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Word 2010: Forms in Depth
Illustration by Neil Webb

Troubleshooting form issues


From:

Word 2010: Forms in Depth

with Gini Courter

Video: Troubleshooting form issues

There are several common things that will go wrong with forms, and so I want to show you how to troubleshoot your forms based on the types of issues that you see or that users report. The first possibility is that you have a form and a user double-clicks to create a new form based on your template. You saved your template, everything is good, but when your user is in, working in the form, not only can they choose and type where you expect them to, but they can also delete the labels, and they can also add new rows and tables for example.

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

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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

Troubleshooting form issues

There are several common things that will go wrong with forms, and so I want to show you how to troubleshoot your forms based on the types of issues that you see or that users report. The first possibility is that you have a form and a user double-clicks to create a new form based on your template. You saved your template, everything is good, but when your user is in, working in the form, not only can they choose and type where you expect them to, but they can also delete the labels, and they can also add new rows and tables for example.

In other words, they can do all kinds of things that you don't want them to do here in the form. So, what happened here? Well, when I created this form, before I saved the template, I missed the step of making sure that I grouped the controls. So in that case what I would do to fix this is I would open up my template again and go into the template, go into the Developer tab, select all my fields, and then we would just make sure that we group the containers and all of the text. And in doing that the entire area I select in Group can't be edited except in places where we dropped the content control in.

So if users can delete areas of your form, grouping is the way to avoid that. So the next possibility is that a user opens up this form and says, "Wait a minute! I want to fill in this form, but somebody else already did." What will usually be the case here is that I was testing the form, I thought, but I was really testing the template and so what I did was I saved information in the form accidentally. You always want to know when you're working in form development whether you're in the template or whether you're in a form.

So remember that when I create a new form based on the template, the odds are pretty good it will say Document 1 or Document 2 or something at the top; but I can also go backstage. And it says information about Document 4. There isn't a lot, because it's a brand-new form created for my template. What would it look like if I was in the template? So notice that this template lives somewhere, but more importantly, that it ends with a .dotx file extension. So I'm in the template here. Now the easiest way that that happens is I've been working in the template and I've been saving it, and then I go back, and I want to create a new file, and I just go to my recent list in my template is hanging around right there, and I, oh, shoot! I forget that that's my template and I double-click to open it.

So a really great practice is that when you're done publishing your template, just to right-click and remove those templates from the list that you don't need any longer, and when you do that, then you're not going to make the mistake of just going in here and double-clicking, thinking you'll get a new form to test, but actually opening your template. The final possibility is that some of the content controls are fine, but some of them have text in them and it's not placeholders; it's actual text. So when I tab into the control, there is actually words here that I have to get rid of and if I don't, when I'm typing I am adding on to the text that's there already.

So how in the world did that happen? Well, it could be a more limited case of, you entered text in some places you didn't mean to, but when it looks like a placeholder, it's probably something that happened to you in Design mode. If I take this form back into Design mode and I take a look, you'll notice of course that the placeholders are gray. But text that's typed in here is not. So what probably happened was you clicked and thought you were editing the placeholder, but you were really entering text. That's easy enough to do, particularly if you're working on a form and not paying a ton of attention to whether it's a dark-gray font or a black font. So how do I fix this? Well, the best and easiest way to fix this, we hope, is you simply select all of that text and you hit Delete to get rid of it and then you click somewhere else, and when you do, your placeholder should come back, just like that.

I have got another instance of this down here. So I'm just going to select all of that and delete it, and when I click somewhere else, my placeholder should come back. What if it doesn't? There are two other things you can try. You can, with this control selected, click on its properties, click OK, and elsewhere and sometimes it will come back. Another possibility then, is it won't come back; it's lost its placeholder. And in that case what you can do is you can remove the content control, either from the menu or by just pressing Delete, and you can add a content control back in, because if you really can't get its placeholder to come back, as I start typing, I'm always going to be typing text in here.

So as you're creating your form, three specific things that you can watch for so that you don't end up needing to exercise the techniques you saw in this troubleshooting film. The first is, make sure that as you're testing the form and designing the form you're always aware of whether you're in the template or whether you're in a form, and the easiest way is to look up here and if there's a file name other than document and you haven't saved anything, you're in the template. But you can always check backstage. The second thing is to make sure that before you save a template, you remove any values that you entered into the template when you were testing it. And the third is to make sure that you properly select and group not just the controls in your form, but all of the other supporting text that you don't want users to be able to edit.

So if you follow those particular best practices as you're creating your form, you'll do a lot less troubleshooting in Word 2010.

There are currently no FAQs about Word 2010: Forms in Depth.

 
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