Using Fill-In Fields in MS Word 2010

There are many uses for fields in MS Word. You can, for example, use SEQ codes to create automatic numbering which can be extremely helpful in the business world and in academia.

  1. Then there are the Fill-In fields, which you can use in a template. You know, say a form that you use in your business all the time wherein the user enters variables throughout the document. Some folks might compare this feature to the keyboard merges in WordPerfect.

Most often, folks insert fields in their documents using the Fields dialog. The easiest method to do this in version 2010 is to use the keyboard combination shortcut of Alt + I + F.

In earlier versions of MS Word, you used to access the Fields command by clicking on your Insert menu. Now though, you have choices!

The Field command can now be accessed in a couple of places:

  • The Insert tab;
  • The Text Group;
  • In Qick Parts;
  • On the Mailings tab; and
  • On the Write & Insert Fields Group.

In order for your Fill-In fields to work for you, you must do the following:

  1. Embed them in a template;
  2. Put the template in the default template location in Word; and
  3. Open a new document based on the template.
  4. To open a new document based on the template, click on File tab | New.

Let’s have a go at it shall we?

  1. Simply start with a blank document or, if you prefer, with a form you have already created.
  2. Position your cursor where your first variable information should be inserted.
  3. Open the Fields dialog by clicking Alt + I + F.
  4. Find the Fill-In fields command.
  5. You can now add a specific pompt as a guide to users.
  6. You can also set up a default response if you like, which will be inserted automatically into the document if the user should leave that field blank.
  7. Simply click OK or tap your enter key.
  8. A prompt box will appear, but since you are still creating your template, do not key in anything in the box.
  9. Click OK and the code will be inserted at your cursor position.
  10. Unless you specifically elect to display your codes while creating your template, you will not be able to see them so it would be a good idea to have them displayed so you can see what you are doing. To display your codes, click Alt + F9.
    Continue inserting your Fill-In fields where appropriate and when you are finished, save your document as a template.
  11. To save your document as a template:
  12. Click the File tab on your Ribbon or use the shortcut Alt + F (not simultaneously),then click Save As or the letter A.
  13. It is very important that you save your Word 2010 document as a template (*.dotx) or as a Word 97-2003 template (*.dot).
  14. After you have saved your template, users will be able to create a new document based on it by clicking on File | New | My Templates.
  15. Once you see your template, double-click it or click OK.
  16. When your document opens, the first prompt will appear. Key in the variable information and click OK.
  17. Continue through your document doing the same for each prompt.

Once you have keyed in all the variables in your document, you will be returned to your doucment where you can make any changes you deem necessary.

I can think of many, many instances where you have a document with boiler-plate language and only a few variables, such as contracts, Last Will and Testament, Powers of Attorny, etc..  Just think of the time and effort you could save using these fields!


14 thoughts on “Using Fill-In Fields in MS Word 2010”

    1. Joel,

      I am not sure what you question means? What do you mean by re-use? In the same document? In new documents? Can you explain a little bit more of what exactly you are trying to do so that I may help you?

  1. If you put in a FILL-IN field, I think you can only use it once. If it’s a template, and you make a new document based on the template, you’ll be prompted for the information.

    If you put in an ASK field, you can use it multiple times. Put it at the beginning of your document (or before where you’ll need the data). When you create the Ask field, it asks you for a prompt and for a bookmark name. Suppose you set the prompt to “Enter first name” and the bookmark name to FirstName. After you create the Ask field, put in a REF field at each place where you want to include that information in your document. The only trouble with using an ASK field is that you won’t automatically be prompted when you create your new document. Instead, you’ll need to press CTRL-A to select all, then F9 to update fields.

    1. Joel,

      Jim is correct about using the Ask field rather than the FILLIN field. It all really depends on what you are trying to accomplish in your document as to which tool you use in MS Word.

      For instance, if you would like to create a form that is mostly boilerplace language, but has some variables that must be repeated throughout your document, such a a Contract, Last Will and Testament, Deed, Power of Attorney, etc. There are a number of ways to accomplish these sort of things in MS Word. I have heard from different folks who have used Mail Merge, ASK fields, FILLIN fields, macros, etc. BUT, if you truly just want certain words to appear throughout your document, such as a name or address, key words, you can use the Bookmark feature!

      This is very easy to do and you do not need to be a VBA engineer to do it! Basically, all you really need to know is how to select text and key in text, so I would call that pretty simply wouldn’t you?

      Follow the steps below to learn how:

      First, check to see how you have Word set up:

      In Display Options you will need to be certain that the fields will update themselves before you print your document or you will need to remember to select all of them and click F9.

      Just scroll down and under Printing Options, select Update fields before printing.

      If you will be working with Bookmarks and their Cross-references, you will have to be able to see them, so still in Word Options under the Advanced Options, make certain you have selected Show bookmarks and set the Field shading to Always.

      Say you need a name to appear in four different places within your document:

      Select the name with your mouse or keyboard and we will make this text your Bookmark.

      On the Insert tab of your Ribbon, click Bookmark to open the dialog box.

      Under Bookmark name, key in something intuitive to you (i.e., Name, Lessee, Lessor, Testator, etc.).

      So that you do not have to key in this information again, we will use a Cross-reference in the other three places where that name should appear and it will pull the name from the Bookmark you just created.

      Go back to the Insert tab on your Ribbon and click Cross-reference, which will open the dialog box.

      Your first Cross-reference automatically fills in the name, so repeate the Cross-reference two more times.

      You can follow these steps throughout your document for any other repeating information you may need.

      Your Bookmarks should update automatically when you pring your doucment, but if you want to be certain, simply click CTRL + A to select all of the text in your document and then F9 to corce all fields in your document to update.

      I hope you found this information helpful and I will try and do a detailed article on different types of fields and their uses very soon!

  2. Hi Carol,

    I have the opposite problem (I think).

    I want to create a template which will contain several pieces of information (say, a project number, and project name) that the user should enter on creation of the template (which I can do with FILL IN and bookmarks).

    However, my problem is that I can’t seem prevent these from being updated when a new document gets printed. I only want the FILL IN pop-ups to occur upon document creation….. I know I can turn the print/update-fields option on my machine off, but that’s no good across an office. Any ideas?

    Thanks, Simon

  3. Hi Simon,

    Unless the computers in your office are all imaged exactly the same, I am not sure how you can make this work. You could save your templates in a public folder where everyone would access them, but as you said, if they do not have their version of Word set not to update fields upon printing you have a problem. I suppose you could always have a comment in your template advising users to turn off that option.

    I am sorry that I have not been more helpful!

  4. Hi Carol,

    I hope you can help me. I may be using the wrong function in word but I will firstly explain what I need to do.

    We have certain large documents/reports which need to be generated with sometimes only the address of the property and date to be changed. These details remain the same throughout the whole document. I have followed the instructions above and have inserted the ‘fill in’ fields properly. Is there any way that we can insert the ‘address’ in the first field which then, in turn, changes all the others automatically throughout the whole document?

    Hope you know what I mean, looking forward to your reply.

    Kind regards

  5. I have created an ask statement followed by a conditional statement. The ask statement requires a yes or no answer and the conditional statement that follows references the bookmark reference and asks for a yes or no response to the question. If the user types the response as all lowercase yes, everything works fine; however, if the user types the response as Yes or YES, the conditional statement doesn’t recognize the response and leaves it blank.

  6. I don’t know what I’m doing wrong. I use to create templates and use the fill in-the blanks so that I could jump from field to field. I’ve tried to do the same with Microsoft 2010 and can’t seem to do it. I can’t get the form to lock so that it only stops on the blanks to be filled in. I use to use the Tab key to move from one to the other. What am I doing wrong thanks

  7. How do I remove the fill-in fields, I’m an IT Technician and a user called needing assistance in removing the fill-in fields and I have no idea, she’s working on Word 2010

  8. Click Alt + F9 to display all the field codes in the document. Find the
    ones that say FILLIN and delete the ones you don’t want.

  9. Melissa Bell

    Thank you so much for the Alt + F9 tip! I was setting up form letters in a new database and fill-in fields were pulling from the old database and I didn’t know how to find and remove them. 🙂

  10. I have a question too. I am hoping you can help. I have set up FILL IN fields for our Agenda templates. There are several times you need to enter in for example the date of the meeting. But rather than the FILL IN field appearing 5 times and re-typing the meeting date 5 times, can you just type it in once and then it populates in the other 5 locations?

    I look forward to your feedback. Thanks in advance.


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