Removing Word Form Field Shading

In my forms I created, the user (person filling it out) doesn’t want to see the grey shaded areas to fill in. Can that be removed?

Submitted by Marsha


Yes, those gray shaded boxes can be removed. The gray shading does not print, but if you are creating an online form, all of those gray boxes can make your form look messy and confusing.

Note: To create or edit form fields in Word 2007/2010/2013, you must first Show the Developer tab in the Ribbon.

Types of Microsoft Word form fields

First, for the benefit of users who are new to using Microsoft Word forms, let me give a brief explanation of the two types of text form fields available in Word 2007 and Word 2010: legacy and content controls.

Legacy form fields are a carry over from Word 2003 and earlier versions. There are three types available: text, checkbox, and drop-down list. If the form is saved as a Word 97 – 2003 (.doc) document, you must use legacy form fields to create your form.

Legacy form fields have more configuration options available than Word 2007/2010 content controls, which is why they are still used. For example, you can attach a macro to a Legacy form field, but you cannot attach macros to one of the new content controls.

Content controls are new for Word 2007. For text form fields, you can select from either plain text or rich text formats. A rich text content control allows the user to format the text, such as adding bold or changing the font color.

Removing form field shading from legacy fields

Follow these steps to remove the form field shading from your custom Microsoft Word form:

  1. On the Developer tab, click Design Mode.

    Design mode on

    The gray shading in the legacy form field

  2. In the Controls group, click Legacy Tools.
  3. Click Form Field Shading.
    Forms field shading toggle switch
  4. Click Design Mode again to toggle it off.

    Design mode off

    The gray shading in the form field is now gone

To configure a Legacy form field, right-click it and select Properties.

If you use Legacy form fields, you have to protect your form for filling in form fields, otherwise the form will not work. To protect a form in Word 2007, on the Developer tab, click Protect Document; in Word 2010, click Restrict Editing.


(These comments are from a previous commenting system. Please add to the discussion using the comment box at the end of the page.)

by: Anonymous

I looked at about 5 sites previous to this one and they were all wrong! This one actually works, nice one!

by: Sue

Hi Anon. Thanks for letting me know this tutorial helped you! I don’t always get it right because sometimes I misunderstand the question or don’t know what version the person is using… But I always hope that my readers will let me know if something doesn’t work as described. =D

by: Heidi

Exactly what I was looking for (after so many failed attempts to find the answer), and it was such an easy solution!Thank you!!

Form fill in field shading
by: Anonymous

That’s been bugging me for a year !!

Finally got rid of the shading.
by: Anonymous

Thanks! I must have clicked every button in Word trying to get rid of that damn shading! I never would have figured that out on my own, and Word Help wasn’t much help. Why does Microsoft make this so complicated?

Tip Works
by: Anonymous

I had the same experience–lots of sites with no answer, but this works. Thanks.

07 Feb 2012 – Thank you!
by: Kay

Thank you so much for your tip! I had already spent a several hours of my own trying to figure out how to turn off the shading after my manager had set up a template with it on. It was driving me and my managers CRAZY! 2010 is new to us so were all trying to figure out where all of the features we used to use are. After reading your tip I had the shading turned off within 5 min. Thanks again. You ROCK!

Great directions!
by: Anonymous

Thanks so much! I’m sure you saved me a lot of aggravation looking for this answer!

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  1. Susan says

    I have been struggling with field shading for a while now and getting very frustrated, this was such an easy and very helpful solution! Many thanks

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