Software

Create blank lines in a printed Word form the easy way

Creating printed forms can be a hassle if you can't get those blank lines to cooperate. Learn one of the easiest and most versatile ways to set up your form: using underlined tabs.

Word users often create printed fill-in forms that include underlined blanks spaces for writing in form data. While you can press Shift + - (hyphen) repeatedly to create these underlined spaces, it's difficult to line up the lines. Leader tabs make it easier to create even lines, as well as saving keystrokes, but you're limited to four underline styles.

Using the Underline button to underline tab characters gives you all the advantages of leader tabs with a wider choice of underline styles. For example, say you have used tabs to lay out your form, as shown in Figure A.

Figure A

tabbed form

To create the lines, just follow these steps.

  1. Click the Show/Hide button on the Standard toolbar so that you can see tab marks in your document. In Word 2007, click Show/Hide on the Home tab in the Paragraph group.

  1. Select the first tab mark you want to underline, then hold down the Ctrl key while you select each of other tab marks (Figure B).

Figure B

tab selection

  1. Go to Format | Font, choose the thick underline style from the Underline drop-down list, and click OK. In Word 2007, go to the Home tab, click the Underline button arrow in the Font group, and select a style from the Underline style list (Figure C).

Figure C

underline format

All lines will be printed, as shown in Figure D.

Figure D

underlines


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16 comments
cschutte
cschutte

I hoped this tip would apply to writeable fields,i.e., being able to type over the line without having the whole line shift to the right. Any clues how to do this? I currently save to Adobe PDF (full pgm), then use the "form tool" to create writeable fields like a mail merge. How can I create writeable fields in Word 2003-07? Thanks Clarence

karanti
karanti

wowl!! this was soo cool and useful to learn... thank u! :)

michael_castelli
michael_castelli

Here is another EZ work around. Insert a straight line shape from shapes. Select straight line and insert. Adjust the line to the desired length and move it to the location you need a blank line in the form.

karen.whaley
karen.whaley

I can't seem to select more than one section at a time without selecting all.

mmoran
mmoran

... with the suggestions in the comments, and in a half-hour increased my knowledge of Word forms by at least an order of magnitude. (Shows how little I knew before ;>) Articles and comments like these are some of the best features of TR. Thanks to Mary Ann and to all contributors.

bfsmith
bfsmith

This will definitely come in handy. Any shortcuts are always welcome. Keep the ideas coming. Thank you.

jkorchok
jkorchok

I design forms for Word all day every day. This advice is very poor. Guess what happens if any of the information is longer than expected or the user types a carriage return: the whole layout is screwed up. Word already has a solution for forms: form fields and protection for forms. You could format a text form field with an underline to get the same effect as the writer's suggestion. Better yet, combine form fields with Basil's suggestion of table layout and apply the line to the bottom of the table cell to get a genuinely useful solution for forms.

scain
scain

I create a table and use blank cells with underlines so users can actually type their answers in the form. The tab example is useful if you have to use a printed form for answers though.

gbarn
gbarn

I work at a helpdesk and this will be a handy tip for users. I usually just use tables myself when creating forms but users never do. They like the underscore button beside the zero key.

cmr_exec
cmr_exec

Word 2000 does not support selecting noncontiguous text with the CTRL key. This feature only became available with Word 2002.

scain
scain

After you create a Word document with form fields and password-protect it, users cannot spell check their information. Keep that in mind if you create a document with form fields that you have to password-protect. That is a very poor choice too.

danrev99
danrev99

You are absolutely correct! I have created forms that work perfectly using this method for years. They are easy to design and users have an easier time filling them in after they are locked.

kferraro
kferraro

The situation you outline pertains to digital forms in which case you might want to use a program like PDFill anyway. In my situation, this will come in handy for teachers needing to design tests and other documents that will be printed and distributed to students. Thanks

ginmemphis
ginmemphis

This will be a good tip for my less-knowledgeable users who create simple printed forms. These are not "leader tabs," though. These are underlined tabs. Leader tabs are set in Tab formatting, where you tell it to use a line, dashes, dots, etc. when tabbing.

basil.cinnamon
basil.cinnamon

You can get even more flexibility with tables, which also allow for maintaining uniformity of spacing on different lines, putting checkboxes in the cells in a column, making a cell into a checkbox by suitably choosing the borders, etc.

hfeddema
hfeddema

Just what I was going to say. Using tables with selected lines visible is a great way to arrange text in an orderly fashion, especially when some of it needs to wrap.