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This chapter is from the book

This chapter is from the book

Creating a Form with Legacy Form Fields

Legacy form fields are the field types that were available in earlier versions of Word. You can continue to use them in Word 2013, and you must use them for forms to be saved in Word 97 2003 format.

Legacy form fields are accessible from the Legacy Tools button’s menu in the Controls group on the Developer tab, as you saw in Figure 16.6. Table 16.7 explains each of them.

Table 16.7. Legacy Form Field Types

Form Field Type


Text Form Field

Holds text. Unlike with content controls, you cannot format the text within the field; however, you can format the field.

Check Box Form Field

Creates an on/off check box.

Drop-Down Form Field

Displays a list containing values you specify. Users cannot add their own entries.

Yes, there are only three types of legacy form fields. The other three buttons in the Legacy Forms section of the Legacy Tools list have other purposes. Table 16.8 describes them.

Table 16.8. Legacy Form Tools



Insert Frame

Creates a frame. Frames are similar to text boxes; they hold static content.

Form Field Shading

Toggles form field shading on/off.

Reset Form Fields

Clears all entries in fields.

Inserting a Legacy Field

To insert any legacy field, follow these steps:

  1. Position the insertion point where you want the field.
  2. On the Developer tab, make sure Design Mode is selected.
  3. In the Controls group, click the Legacy Tools button. Its palette of tools appears.
  4. Click the desired field type.

The field appears in the document as either a shaded gray box (for drop-down lists and text boxes) or as a check box (for check boxes).

Inserting a field is simple, but you will probably want to configure it after insertion. One advantage of legacy form fields is that they have some different formatting and configuration options available than content controls. Depending on what you want to do with the form, the legacy form fields might have just the option that will make your life easier.

To view the properties for a form field, right-click it and choose Properties, or click the Properties button on the Developer tab. If there is no Properties command, make sure Design Mode is selected in the Controls group and click the Properties button. Figure 16.12 shows the Options dialog box for a text field.

Figure 16.12

Figure 16.12. Set properties for a legacy form field.

Configuring Legacy Text Field Options

There are three basic field types: Regular Text, Number, and Date. Depending on which of these types you select, different formatting options and length restrictions become available in the Options dialog box. The other three choices on the Type menu are special-purpose types, discussed later in this chapter.

If you choose Regular Text from the Type menu, the options shown in Figure 16.13 are available:

  • Default Text—You can optionally specify default text to appear in the field before the user enters his or her own value.
  • Maximum Length—This is measured in number of text characters. The default is Unlimited.
  • Text Format—Choose among Uppercase, Lowercase, First Capital, or Title Case.

    arrow.jpg To learn about First Capital and Title Case as formatting options, see “Changing Text Case,” p. 158.

    If you select Number from the Type menu, you can choose among these options:

  • Default Number—This is just like Default Text; enter a default if desired.
  • Maximum Length—This is measured in number of digits.
  • Number Format—This drop-down list lets you specify a numeric format, some of which include currency symbols or percentage signs.

    arrow.jpg For information about number format codes, see “Constructing a Custom Numeric Format,” p. 643. You cannot construct a custom format here, but that section helps you understand the available choices.

    Finally, if you choose Date from the Type menu, you can choose among these options:

  • Default Date—This is just like Default Text; enter a default if desired.
  • Maximum Length—This is measured in number of digits. It is not typically limited for dates, because dates take up only as much space as they need.
  • Date Format—This drop-down list lets you specify a date format, including various combinations of month, day, and year.

arrow.jpg For information about date format codes, see “Constructing a Custom Date or Time Format,” p. 644. You cannot construct a custom format here, but that section will help you understand the available choices.

Inserting the Current Date or Time

If you choose Current Date or Current Time from the Type list in the field’s Options dialog box, the field changes to show the current date or time, as determined by the PC’s clock. The field no longer accepts user input. It does not automatically update, but you can update it manually by selecting it and pressing F9.

Setting Up a Calculation in a Legacy Field

If you choose Calculation as the type for the field, an Expression text box appears in the Field Options dialog box. In it, enter the formula for the calculation (see Figure 16.13). You can then use any of the calculation methods that Word supports.

Figure 16.13

Figure 16.13. Set up a Calculation field within a table, and reference cells by row (number) and column (letter).

arrow.jpg For more information about the calculations that you can perform in Word, see “Performing Math Calculations in a Table,” p. 367.

Configuring Legacy Check Box Options

Check boxes are useful when you have a list of items, and the user can select as many of them as he or she wants.

Check boxes have two unique options you can set for them, as shown in Figure 16.14:

  • Check Box Size—The default is Auto, which makes the check box the same size as the text that follows it. If you prefer, you can choose Exactly and enter a size in points.
  • Default Value—This is set to Not Checked unless you specify otherwise. It determines the check box’s starting state.
    Figure 16.14

    Figure 16.14. Set the options for a legacy check box.

Configuring Legacy List Options

A legacy list box, also called a Drop-Down Form Field, is like the list box content control. It does not allow the user to input his or her own entries like a combo box does.

The main thing to set up for a list box is the list itself. Follow these steps to create the list:

  1. From the Options dialog box for the field, type the first list item in the Drop-Down Item text box.
  2. Click the Add button.
  3. Repeat steps 1–2 to enter the other values (see Figure 16.15).
    Figure 16.15

    Figure 16.15. Create the drop-down list options.

  4. (Optional) If you need to remove an item, select it and click Remove.
  5. (Optional) To reorder an item, select it and click the Move up and down arrows.
  6. Click OK.

Setting a Macro to Run on Entry or Exit for a Legacy Field

If you have macros stored in the template or document, you can run one of them when the user enters or exits a particular field. For example, you might want to set up a macro that saves the file and associates it with exiting the final field on your form.

To set a macro to run on entry or exit, select the macro from the Entry or Exit drop-down list in the field’s Options dialog box.

Enabling or Disabling a Legacy Field

In some cases, you might want to prevent users from changing the content of a field. Some would argue, “Why use a field at all if the user can’t change it?” But, there are reasons for that. For example, if you save the form data only to a text file, only what’s in the fields is saved, so you might want some fixed values to travel along with the user-entered data.

To set up a legacy field so that users cannot input anything into it or change its content, open its Options dialog box (right-click and select Properties) and clear the Fill-In Enabled check box.

Assigning a Bookmark to a Legacy Field

Each field has a default bookmark name so you can refer to that field whenever you reference a bookmark. See the section “Using a Field to Set Bookmark Text” in Chapter 14, and the section “Working with Bookmarks” in Chapter 15, to learn about the various uses for a bookmark.

To change a field’s default bookmark name, open its Options dialog box (right-click and select Properties) and change the text in the Bookmark text box.

Adding Help Text for a Legacy Field

For legacy form fields, you can create help text that tells the user what to put in the field. With content controls, this isn’t necessary because you can customize the placeholder text in the field, as you saw earlier in the chapter. But, the unfriendly gray boxes of the legacy fields need the extra help.

You can set up help to appear in either or both of two ways: in the status bar or in a pop-up window that appears when the user presses F1 while the insertion point is inside the field. (Pressing F1 any other time opens the regular Word Help window.)

To set up help messages, follow these steps:

  1. Right-click the field and choose Properties.
  2. Click Add Help Text. The Form Field Help Text dialog box opens.
  3. To set up F1 help:
    1. Click the Help Key (F1) tab.
    2. Select the option Type Your Own.
    3. Type the text to appear in the help message (see Figure 16.16).
    Figure 16.16

    Figure 16.16. Set up help text.

  4. To set up status bar help:
    1. Click the Status Bar tab.
    2. Select the option Type Your Own.
    3. Type the text to appear in the help message.
    4. Click OK.
  5. Click OK.
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