Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. If you are using a later version (Word 2007 or later), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for later versions of Word, click here: Lines that Don't Change When You Type.
by Allen Wyatt
(last updated May 17, 2019)
Susan, like many people, needs to create a form in a Word document. The form needs to contain lines in it, with each line showing where someone should type something. Susan is wondering how to create the lines so that they remain looking the same after someone actually types something where the lines are located.
There are a couple of things you can do. The first is to try using tabs to indicate where you want people to enter information. For instance, let's say you want a line to begin 1.5 inches from the left margin and then have that line extend for 3 inches from that point. You can do this by setting two tab stops: one at 1.5 inches and the other at 4.5 inches. The first tab stop should be left aligned and the second should be right aligned.
Then, select the second tab stop and apply the underline attribute. You now have a line exactly 3 inches wide. If someone positions the insertion point at the beginning of the line and starts typing, their typing is also underlined, so it looks natural. As long as what is being typed does not extend beyond the 3 inches, you are fine.
Another approach is to draw underlines where you want information to be entered. Since the underlines are graphical, they are not affected by what you type and will remain visible on the document. (Their visibility, of course, can be affected by how they are placed in relation to other drawing objects or to the text itself, so you may need to do a bit of experimentation to get lines exactly as you want.)
The way that most people approach the problem of underlines in forms, however, is to use tables. Just set up a table that is as simple or complex as necessary to accommodate what you need. The cells in the table can be selected and borders applied, as necessary, to create the lines you need. When someone needs to enter information, all they need to do is click in the table cell and start typing. The line (which is really the cell border) is not affected by what is typed.
For a good discussion about how to set up lines in forms, see this page at the Word MVP site:
WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (3376) applies to Microsoft Word 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. You can find a version of this tip for the ribbon interface of Word (Word 2007 and later) here: Lines that Don't Change When You Type.
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