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Using tables to design a form

From: Word 2007: Forms in Depth

Video: Using tables to design a form

In the last movie, we saw how you can use an existing Word form or a Word form that you download from the Microsoft Office site to give you a jumpstart on creating a form. But sometimes you have either a manual form that you need to use that the electronic copy doesn't exist anymore, you've just been printing them for years, or you have a brand-new endeavor, the form doesn't exist and you can't find a template on the Microsoft site that looks like what you'd like. In that case, you'll start from scratch creating your form using tables to lay it out. Well, not quite from scratch, because before we start creating our form and laying it out, we should have an idea of the kind of data that we want to collect in our form.

Using tables to design a form

In the last movie, we saw how you can use an existing Word form or a Word form that you download from the Microsoft Office site to give you a jumpstart on creating a form. But sometimes you have either a manual form that you need to use that the electronic copy doesn't exist anymore, you've just been printing them for years, or you have a brand-new endeavor, the form doesn't exist and you can't find a template on the Microsoft site that looks like what you'd like. In that case, you'll start from scratch creating your form using tables to lay it out. Well, not quite from scratch, because before we start creating our form and laying it out, we should have an idea of the kind of data that we want to collect in our form.

So, we will make a list of that data. If you know exactly what goes in the form on your own, go ahead, and make the list. If on the other hand, there are other people involved in this effort, run the list by them and make sure they agree with it as well. I want to tell you just a little bit about what this form is for. The Two Trees Olive Oil Company has started a new foundation that will be supported by the owners and employees in order to provide assistance in funding to community-based organizations. So this is a list of fields that the folks from the Olive Oil Foundation feel that they need to have in order to capture this.

Broadly, what we have is the date the form was filled out, information about how we find the donor, how they'd like to pledge, how much, how often, how they'd like it: either taken out of their paycheck or how they'd like to pay it personally. If they choose credit card, some credit card information, and then some acknowledgment information. Finally, there's a section at the bottom that's For Office Use Only; a relatively simple form. Now, when we look at data like this, what I tell you is that normally you'll create a table that has either five columns in a row, or seven.

Let me show you why. If we have five columns in a table then what we get is we get a place to put data and a spacer, data, a spacer, and data again. Or another way to think about this is in a seven column table, we have a place to put a label, and some data and a label and some more data. In this table, if we put the labels on top, we have three columns of data. Here we really have two columns of data. In either case, you will almost always choose to create a table that has an odd number of columns, because for each column of data except the last column, you'll need a spacer column to the right.

I'm going to go ahead and use this particular layout. So let's choose this other table. I'm going to go to Table Tools > Layout and delete this first five column table that I don't want to use. Now, I'd like to simply be able to use today's date, and so on. I'm going to delete the contents of the table, select the entire table row and hit Delete, and if I simply drag today's date here, notice that I get not exactly what I want, because this is heavily formatted. It has a bullet point in front of it and it's indented.

So I could each time go back and say no, no bullet point, thank you and no, I don't want to indent this. But it's actually more efficient as I undo this for me to select all of the data that's like that here, that I'd like to use in my table, and I'm going to format it all at one time. Remove the bullet points, remove the indents, and now I'm ready to go. So I want to have the user enter the name right here. So here's Name, here's my spacer column, and I'll put the fields, the Content Controls for name right here.

Today's Date will almost always go at the top of a form. Now, if we turn on our Paragraph Formatting, you can actually tell when you're selecting the paragraph and when you're not. So if you start here and select back and go only to the T, or you start here and you go forward, and then hold Shift and Backspace, when you actually can get Today's Date out of that without having this linefeed carriage return symbol that's the new paragraph, or you can simply decide that it's okay, and you'll delete that each time because you either have to unselect it here, when I select the whole word, I've got the entire line and I get the paragraph mark.

I can either choose to unselect it here, or I can delete it later when I paste it into my table. So I'm going to go ahead and turn that off, Show/ Hide, and I'm going to Tab down to create another row. Now, the next thing is that I have here some data that's pretty lengthy like Name, I'll want to leave lots of space for that, but it doesn't take a lot of room to enter a date. So, I have some longer data and some shorter data. If I shorten up the shorter data, I have more room for my longer data, like more room to type a long first name and a long last name.

Correspondingly, I have other data here that's some short data and some long data. Email addresses tend to be long. I have a list of departments and locations, a dropdown list, but some of the department names are fairly long, the locations are short. The extension for a phone number is typically no more than five or six digits. So I do have some short choices I can make here. I can put Extension here. I can take E-Mail and put it here. Notice again, I have that paragraph mark going, and I am just going to delete it. I'm going to Tab through this list and I'm going to put Department, which is a rather lang thing, here, and Location here in this shorter list, and I can tighten this up just a little bit.

There is my first table, I'm good to go. Now, even if this was all I did in this form, I'm better off than I was before because I could type in these boxes and nothing will move around. I would like to talk to you a little bit about the tables that we'll create for Pledge Information. We actually, under Pledge Information, are going to have the ability for the user to type here, and then simply to choose from a dropdown list ; Now, Monthly, Quarterly, Annual, or Other. So I don't need to make a lot of space for this; it'll fit really nicely in a small table by itself right now.

So what I'm going to do is I'm simply going to insert a new table and I'm going to put in three columns and two rows; my first column and my spacer column. In the first row, I'm going to say, I pledge a total of X amount to be paid, and notice here that I have this extra line to get rid of, and then I'm going to put my choices over here for right now and we will work with them later. In the same way, "I will make this contribution in the form of" goes right here. It's not a bad thing to remember to delete these now, and there are my list of choices that we'll put on the dropdown list.

Credit Card information will be required if somebody chooses credit card, and so what I'd like to do is I'd like to use a different kind of a table. I have four items and conceivably all of this would fit across a line if the labels weren't so darn big. I don't have to put labels to the left of my data however, I could put labels underneath. So, I'm going to create a table that has four data columns and three spacers. Again, there's my basic seven column table, and that has two rows, and show you an approach to creating this.

So what I'm going to do is allow my user to put their information in Content Controls that are in the top row and we are simply going to place the labels underneath. Again, let's remove the bullet points, get rid of our formatting, and put Credit Card Type, Credit Card Number, Expiration Date, and Billing Zip Code here. Now, once I've made my adjustments to my table, it'll make sense that I have these nice spacer columns to the left and really good area to be able to type all these choices in.

Again, notice, this would not have fit nicely if it weren't for the fact that I've put the labels underneath. We could use a little more room for Credit Card Type, so we'll give that but not much, because often when you have the labels underneath like this, another thing that's done, because now it is hard to tell once this is filled in visually what's the label and what's our data. So typically we'll drop the size on those by about two choices. So this is 11 point here, it's my standard. I'll drop this down to a 9, possibly a 10, but 9, it's really clear that this is different in terms of size than here.

Now, I have two items that I want to place into a table, and this will be a basic three column table like we see here. This is my acknowledgment information. Once again, remove the bullet points, and remove the indent, but let's be a little sneaky this time, because this is the entry that's in the first column of my table in both cases. So with these two items selected, let's choose Insert > Table > Convert Text to Table and say I'd like three columns just like this, Automatic Column Width and it will separate the text at the paragraphs. So there we go! I have my three columns and it's very easy for me to Tab and to just move this down here.

Alternately, I could have done this a little differently. I could have said simply Insert a Table, period. Convert my table to text, make it 1 column, 2 rows, and I will get this. Now, I still need to be able to create those other two columns, but as soon as I create this 2 row, 1 column table, I can go over here on the Table Tools on the Design tab, and draw a table, and drop those other two lines in that I will want later on. There are a few more things that I need to do to clean this up, but I think you've seen how to include all of the different types of tables that you might want to have.

Go ahead and work on your form and I'll see you in the next movie.

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Word 2007: Forms in Depth

28 video lessons · 6080 viewers

Gini Courter
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