Category Archives for Microsoft Word

How to create custom fillable user forms in Microsoft Office 2016 / 2019 applications?

Content developed on Office 2016; however applicable to Office 2019,2013, 2010; desktop and Office 365 versions; Windows 10, 8 and 7;

Post updated on: April May2019

Here’s a question from Deanne:

I need to create a short survey to send to my office coworkers. I know that i could probably use an online solution such as Google Forms or Microsoft Forms. However in my case, i would like to design the form and then send it as an attachment to my colleagues via Microsoft Outlook. I am not sure whether this should be an Outlook, Excel or Word form, but i do want to use Office to create my fillable form. I don’t find the menu item that allows me to go ahead and  start working on my form layout. Any hints are appreciated. Thanks.

Custom forms allow us to capture user feedback in Microsoft Office applications in a relatively neat way.  In this post, we’ll teach you how you can easily create interactive custom fillable user forms and add them into your Microsoft Outlook emails, Excel workbooks and Word  documents. For each office application we’ll provide some basic examples that highlight the use of this capability. Feel free to leave as a comment in case of questions.

Forms in Outlook 2016 and 2019

Before we add our form to Outlook email messages, we’ll go ahead and enable the so-called Developer tab:

  • Open Microsoft Outlook
  • Now right click the Ribbon and select Customize Ribbon.

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  • Click on the Developer Check box and select OK.

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  • You’ll now notice the newly added Developer tab in your Ribbon.

Now we’ll go ahead and design a form by re-using an existing template stored in your the standard forms library. Microsoft Outlook ships a nice collection of forms related to the main Outlook objects that you can select and jump-start your form development process.

  • From the Ribbon, select Developer  and hit Choose form.

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  • Hit OK to open your standard form.
  • Make the required changes (using  the Design This Form  command).

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  • When done, hit Publish.

If you are looking for a more in depth tutorial, make sure you visit this detailed example of an email and appointment template design for Outlook (both Windows and macOS)

Special Bonus: Download the Free PDF version of our Outlook tips and Tricks guide.

Excel user forms

In this section we’ll learn how to quickly define a data entry form that can help you populate a spreadsheet table. If your job involves significant data entry job, this tutorial could really help. Follow through for the entire procedure for creating a simple form in Excel:

Setup the Excel data entry form

  • Open Microsoft Excel
  • Right click the Ribbon and select Customize Ribbon.
  • In Choose Commands from drop down box, Select Commands not in Ribbon.
  • Search for the Form command.
  • Now in the right hand side, hit the New Tab button. This creates a new tab in the Ribbon that will allow you to place the Form command under it
  • New highlight the new tab you just created and hit Rename. Call the tab Form.
  • Now highlight the New Group (Custom) group that was automatically created once you created the new tab.
  • Now highlight Form in the left hand side and hit Add.
  • This will add the Form command to the new tab as shown below:

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  • Select OK.

Using your form

  • Now in your spreadsheet, define your table header as shown below. In our case, we added the Name, Gender etc’.
  • Highlight your table header and, hit the Form tab and hit on Form.
  •  Your custom fillable form is automatically created and can be used to populate the table as shown below.
  • The form can be now emailed to your Outlook recipients as needed.

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Data entry form capabilities

It’s worth noting that the custom form has some interesting built in capabilities for data entry:

  • New: add new record to the table
  • Delete: remove records from the table
  • Navigate the table according to field value using Find Prev and Find Next
  • Criteria: Search and Filter the table according to predefined values.

Note: Obviously, you can build much more fancy forms in Excel, equipped with every possible data input control.  Today, we wanted to show you the basics, in case of questions, feel free to leave us a comment.

Word 2016/2019 forms:

  • Open Microsoft Word.
  • Right click on Ribbon and select Customize Ribbon.
  • Hit the Developer check box and select OK.
  • Enter your Header text and make it to convert text into Table.
  • Use the Content Control tools and prepare the texts accordingly to your Header texts.

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  • Click on Restrict Editing and select Editing Restrictions.
  • Click on the Check box and change Filling in Forms from the drop down box.
  • In Start Enforcement, Select Yes, Start Enforcing Protection.

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  • Enter a Password and Retype Password for the Protection.

Can i use an Excel or Word form template?

If you want to jump start your form development process, you can use a canned template delivered by Microsoft Word (or Excel).

Kindly proceed as following:

Windows users:

  1. Open Word (or Excel).
  2. Hit New.
  3. In the template search box and type “form”, then hit the magnifying glass icon. Microsoft ships several useful online form templates including:  travel expense, meeting summary, cash donations, membership, job description,  field trip, food sign up reports and more; which you can use in Excel or Word.
  4. Look into the available templates, once found double click your chosen form template.
  5. Customize your template according to your needs and save it on your computer or OneDrive.

macOS users:

  1. Open Word (or Excel) for mac.
  2. Hit File and then New File from template.
  3. Search for the available template using the right hand side search box.
  4. Double click the template.
  5. Customize the layout and Save.

How to create a form with check boxes in Microsoft Word 2013?

The other day, we had a question from one of our subscribers about creating a form in Word 2013 in Developer mode.

Forms allows for easy data capturing and are widely used in Word and other Office applications. There are two major ways for making your own customized forms in Word:

  • Using predefined templates – this comes handy in case you need a standard form.
  • Customizing your own forms. This is the option we will handle in this post.

Before we get started with our form customization, we’ll need to have the developer tab enabled. This will add a bunch of custom controls we can use for building our form.

How to Enable Developer tab in Word?

  • Launch Microsoft Word 2013 and select Options under File menu.
  • Check the Developer option under the Main menu and click on OK.


  • This enables developer mode and you can find a Developer tab in the ribbon.


Setting up a form with checkboxes:

As an example, let us design a form which will allow us to capture the name, gender and known languages from people.

  • Launch Microsoft Office 2013 with a blank document. Now enter the field names using the Plain Text Content control.


  • To add a check box, select the icon with tick mark inside it. For the ‘Gender’ field, you can add two check boxes, one each for Male and female. Similarly for ‘Languages known’ field you can add as many languages and include check boxes for each language.


  • You can edit the check box control properties by selecting a check box and clicking on Properties under Developer tab.


To summarize,  enter into developer mode by enabling Developer tab and create your own forms with all controls available in the Developer tab.

How to insert mirrored or flipped text in Word 2013?

On the other day, I was asked by one of my friends if there is an option to get mirrored text in Word 2013. I was looking for the same but there wasn’t a direct option. So here is a workaround which allows you to flip your text in Word 2013.

  • Launch Microsoft Word 2013 in your computer.
  • You need to insert text in a text box so that it can be transformed. To insert a textbox, select Insert menu and click on Text Box on your right.


  • Enter the text in the text box and switch to Format menu.
  • You can find the Rotate option to your right, click on it to get the dropdown.


  • Select your desired option to rotate or flip the text.
  • To get a mirrored text, click on Flip to Vertical option.

More tips:

  • You can rotate text to a particular angle by selecting More Rotation Options and specifying angle in degrees in Rotate the Size tab.


How to draw a flow chart in Office 2013 and 2016?

The other day, I was approached by a colleague who asked me what would be the easiest way to create a flowchart and embed it in an Office 2013 document. In this post I would like to review several methods you can use to accomplish this task. All method outlined below work also in Office 2007 and later.

Use flow chart shapes (Simple)

All the Office 2013 suite applications allows you to easily add shapes into your documents. Just hit Insert and then select Shapes. You’ll notice a dedicated section showing the most common flowchart components which you can easily drag and arrange as needed.


Use Smart Art Graphics

If you want to create a process chart, you might find predefined Smart Art components under the Process category.

To add Smart Art drawings, hit on Insert, select Smart Art, pick your drawing and hit OK. Then add your text as needed.


Embed a Visio Flowchart (Advanced)

A less known component in the Office suite, Visio allows you to create professional flowcharts and easily embed them into your spreadsheet, presentation, doc or Onenote notebook. To insert a flowchart made in Visio, proceed as following: Hit Insert then select Object, now select Microsoft Visio Drawing and hit OK.

Your Vision canvas will be made available. In your graphic type, Pick Flowchart as your drawing type and hit OK. Now drag your graphics into your canvas to create your flowchart.

How to open .one files on MAC and Windows computers?

Updated: February 2019

Here is a question we received some time ago from a reader struggling to read a Onenote files on MAC OS:

I have received a bunch of .one files from my colleagues as attachments to an Outlook email. The challenge is that I don’t know how to open these files and I don’t find a compatible program to launch those. What are these files? How do I open it?

Thanks for the question. Let’s see how we go about helping you read these on MAC and PC.

What are .one files?

First things first: the .one format represents files used in Microsoft OneNote, which is Microsoft solution for note taking, sharing and collaboration. Microsoft Office suites for Windows ships OneNote since version 2013. Office for MAC OS X also ships OneNote as part of Office 365.

How to read the .one file extension?

First off, either on MAC or PC look into your computer Apps and programs list to see if OneNote is already installed on your computer. If you use Office 365, good chances it is.

If Onenote is not installed, then you can get it for free from the Microsoft site (requires Windows 7/8/10 and Yosemite 10.10 or later). Once installed, you can go ahead and open your file.

What if i can’t install software on my PC?

If you work for a corporate, good chances are that you might not have permissions to install software on your computer, and OneNote will be no exception.

That said, you still have some a couple of ways to pursue:

Use the Web version of OneNote

Office 365 online ships also a web version of Onenote. If you don’t have a Microsoft Office account, you should first create one.

Your next step would be to save your .one file into OneDrive and open it with web version of OneNote 365. This should be your preferred course of action in case no software installs are possible.

Convert to Word (.doc/.docx) files or PDF files

There is a template in the Apple/Mac version of Office 2010 for Word. So you can convert .one files to .doc or .docx files and use Apple version of Office 2010 to read those files. This can be done by saving your files in OneNote with .doc or .docx extension by choosing the “Save As” format. You can also save it with PDF format so you can use a PDF reader in a MAC to read the files.


Convert to HTML

You can export OneNote files in a very easy and understandable HTML format by using this OneNote Web Explorer plugin. You can find a small word like icon in the top navigation menu once you have installed this plugin and click on it to convert to HTML.

Use Evernote

You can also import .one files into Evernote and read .one files using this application. All  you need to do is login to Evernote and import files from OneNote by  hitting File –> Import –> Microsoft OneNote. A wizard will then guide you through the import process.


How to open a POTX file?

Recently we had a question about POTX files :

I received a mail with an attachment and there was this POTX file. What is a POTX file? What type of file it is? I tried opening it, but I wasn’t successful. Windows failed to detect the default application that opens those files. What application opens POTX files?  How do I open it?

Well, Thanks for the question. This post is all about POTX files and answers the questions above.

What is a POTX file?

A file with POTX extension is a Microsoft PowerPoint  XML Template.  It is one of the formats used  in Microsoft PowerPoint 2007 and 2010.

How to open POTX files?

The best way to open any file is to let the operating system decide the default application with which the file can be opened.  POTX file is not an exception.  Windows and other operating systems easily detect the application and opens the file with that application. In case, if the application is not preinstalled, you need to open it manually after installing the application.

The default application that opens POTX files is Microsoft PowerPoint 2007 and up.  Follow the steps given below to set the default application manually.

  • Install Microsoft PowerPoint 2007 in your computer.
  • Right click on the POTX file and select open with.
  • If you find PowerPoint in the list, select it.  If you don’t find it, click on choose default application.
  • Locate the PowerPoint application from the Program Files and click OK.
  • The file now opens in PowerPoint.

Seven Tips for Making Microsoft Word 365 / 2019 / 2016 run faster

Last updated: February 2019

Applicable for: Word 2019, 2016, 2013 and 2010; Windows 7 and 10 operating systems

Here’s a question we got some time ago:

Lately, i am noticing some slow down in my Microsoft Word 2016 software performance, this is visible mainly when starting up the software. My feeling is that some additional packages i have installed are causing this. Any ideas from your side?

Microsoft Word’s performance is in general reasonable fast but it can definitely slow down if it’s bloated with add-on software or running on dated or inadequate hardware. In this article, you’ll find some quick DIY tips to make Word work faster than ever before.

Disable Word Add-ins

Microsoft Office software has the capability to host Add-In components. These small software programs extend the capabilities of the standard Office package to improve user productivity. In a way, you can think of those little programs as browser Add-ons, but just for Microsoft Office. The caveat is that sometimes, these Add-Ins slow Word, specially at startup, as the programs are loaded when Word is started causing a noticeable delay. This is probably the most common performance hiccup of Microsoft Office program, so it’s applicable also to Excel, PowerPoint, Access and Visio.

If you notice that Word is slow as startup, you might want to look into your installed Add-Ins and temporarily disable the ones you don’t currently need. Here’s how to accomplish that:

  1. Open Microsoft Word.
  2. Hit the ‘File’ button at the top right and choose ‘Options’ at the left side of the screen.
  3. Now, click on Add-Ins at the left side of the Windows called ‘Word Options’.


  1. Now, Choose ‘Go’ after selecting Manage ‘COM Add-Ins’ at the bottom of the same window.


  1. Uncheck the Add-Ins you don’t need in order to disable them (In my case, I’ve got just one COM Add-In to disable).


  1.  Hit OK.
  2. Close Microsoft Word.
  3. Startup Word and see if you notice fast startup performance. If so, you might want to remove the disabled Add-Ins altogether, this will be covered in the next section.

Remove unwanted Add-ins

Similar to the previous tip, however, instead of un-checking the COM Add-Ins entries to disable proceed as following:

  1. Go ahead and highlight the entry to uninstall
  2. Hit Remove.
  3. Repeat for all required entries.
  4. Once done hit OK.

Consider an hardware upgrade

Couple of readers contacted me reporting slow performance issues when working with large files which included pictures, which caused Word to get stuck. One of the solutions would be to upgrade your computer RAM memory to 8GB, specially if you run multiple programs in parallel or do some intensive work on image and video editing software.

Always work on local documents

Retrieving document and saving changes into files stored in remote locations (OneDrive, SharePoint libraries,  shared folders etc’) is typically time consuming and depends on your network performance. Therefore, If possible, ensure that the documents you are working are stored in your local drive. Once done, sync your changes into the network location or save a new version of your document so you can share with others contributors or reviewers.

Note: If possible, also ensure that the local drive storing your documents is uncompressed.

Disable Auto Correct options

By default, Word checks your spelling and automatically correct any mistakes found in your text. Very useful feature, but has a performance penalty.

To skip auto corrections, proceed as following:

  1. Navigate to Options, then navigate to the Proofing tab.
  2. Navigate to the lower section of the tab, and uncheck “Check spelling as you type” and “Mark grammar as you type”.
  3. Hit OK.

Note: you’ll need to check your spelling and Grammar manually (Review tab>> Spelling and Grammar).

Disable Screen Tips

Screen Tips help you receive additional information and guidance when you hover on hyperlinks, comments and so forth. This is useful, but might impact Word performance.

To cancel ScreenTips display in your Word document, proceed as following:

  1. Navigate to Options, then in the General tab, navigate to the UI options section.
  2. Then, under ScreenTips style, select Don’t Show ScreenTips.
  3. Hit OK.

Clean Temporary/Unwanted Files:

Quite often, cleaning up temporary/unwanted files can significantly improve your personal computer performance. Freeware solutions such as CCleaner and TreeSize Free can be specially helpful. Don’t forget to clean both your Temporary files and the Registry. You  could also remove unwanted software that are installed in your system using the Add/Remove Programs panel.

Hopefully, these steps should make Word much faster. If you don’t notice anything different, leave us a comment below.