How to Create OpenOffice Fillable Forms

by Michael Logan

OpenOffice is an office productivity suite of programs including spreadsheets, database, presentations and word processing. A feature of the OpenOffice word processing, spreadsheet and database programs is the ability to create forms with fields that can be filled in by someone else. You can use these forms within the OpenOffice program, on HTML documents or export them to PDF format. The PDF format allows for printing once the form is filled out, but the data can not be saved.

Click on the OpenOffice icon located on your desktop or choose the program from your start menu. OpenOffice will start and display a screen with the available installed programs. Click on the icon to start the word processor. A blank word processing page will open.

Click on "View", then move the mouse pointer down to "Tool Bars" and a list of available tool bars will open. Select "Form Controls" from the list. A small box of icons opens on the upper left side of the page.

Design your form by placing all the static text on the page that will not change once the form is complete. For example, you may want a line that says "Name >" with a text box next to it for a person's name. You would enter Name > on that line and leave room for a text box to the right of it.

Draw controls by clicking on the specific control icon and click-drag to draw the control. For example, To create a text box for the user to type their name in. Place the cursor at the bottom left of the box, hold the mouse button down and drag up and to the right to create a box. Release the mouse button to stop drawing. The other types of controls, such as check boxes, list boxes, option buttons, formatted fields and more controls, are created the same way.

Adjust the size of the control. Click on the Control to select it and the box is outlined by eight handles. Point at a handle, hold the mouse key down and drag to adjust the size of the control.

Click on the box to select a Control for moving. The box is outlined by the eight green handles for sizing and the cursor changes to a cross with arrows when it is inside Control. Point the mouse anywhere inside the Control, hold the mouse button down and move the Control where you want it.

Select a Control and simultaneously press "Control" and "C" to copy it. Move the flashing text cursor to the location for a copy of the control and simultaneously press "Control" and "V" to paste it. You may also use the "Edit - Copy" and "Edit - Paste" from the menu for this.

Click outside the last Control edited or created. This deselects any controls. Click on the "Design Mode On/Off" icon which is a pencil with a ruler and triangle. Click inside any control to test it. The "Design Mode On/Off" icon switches between Design mode and User Mode. Click it again to continue designing your form.

Save the form by clicking on the Disk icon in the main tool bar and entering a file name for the form. Export the form by clicking "File - Export" and choosing PDF or HTML from the list.


  • check You can add buttons that execute macros which is useful for buttons that save entered data, exit the form or print a form or any other required button. Copying similar Controls saves time since each Control will be the same size. For example, once you select the size of a check box, copy it to make all check boxes the same size.


About the Author

Michael Logan is a writer, editor and web page designer. His professional background includes electrical, computer and test engineering, real estate investment, network engineering and management, programming and remodeling company owner. Logan has been writing professionally since he was first published in "Test & Measurement World" in 1989.