What to Do If Word Won't Allow You to Edit an Existing Form


The original designer of the form has probably protected it from changes. To unprotect the form, choose Unprotect Document from the Tools menu. If your colleague has created the form with a password, you need to know the password to gain access.

The sections "Protecting an Entire Form with Editing Restrictions" and "Protecting a Section of a Form," earlier in this chapter, cover protecting and unprotecting forms in more detail.

What to Do If Form Fields Disappear

Check to make sure that your forms are locked. If the form isn't locked, selecting a form field for entry is just like highlighting a word or a block of text; the next character you enter erases whatever is selected if you have Typing Replaces Selection enabled (Tools, Options, Edit). Always keep your Forms toolbar open and available when you are creating or editing a form. It's much easier to remember to click the Protect Form button than it is to choose Tools, Protect Document.

What To Do If the Tab Order in Your Form Fields Is Incorrect

The easiest way of navigating a form when entering data is by using the Tab key. However, this is useful only if the order Word uses when tabbing from field to field is a logical one. By default, tab order follows the placement of form fields on the page, starting with the form field closest to the upper left of the page. From there, tabbing continues from left to right and down.

However, this may not be the best order for your form. For example, you may want users to answer all of a list of questions in a square area on the left of the form before they answer questions to the right. Forcing Word to go where you want requires you to manually build Visual Basic for Applications macros, and incorporate them in each form field to run on exit. You can find detailed instructions for doing this in Microsoft's Knowledge Base article Q212378, accessible at

What to Do If You See Field Codes Such as { FORMDROPDOWN }

If you see field codes such as { FORMTEXT }, { FORMCHECKBOX }, or { FORMDROPDOWN } instead of the corresponding text boxes, check boxes, or drop-down boxes in your document, clear the Field Codes check box in the View tab of the Tools, Options dialog box.

How to Use Symbols in { FILLIN } Dialog Boxes

If you use the { FILLIN } field for prompting your users, you have to take extra steps to use certain characters in your prompt. For example, let's say that you wanted your prompt to say: "Type "M" or "F" in the box." If you entered that text directly in the Field dialog box, Word would see only the first pair of quotes, and your prompt would read "Type". You must preface the quote with a backslash character to have it appear correctly. In the Field dialog box, you would enter the following text in the Prompt text box:

"Type \" M\"  or \" F\"  in the box." 

Notice that the backslash goes before each quote, not just each quote pair. Similarly, if you ever want to have a backslash appear in your Fill-In prompt, you must use an extra backslash before it. For example,

"Name the file to be stored in c:\\Invoices\\1997." 

    Part I: Word Basics: Get Productive Fast
    Part II: Building Slicker Documents Faster
    Part III: The Visual Word: Making Documents Look Great
    Part IV: Industrial-Strength Document Production Techniques
    Part VI: The Corporate Word