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June 2006 : outlook


  using forms (part II)

In April we embarked on a new journey in Microsoft Outlook: creating a custom form. This month we return to the topic, showing you how to customize a form so that it looks and works exactly the way you want it to.

Before we get started, let's refresh our memories as to what forms are and what they are used for.

Forms 101

In Outlook, forms provide an easy way to distribute and collect information electronically. For example, you can customize messages, appointments, and any other Outlook item using forms. You can also group and sort the information you collect, respond to information, and view information by conversation.

The last article focused on selecting a default form (which we'll review); this article focuses on customizing the form.

Choosing a default form - a review

The first step involved in creating a custom form is to choose the default form you want to use as a starting point. For example, if you are planning to distribute your custom form via e-mail, you'll want to use the Mail Message form.

Before you can select a form, you need to create a folder to store it in. To do this, select File > New > Folder from the menu, enter a name for the folder, and select the type of item the folder will contain. Once you've done this, select a location for the folder and click OK.

To select a form, select Tools > Forms > Design a Form from the menu. Make sure that "Standard Forms Library" is selected in the Look In list and then click the form you want to use to select it. Click Open to display the form in Design view.

Getting started

In Design view you can add and remove fields, controls, options, and tabs until the form looks and works exactly the way you want it to. For example, let's say you don't need a Business Fax label or a Web page address label. You can easily remove these, paving the way for new, more useful labels.

Deleting labels, controls, and fields

Deleting labels, controls, and fields on a form is extremely easy—all you have to do is select the element you want to remove and press the <Delete> key.

Resizing labels, controls, and fields

If you want to make a label, control or field larger or smaller, click it to select it. Then, click and drag one of its sizing handles until the element is the size you want.

Inserting fields

As soon as you open a form in Design view, the Field Chooser toolbox appears by default. If it doesn't, click the Field Chooser button on the Form Design toolbar.


To search for a specific field, click the list arrow at the top of the toolbox to display a list of categories. Click the category that best matches what you're looking for to display a list of available fields. Once you find the field you want to insert, click and drag it onto the form.

Creating your own fields

You can also create your own fields from scratch. To do this, click the New button in the Field Chooser toolbox. In the New Field dialog box, enter a name for the field, select the type of information that will be entered into the field, and select a format. Click OK when you're finished to add the new field to the Field Chooser toolbox, then click and drag the new field onto the form.

Inserting controls

A control can be anything from a scrollbar to an option button. You insert controls the same way you insert fields, except you will use the Controls toolbox instead of the Field Chooser toolbox.

To display the Control toolbox, click the Control Toolbox button on the toolbar or right-click an empty space on the form and select Control Toolbox from the shortcut menu.

To insert a control onto a form, click and drag the control onto the form.

Positioning labels, controls, and fields

More than likely, you'll need to reposition the elements in a form in order to make everything appear exactly the way you want it.

Repositioning is easy—simply select the element you want to move and drag it to a new location on the form. You can also use the buttons on the Form Design toolbar to align, layer, and group elements.

Publishing a custom form

Once you're finished customizing a form, the next step is to publish it. Publishing a form makes it available for use in Microsoft Outlook.

Select Tools > Forms > Publish Form from the menu. The Publish Form As dialog box appears. Click the Browse button, find and select the folder you created for the form, and click OK.

Type a name for your form in the Display name text box and click Publish. Your form is saved to the desired folder and is now available for use.


  quick jump

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  upcoming classes on Outlook

Want to spend your lunchtime learning?  Sign-up for the next Applied Lunches workshop on Microsoft Outlook: July 12 at the Lodi Chamber of Commerce conference room.  Find out more.

  quick reference card

Get the Quick Reference Card on Microsoft Outlook!  Download it for free and print it on your own printer.  You might even want to laminate it.

  screen shots

The following screen shots illustrate the articles on the left.