Designing Custom Outlook Forms

Last reviewed on January 24, 2013

One of the great features in Microsoft Outlook is the ability to design custom forms.

Before you can design forms in Microsoft Outlook 2010 or Outlook 2013, you need to enable the Developer ribbon. Go to File, Options, Customize Ribbon and add a check to Developer

Enable Developer ribbon in Outlook 2010

In Outlook 2007 you need to enable the Developer ribbon for Outlook items (mail, calendar, contact forms, etc) from the Office Icon, Editor options dialog. You can also open the Forms Designer as you would for all older versions: using Outlook's Tools, Forms menu.

Enable Outlook 2007 Developer Ribbon

Video Tutorial: Enable the Developer Ribbon

Open a form in the Forms Designer

Once you have the Developer ribbon enabled, you can open a new Outlook item (of the type you want to design) then choose Developer ribbon, Design this form and the form opens in design mode. Any content already in the Outlook item will be carried over into the form.

If you prefer, you choose Design a Form and browse for the form type you want to design.

Design and Publish commands on the Developer ribbon

In Outlook 2007 and older, you can open forms from the Tools | Forms menu, choosing Design a Form when in the main Outlook window.

In Outlook 2003 and older, you can also use the Tools | Forms | Design this form command in an opened item.

Creating different read and compose pages

Outlook supports separate read and compose pages. Check the settings under the Page options and if you are using a separate read layout, you’ll need to Edit the Read Page too.

Check the settings for separate read page

Save as a template or publish the from?

When you are finished editing your form, Publish the form or save it in Windows file system as a template (*.oft).

If the form contains VB Script, you’ll definitely need to publish it.

The screenshot below is of the Contacts form in design mode. Note that the Contact form looks like the old Outlook 2002 (and older) forms. As long as you don't edit the first page, it will retain the look of Microsoft Outlook 2003 Contact forms and up when published.

Design Mode

Written by

Diane Poremsky
A Microsoft Outlook Most Valuable Professional (MVP) since 1999, Diane is the author of several books, including Outlook 2013 Absolute Beginners Book. She also created video training CDs and online training classes for Microsoft Outlook. You can find her helping people online in Outlook Forums as well as in the Microsoft Answers and TechNet forums.

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