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Understanding electronic forms

From: Word 2007: Forms in Depth

Video: Understanding electronic forms

With Microsoft Word 2007 you can create beautiful, easy-to-use forms. With Microsoft Word 2007 you can also create ugly, hard-to-use forms. Word includes set of tools that we can use to increase the chances that we'll create beautiful forms rather than ugly, hard-to-use forms. Part of the power of Word is that it's very, very versatile. For example, I can just double- click anywhere and type anywhere I wish. Word will also let me drop a picture anywhere I wish, or SmartArt or anything else, or a Table; I simply double- click and enter information.

Understanding electronic forms

With Microsoft Word 2007 you can create beautiful, easy-to-use forms. With Microsoft Word 2007 you can also create ugly, hard-to-use forms. Word includes set of tools that we can use to increase the chances that we'll create beautiful forms rather than ugly, hard-to-use forms. Part of the power of Word is that it's very, very versatile. For example, I can just double- click anywhere and type anywhere I wish. Word will also let me drop a picture anywhere I wish, or SmartArt or anything else, or a Table; I simply double- click and enter information.

With Word you can create all different types of structured documents. This ability to type anywhere and place items anywhere is really helpful when we're trying to create event brochures, or blogposts, or if we want to write some Haiku down the page or create a love letter, or a short story. Just sit down, and click or double-click, and start typing and you're creating a document of whatever kind you wish. Forms on the other hand are not spontaneous events. They require advanced planning, because you want to collect very specific data.

For example, if you're collecting someone's personal information you want their name, their address, their phone and so on; you don't want them to simply type hello a few times. And you'd like them to type their name near the label Name that you've provided in the document; you don't want them clicking somewhere else and typing their name in a way that you can't figure out that's what it is. So we need to tame Word to provide some structure, take away some of this freedom to operate anywhere in the document we wish, and by doing that we'll create a document that's easier to use, and our users are going to love us for it.

Here's one of those ugly forms that I talked to you about earlier. You've probably seen a form like this. You click somewhere and begin typing, and when you do, everything starts to slide. That's because this line was created using an underscore character. It's actually a real character, like a letter, and therefore it can't share space with another character. When I double-click on a check box to turn it on, it's not really a check box at all; it's simply a symbol. So what I might do is I might say, oh, well that means I want this one, but that's an awful lot to go through in order to make sure that I have a check box.

What I find a lot of users do is they simply go in and they delete it, and they'll either put in a couple of Xs so that somebody sees that's what it is, or they might even by hand go in and circle this. So this form as it was, might have been a fine form in the days when we took this form and we printed it, put it on a clipboard and handed it to somebody along with a pen or a pencil. But as an electronic form, it leaves a lot to be desired. Here is an updated version of that same form. In our forms we're going to use two very different sets of tools together to create an easy-to-use form.

First, we're going to use Tables to lay out our form. You can tell that we're seeing tables here. You can click. We can see the gridlines because we went to the Layout tab and turned the Gridlines on. But when I turn them off and click again, notice that I have a form with nice crisp lines. If I needed to print over these lines I could. And I'm already better off than I was with that form a moment ago because if I click, for example, to enter a Home Address, notice that the line doesn't move. That's because it's not a line created with underscores it's a line that's actually a Cell Border here in our Table.

But wait, there's more. After we created the table and used Borders and Shading to make the lines appear and make it just look good, we then went to the Developer tab and started adding some controls, so that users knew where they were going to click. So I can click here and enter my Name. I can actually Tab to the next control and enter my Last Name. Very nice! And then I can choose from a dropdown list that this is going to be my Cell phone and here I'm going to out my Office phone. If the Developer tab does not appear in Microsoft Word for you, don't worry.

In the next movie, I'm going to show you how to turn it on, how to set up everything so that we're ready to create forms. But notice that with Content Control, these containers for texts, dates, check marks, and so on, we have a nicely structured form and we also have these wonderful containers that make it easy for people to work with the form. By using these Layout Tables and Content Controls we can quickly create an easy-to-use, totally non-ugly form for almost any purpose in Microsoft Word.

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Word 2007: Forms in Depth

28 video lessons · 5901 viewers

Gini Courter
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