it opens that Add choice form for me again.

Enter, Enter. We're going to make this one annually rather than annual and we'll put December 10th. And that's our list of known items right here. If we wanted to rearrange either one of these lists we can actually do that by using the Move Up and Move Down here, so if we wanted this to be move down we could, move it back,up, but we've entered them in the order in which we want to see them. I'm going to click OK, we're going to exit Design mode and let's now take a look at how this works. We have four different choices here, but the user can also simply type their choice.

So the Combo Box allows us to have a list that will serve the needs of most, perhaps even all of our users, but still allows them the option to add their own information here. I'm going to go ahead and Undo that change, get rid of our extra text from before we created this, and now we have a really nice drop-down that can be used to be able to select a payment method or enter our own method and that's how the Combo Box content control works.

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