About designing new blank forms

When designing a Microsoft TE000130407TE000128495, starting with a blank form provides the most flexibility and allows you to create a design that best fits your needs. While you can experiment and work the way that suits you best, following a recommended design process may save you valuable time and effort.

The Design Tasks task pane contains links to design tools in the recommended order of design tasks. These tasks are listed below and provide useful information on how to design your new, blank form.


  • If you have task panes turned off, you can show them again by pressing CTRL+F1 on your keyboard.

  • To access the Design Tasks task pane at any time, in design mode, click Design Tasks on the Standard toolbar.

1. Create the form's layout

Before you begin adding controls to a new, blank form, start by inserting layout tables. A layout table is a framework that includes rows and columns for organizing and arranging form content, including controls, sections of a form, logos, and other types of graphics. These regions provide a visual structure for the content of a form. You can drag layout tables onto your form from the Layout task pane. This task pane also provides easy ways to customize layout tables using familiar Microsoft Office 2003 table-editing commands, such as adding rows and columns, and splitting and merging table cells.


If you want to duplicate the look of a paper form, draw a grid on the paper form to determine how many rows and columns you need in your form's layout.

2. Add controls to the form

After creating your form's layout, you can add functionality to your form by inserting controls. The Controls task pane provides access to all of the controls available in InfoPath, including any custom Microsoft ActiveX controls you've added. You can add controls to your form either by clicking them or by dragging them from the task pane to the TE000128496. Based on the type of controls you add to your form, users filling out your form will be able to type text into text fields, make selections from option buttons and check boxes, choose entries from lists, and click command buttons to carry out commands.

3. Bind controls to the data source

Controls on a form must be bound to fields and groups in the form's data source. This allows the data that users type into the form to be saved. InfoPath automatically creates the fields and groups for you when you add controls to a new, blank form. If you're working from an existing XML Schema or data source, or if you've cleared the Automatically create data source check box in the Controls task pane, you will be prompted to manually bind each individual control you insert. In either case, you can use the Data Source task pane to view the structure of your form's data, show and hide details for each of the fields and groups, and modify their associations.

4. Create custom views

Every form that you open or create in InfoPath has a default view. You can use the Views task pane to design additional views, so that users can look at the information in the form in different ways. For example, in a project status form you can have a default view, which shows detailed data about the project, and another view that summarizes that data. You can also create print views that specify custom print settings for users filling out and printing the finished form. If you want to switch the view of the form based on criteria such as user roles, you can use rules to do so.

5. Publish the form

While you can save the form you are designing to your local hard drive at any time, you must publish your finished form to a shared location in order to make it available to other users. Before you publish your form, you should test it to make sure it looks and works as expected. In design mode, you can use the Preview Form command to view your form exactly as it will appear to users who are filling it out. After testing, you can use the Publishing Wizard to publish your finished form to a shared folder on your computer or your company's network, to your intranet or Internet Web server, or to a Microsoft Windows SharePoint Services site.

Note: The information in this topic may not apply if you are working with a form designed using Microsoft Office InfoPath 2003 without the service pack installed. Download the service pack.

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