How to create a basic form in Microsoft Excel

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You have used tools like Microsoft Forms, Google Forms or even Microsoft Word to create forms. But if you are most comfortable using Excel, why not use it to create the form you need? Here’s how you do it.

Activate the Developer tab in Excel

To use the tools you need to create a form in Excel, you must enable the Developer tab. If you already see this tab, you are one step ahead and can go to the next section. But if not, you will see the Developer tab.

Open Excel and go to File> Options. Click “Customize Ribbon” on the left side of the Excel Options window.

Use the Customize Ribbon section to the right and select “Main Tabs” from the drop-down menu. Then select the developer check box below and click “OK”.

Show the Developer tab in Excel

When the Excel settings close, see the Developer tab.

Create a form in Excel

To add controls to your form, e.g. Drop-down lists, buttons, or list boxes, go to the Control section on the Developer tab.

Navigate to a location on your sheet where you want to add a check and click the Insert drop-down menu. Select the control you want to add, and then use the plus sign that appears to draw its size.

On the Developer tab, click Insert for the form controls

As an example, we insert a drop-down list using a form check.

Note: You can also add a drop-down list in Excel using the data validation feature as well as a dependent drop-down list.

Click the combo box icon from the form controls and draw the field.

Draw a combo box

Select the combo box and click “Properties” in the Control section of the ribbon.

Click Properties on the Developer tab

On the Control tab, enter the input area, which are the cells that contain the list items. You can also drag through the cells to fill in this field. Click “OK”.

Add the Input Range combo box

You then have a nice and neat selectable list.

Combination box in Excel

As another example, we will insert a few check boxes for Yes and No. Click the check box icon from the form controls and draw the first check box. Be sure to make the size wide enough to accommodate the text you want next to the check box.

Draw the check box

Right-click the check box, select “Edit Text”, and enter the text you want to display.

Right-click and select Edit Text

If you want to adjust additional options for form control, e.g. To display the box as unchecked, select the control and click “Properties” on the ribbon. Make your adjustments and click “OK”.

Edit the properties of the check box

We then follow the same process to create our next check box. Now our shape is really taking shape!

Check boxes in Excel

You can use these types of controls for your form or select others such as buttons, scroll bars, and radio buttons.

Protect your form

If you plan to share the form digitally, you can protect it from unwanted changes to the text and controls.

Go to the Browse tab and select “Protect Sheet” in the Protect on Ribbon section.

On the Browse tab, click Protect Sheets

Select all the options you want and possibly include a password. Note that if you do not need a password, another user can protect the sheet. Click “OK”.

Select the items to be protected and click OK

When you share the spreadsheet, others will be able to use the form controls but not edit them or other items in the sheet you are protecting. If they try, they will receive an error message telling them that the sheet is protected.

Protected sheet error in Excel

To make further changes to your form, click “Remove Sheet Protection” on the Review tab.

For more help locking specific cells to protect them from editing, see our Excel Cell Lock Guide.

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