How to Create Fill-in Forms in OpenOffice Writer

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Creating a fill-in form is a useful way to collect information from a group of people. By using OpenOffice's word processor, Writer, you can create a form that you can email to the group's members for them to fill out and return. Setting up a basic form with headings and input boxes is not difficult. However, like many functions in OpenOffice, it is not at all intuitively obvious, so you will need to follow instructions the first time you create one.

Create Labels

  • Open a new text document, or use an existing document. Bring up the form control toolbar by clicking on "View" --> "Toolbars" --> "Form Control."

  • Find the "design mode" button, which looks like a little pencil. It will be at the top of the right-hand column when the toolbar is in its default shape. If there is a box around the button, that means the button is already selected, and you are good to go. If there is no box around the button, click on it to select it.

  • Click on the "label field" button. This button says "ABC" and its default position on the toolbar is second from the bottom in the right-hand column. You can also get tool tips with the names of the buttons by hovering over them with your cursor. When you click on the "label field" button, your cursor will turn into a cross.

  • Click within the document at the location where you want the label to appear. Then draw a box by dragging the cursor while holding the left mouse button down. Adjust the size and position of the box, if necessary, by using the green bars or dragging the entire box with your cursor.

  • Click inside the box to bring up a window called "Properties: Label Field." Type your desired label in the window's second input slot, the one that is marked "Label." Click the "x" in the right-hand corner of the window to continue.

  • Continue creating labels. You don't need to click on the "label field" button again, as it remains active. When you are finished creating labels, click on the "select" (arrow) button to leave label-creating mode.

Create Input Boxes

  • Select the "text box" button. This is third from the top in the right column and has "ABC" inside a white box. Draw the text boxes the same way you drew the label boxes, by dragging the cursor while holding the left cursor button down.

  • Rearrange your labels and your input boxes, if necessary, by clicking on them. That will bring back the green navigation bars. You can resize the boxes using the green bars, or drag and move them by clicking in the center and dragging with the left mouse button held down.

  • Click the "design mode" button (pencil, on top right of forms control toolbar) to turn it off, when you are satisfied with your form design. What you see now is what someone filling out the form will see.

  • Save the document in the normal way. Email it to the people whose information you are collecting. They can fill in the information on the form, save it and send it back to you.

Tips & Warnings

  • You can access more advanced features in the form design toolbar ("View" ' "Toolbars" ' "Form Design") and the more controls toolbar (access by clicking the "more controls" button at the bottom left of the form controls toolbar.
  • If you are in box-drawing mode and want to return to regular mode, you can click on the "select" button (arrow, in the top left of the menu) at any time to change your cursor back to normal.

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