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We've got a form that somebody created in Microsoft Word 2007. As an example, it would look something like this:

Name: ________________________________

Where the "line" is created by somebody typing in underscores.

Now when somebody goes to type in their name, it ends up looking something like:

Name: __________Matt__________________________________

and maybe even wraps to the next line. So the logical thing for a user to do would be to underline their name and delete some of the underscores.

But that is obviously a pain. Is there a way to create "lines" that a user can just type on that don't change the length of the line and keep the underlining/underscoring under what they've typed?

I can change the form - I just don't know how.

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    I was recently given a form created by MS Word, and I was asked to fill in the form. I got the exact problem like you have mentioned in the question, when I typed in a word, the underscore line just moved to the right, and that made me almost crazy. I gave it up. – kitty Jan 14 '15 at 22:07
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    Tables and text boxes are the way digital forms are supposed to be created. The underscore entity is a font, not an actual physical line, and so will only "work" when the form is printed out and then written on using a pencil. Lesson: Don't use underscores or dashes to indicate where people are supposed to type. They may look like the right thing, but they aren't. – music2myear Jan 5 '17 at 18:13

14 Answers 14

11

There are two possible ways to do this:

  1. Use a 1x1 table and remove the borders except the bottom border. This will allow people to type in the empty table without shifting text around. The limitation is that the 1x1 table must be on its own line.

  2. The preferred option is to use the Developer ribbon (enable Word Options - Popular - Enable Developer...). Then under the controls, insert a text box. You can then edit the font of the text box to add and underline. You can find more information about this method on Microsoft's web site here.

5

There actually is a way to create a line that can be typed over without the line moving, and without using table cells or fields. It is done with underlining and tab characters. Underlining is a built in method for placing lines under words. The problem is that you can't underline a space. There must be something in the space or you can't turn underlining on. This is where tabs comes in. Place three tab characters in the ruler: a left tab where you want the line to start, a center tab at what will be the middle of the line, and a left tab where you want the line to end. Now click in the location of the first tab and hit the tab key twice. This inserts two hidden tab characters (small arrows) into the blank space where the line is to go. Once they are inserted, you can highlight the space by dragging over it with the mouse.

Now click the underline icon and the space will be underlined. To add text, click in the MIDDLE of the line (the location of the middle tab character) and start to type. Your words will float right over top of the line, and remain centered within the line space. If you need multiple such lines and want to be able to tab from one to the other, click in the MIDDLE of each line and insert a text field. Once the document is protected, you can tab from line to line and the lines will remain the same size no matter the size of the words. (The exception being if the words are longer than the space in which case the line will grow to match.)

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This can be done by setting a reverse L shaped tab with the leader set as an underline.

With the ruler turned on showing the tab marks do the following:

  1. Set the tab (reverse L shaped) at the end of the page where you want the underline to end.
  2. Double click the tab to open the Tabs dialogue window.
  3. Be sure that you have the correct Tab stop position selected.
  4. Change the alignment to "Right"
  5. Set the Leader to 4 ___
  6. Click OK

Press the Tab key and you have a line on which you can type!

You want more lines- just enter and tab and you have more lines.

1

This is not really all that possible using obvious methods (without hacks and work arounds) because Word is a word processor, not a forms-application.

However, you will be able to achieve something very similar to what you are after. Check out Create forms that users complete in Word from Microsoft for a detailed way of creating a form in Microsoft Word 2007. Here is a little summary:

You can create a form in Microsoft Office Word 2007 by starting with a template and adding content controls, including text boxes, date pickers, and drop-down lists. Other people can use Office Word 2007 to fill out the form on their computer. In an advanced scenario, any content controls that you add to a form can also be linked to data.

You can also create a form by starting with a sample template. Many are available on the Microsoft Office Online Web site.

Basically, what it gets you do do is to enable the Developer tab:

  1. Click the Microsoft Office Button , and then click Word Options.
  2. Click Popular.
  3. Select the Show Developer tab in the Ribbon check box, and then click OK.
    NOTE: The Ribbon is a component of the Microsoft Office Fluent user interface.

And then insert text boxes into a document, using a table to keep it all aligned.

The help article I linked to actually goes into great detail on how to create, prepare and distribute your form.

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  • Haha, like the Microsoft note explaining the Ribbon as being a component of the "Microsoft Office Fluent user interface". As if that makes things clearer :-) – Rabarberski Mar 26 '12 at 8:57
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You can also click on Insert, choose shape, and pick the line. That will allow you to type on top of the line and backspace without affecting the line itself.

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The best practical method I have found for addressing this requirement is to set up appropriate tab-stops and tab-leaders in addition to a text field.

A simple example:

  1. Start on a fresh line and click in the ruler at the 4cm and 10cm marks to set a tab-stop in each of those positions.
  2. Double click on one of the tab stops to get in to the tab properties for that line.
  3. Highlight the 4cm tab-stop, select the second tab-leader (the dots) and press the 'Set' button.
  4. Highlight the 10cm tab-stop, select the fourth tab-leader (the underscore) and press the 'set' button.
  5. Press OK.

Now your tab-stops and leaders are set up, type "Name:" for example and press tab twice. You will end up with a result like this:

Name:.........._____________________

How it looks exactly will depend on the font you are using. Arial will give a solid underscore for the second leader.

Now position your cursor at the start of the underscore leader and insert a text field. Underline it if you like, to make it appear as part of the leader.

Now if you protect the form and enter text in that field it will consume the leader and not mess up the rest of your document.

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  • This works and I just used it. But it fails if the paragraph extends to additional lines, because the tab stops apply to the whole paragraph. Another answer is needed if the blanks are placed throughout the paragraph. – shipr Mar 4 '15 at 6:57
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I just watched a 3 minute youtube video that solved the problem for me. The video walked me through

  1. adding a "Developer" tab to the ribbon
  2. inserting fillable boxes, and then
  3. locking all the text in the document except the fillable boxes.

Note that this video adds the Developer tab in Word 2007.
For Word 2010, watch 1:05 to 1:20 of this 2 minute video

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  • You might want to add more details to this post explaining the procedure in the videos. Although I can tell you're contributing in good faith, it can read a bit like spam. – bwDraco Jan 11 '15 at 4:18
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I came across this site googling the answer to the problem for a colleague. The tab/underline (thanks LW) thing seemed the easiest to do until we started typing on the lines we created and the underline extended itself. We didn't want to have to go over the lines again and re-edit those inserted underlines.

Here is the easiest solution that worked for us:

  1. Create a table, say a 1X5 so that there are five rows to type on. (You can edit the amount of rows to suit your needs, of course, or the height of the rows to accommodate a certain font)

  2. Then highlight that table which will bring up the table tools tab.

  3. Click the Borders Menu and select left border and right border to remove the left and right boarders and VOILA, we are left with five horizontal lines that we can type on.

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The easiest way is to enable typeover when you press the insert key and turn on underline. Whatever you type will be underlined and the lines won't move as you type.

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You can also set the style from Normal to No Spacing in the ribbon and type --- (multiple hyphens) followed by Enter to generate lines. You can do the same in the Normal style, but it will add a large gap every two lines.

These lines are able to be typed on as well, and adding tabs will not move them (unlike the Tab method mentioned in another answer).

Hint: If you want to make the lines a bit larger for handwriting, select the lines and change the line spacing in the ribbon (near the alignment buttons).

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I know it's been seven years since the question was answered but I have a better solution for this problem. This is done using Adobe Acrobat pro (if you can afford that) since whatever tricks you apply in MSWord will change formatting of original form forcing you to waste time in adjusting original format. But following these steps will retain original formatting of document and allow you to fill in the form/document easily.

  1. Convert your word form to pdf (file>>save as>>pdf)
  2. open the pdf with adobe acrobat
  3. right click and select "add text"
  4. click anywhere/on any underline and start typing

this will allow you to edit the form without destroying the original text formatting.

this is a sample form being edited using adobe acrobat

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You can always save as PDF. and then open it and do the add text so that the lines stay preserved and you can write on the document.

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    This is not the desired intent of the question, and the question already has a satisfactory answer. Please read questions carefully so that you understand what is actually being asked. – music2myear Mar 10 '17 at 23:29
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What I do is create an image of lines and save it as a picture then add it to the word document as a "custom" watermark with no washout. Then I add the "fill in form" text box and lock it down. Your gonna have to play with the picture to get the lines lined up but remember that 100% = 100% paint so just line up the edges of the doc with the paint white box then put your lines where you want them.

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Find a template in Microsoft Word, and then copy and paste from a form there. That should give you a field that behaves how you want.

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