Paragraph formatting, new lines and bullet lists in Word Rich Text Content Controls

Every since who knows when, Microsoft Word has had Form Fields that allow you to create a fill-in form using Word. Trouble is, unless you protect the document, people rarely end up placing the text in the correct box – or they might delete the field altogether.

So you protect the document. Now spell checking doesn’t work, the arrow keys don’t work right, it is difficult to select text, no formatting, and… well it’s just plain bad.

As of Word 2007 and Word 2010, there is a better solution called Content Controls – accessed from the Developer tab. The Rich Text content countrol allows for formatted text without messing up the surrounding document, and (if you do it right) supports spell checking. The trick is to use grouping instead of document protection. (Create your document, select everything, and group it from the developer tab. The document cannot be edited, except for the content controls)

This is great, but we ran into a mystifying problem with the Rich Text content control – in our existing document, it was not creating new lines when you pressed the return / enter key. You could hold shift-enter to get a new line, but then you could not create bulleted lists. We tried creating a new word document and adding a rich text control, and it worked fine – it seemed to be a problem with our existing document.

The solution: The rich text control does not allow sub-paragraphs when it is not the only thing in a paragraph. Place the content control in it’s own paragraph in the word document, and it will allow bulleted lists, new paragraphs, formatting, etc.

4 thoughts on “Paragraph formatting, new lines and bullet lists in Word Rich Text Content Controls

  1. Shift + Enter is actually rendered as a vertical tab (char code 11) by word inside content control. That is basically a workaround for newline 🙂 but it’s truely a newline.

  2. + [on numerical keypad] = New line
    + [on numerical keypad] = Bullet
    + within form field = Tab without going to next field

  3. In Content Control Properties (select properties from the menu by right-click on the Rich Text Control in Design Mode), under Plain Text Properties, check on the Allow carriage returns (multiple paragraphs).

  4. Can anyone please help me? You stated:

    The solution: The rich text control does not allow sub-paragraphs when it is not the only thing in a paragraph. Place the content control in it’s own paragraph in the word document, and it will allow bulleted lists, new paragraphs, formatting, etc.

    How do you actually place the content control in it’s own paragraph?

    Thank you in advance!

Leave a Reply