Two ways to add checkbox controls to a Word document

Use a customized bulleted list or a content control to insert checkboxes into a Word document, depending on how you are going to use it.

You can use Word to create a simple To Do list. If you like, you can even print checkbox controls next to each item. There are two ways to add checkbox controls and how you'll use them determines which method you'll use.

Only for printing

If you plan to print your list and use a pen or pencil to mark each item as you complete it, you can add checkbox controls instead of bullets, as follows:

  1. Select the list.
  2. Click the Home tab if necessary.
  3. Click the Bullets dropdown in the Paragraph group. (Don't just click the option; doing so will automatically insert the default bullet.)
  4. Choose Define New Bullet from the dropdown list.
  5. In the resulting dialog box, click Symbol.
  6. Choose Wingdings from the Font dropdown.
  7. Select the checkbox in the first row.
  8. Click OK twice.

In Word 2003, select the right-click the list and choose Bullets and Numberings from the resulting shortcut menu. Choose any bullet style and click Customize. Click Character in the resulting dialog box. Continue with step 6 above.

Word will replace the default bullet character with the selected checkbox. This particular symbol won't let you check anything in the actual document, but it's great for printing.

Content control

If you want the capability to check the checkbox within the Word document, use a content control (in Word 2003, use a Forms field). These controls are available on the Developer tab, which isn't visible by default. To display the Developer tab, if necessary, do the following:

  1. Right-click anywhere on the ribbon's background and choose Customize The Ribbon.
  2. Check the Developer item in the list to the right.
  3. Click OK.

Once the Developer tab is available, you can add a checkbox content control, as follows:

  1. Position the cursor where you want the first control. (Don't select the entire item; doing so will delete the item).
  2. Click the Developer tab.
  3. Click the Checkbox content control in the Controls group.

Unfortunately, you can't insert content controls to the entire group of items, as a group, similar to the way you'd add bullets. You must insert each control individually. Selecting the checkbox content control toggles between checked and unchecked. Don't limit checkboxes to just To Do lists - anytime you have a two-state choice, consider using a checkbox.


Susan Sales Harkins is an IT consultant, specializing in desktop solutions. Previously, she was editor in chief for The Cobb Group, the world's largest publisher of technical journals.


When I email a document that I have created with Microsoft Office 2010 to another office, the content control version of the checkboxes doesn't work.  They just show up a square and do not check off with the X in the middle.  Does anyone know why? (We also have Microsoft Lync setup with our offices)


at once using a table. This is how I do it. In this example I have five list items already in a document. Below the list, I will add a 2 x 5 table. Select and copy the list into the second column of the table. In column 1, row 1, insert the check box as described in the article copy the check box select the remaining empty cells in column 1 and paste the check box. All items now have a check box next to them. Go back to your original list and delete it. You can now format the table to not look like a table. To do this select the table right mouse and select table properties from the table tab, select borders and shading from the borders tab, select none. press ok twice. The whole process takes less than a minute, no matter how large the table.


In Office 2007, at least in my installation, the checkbox is under the "legacy tools" icon in the lower-right corner of the controls group of buttons to insert. It looks different, so hover your cursor over them to see what they read. I didn't know that one was there until I tried to use this tip.

Editor's Picks