Creating an interactive document in Word

Do you use documents with tick boxes? Have you ever wondered why the tick boxes won’t let you tick them? Would you like to create a document (or form) with interactive tick boxes?

Well the answers to these, and possible more questions are answered below.

Firstly, why won’t the tick appear in the box when you click on it? Its probably because the document you are working on has been designed to be printed and filled in by hand rather than on a computer. The boxes on the page are graphic shapes and are not interactive in any way. You can click as much as you like but it won’t tick.

So how do you make the boxes tick-able and interactive? It’s very easy but first you need to add a new tab to Word before we begin. Click on the Office button and choose Word Options. With Popular selected tick the Show Developer tab in the Ribbon option. Click OK and you should see a new tab named ‘Developer’.

Select the Developer tab. We will be using the functions in the Controls and Protect groups.

Now lets get started and create a tick-able interactive document.

  1. Delete any boxes you have on your page.
  2. Place the cursor where you want a tick box
  3. With the Developer tab selected click on the Legacy Tools function in the Controls group.

    Legacy Tools

    Legacy Tools

  4. Select the Check Box Form Field option. A tick box appears on your page.
  5. Your tick box may be shaded grey (or not). To remove or add shading of the box, click Legacy tools again and choose Form Field Shading.
  6. Continue adding tick boxes to the rest of your document.

You may have noticed that the tick box still doesn’t act like a tick box. We have to do one more thing to activate the interactivity.

  1. With the Developer tab selected click the Protect Document option and choose Restrict Formatting and Editing
  2. A panel opens on the right hand side.
  3. Ignore the first section

    Restrict Formatting and Editing

    Restrict Formatting and Editing

  4. In the second section (Editing Restrictions) tick the box to ‘allow only this type of editing’
  5. Choose Filling in Forms from the drop down menu
  6. In the third second click Start Enforcing Protection.
  7. An Enforcing window opens. At this stage you could enter a password. If you do, anyone who opens the document will need a password to use it. Normally you wouldn’t need to use password protection, so in the instance leave the password boxes empty and click OK.

Try clicking on your tick boxes. Ticks (or crosses) appear inside the boxes.

What we have done by protecting the document is only allow areas of interaction to be altered. No other areas on the page can be changed. This is great if the document is complete and ready to be used as a form. But if you need to make changes to the docment, the protection must be removed.

Notice that the panel on the right hand has changed. Click the Stop Protection button. The document is now editable again.

Before I finish, check out the other interactive functions you can add to a page in Legacy Tools. You can also create text fields and drop down lists. Once added to the document, double click the item to reveal the setting options, such as the items for the drop down list or the type of text or data to be written in a text box. Its pretty simple to set it all up. Just remember to Protect the document when filling in and Stop Protection when editing.

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About shazmagill

I work as a Senior Technical Demonstrator and Lecturer in digital storytelling at Cardiff School of Journalism, Cardiff University. I teach and support any tools necessary for our students to function as journalists or media practitioners. This means anything from audio recording techniques, video editing, photography and print and mobile publishing. I have recently completed MA in Arts Practice (Fine Art) at the University of South Wales exploring the subjective and objective view and community storytelling through art of the Rhondda valley.
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8 Responses to Creating an interactive document in Word

  1. Samuel says:

    Thanks alot for showing me how to create interactive checkbox in word. Sam, Nairobi, Kenya

  2. L says:

    I just wanted to take a quick moment to say thank you! This was so easy! Your explanation was clear and I was even able to apply it to Word 2013 even though your screenshots are from an older version. This quick lesson helped me create an evaluation form for the course that I am teaching. It did not take me long to maneuver at all! Thanks again.
    L

  3. ST says:

    I have followed these instructions and when I email the document to myself it works but when I email it to someone else, they cannot access the check boxes. I have checked the ‘form fill’ and password protect but still they cannot access the check boxes.

  4. Jeana Burton says:

    This was very helpful, thanks! But I ran into a snag. What if the Start enforcement option remains greyed out after I choose my Editing restrictions? I checked the box there and chose Filling in forms from the drop down menu but I cannot chose Start Enforcing. Any suggestions? I’m running Office 2010.

  5. Phoebe says:

    Thank you very much for this useful and informative how to… Feeling very pleased with the results,
    Phoebe

  6. Jodi says:

    Is there any way to enable this, but also allow for people to write in the document as well? I’m doing a “yes/no if no, please explain” type of form and I could like to get people writing their explanations as well as checking boxes.

    Thanks for the tutorial! Very helpful.

  7. Alfredo says:

    Excellent help. Is there a way that once the person have selected or checked the appropriate items, they are the only appearing as the final copy? In other words, the unselected items, should not be in the finalized filled form. Thanks.

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